Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who’s Your Author?

Or: What’s in a pseudonym?

Well, she didn’t do it for sales, that’s for sure. My idol J. K. Rowling assumed the nom de plume of Robert Galbraith to publish The Cuckoo’s Calling. Why? In her own words: “To publish without hype or expectation.” She was trying something new – a detective novel. She wanted to see how it would stand on its own merits. But when the ID leaked? Whoa. Sales shot up 500,000%. So that’s what’s in a name, folks.
And she’s hardly the first. Used to be that a woman author had to use men’s names to be taken seriously. Take Harper Lee, George Elliot, and Isak Dinesen for instance. Even the iconic Nora Roberts has written as J. D. Robb.

But it works both ways. Jennifer Wilde, author of such sizzling romances as Love’s Tender Fury, is in truth Tom E. Huff, a man and a Texan, for heaven’s sake.
In other odd twists, Stephen King has written as Richard Bachman; Isaac Asimov as Paul French; and Michael Crichton as John Lange. Two of my favorite thriller scribes, David Hagberg and Sean Flannery, are one and the same. So…why toss aside such sterling credentials?

To switch genres, expand marketing potential, and/or publish more than one book a year. It keeps unusually prolific writers like Stephen King from diluting his own brand.
But for me, this was the most startling discovery: Anne Rice aka Anne Rampling was born Howard Allen O’Brien. Seriously.

Would I use a pseudonym? I was certainly going to. A man’s name, of course. Bruner Moore. But then one of my many, many cousins exclaimed, “Don’t you dare ditch our family name!” Never mind that “Odle” is such an oddity. So far there’s no prob...I’m a lo-o-o-ng way from getting famous. But you'll note my revised covers read "Mary Odle Fagan."


David Hart said...

Here's an interesting take on Rowling as detective author:

Mary Fagan said...

Thanks for the link! I've been a Ken Jennings fan since Jeopardy. I've read the Harry Potter books several times but not with an eye for hidden clues. Pretty much left that to Hermione! Ken makes great observations. I must become a more astute reader!