The Pseudonym Discussion
There’s a lively discussion that surrounds the choice to use a pen name or not. Some authors swear by them, others don’t need them. Here’s the discussion, in a nutshell.
Pen names can be helpful if you write children’s books as well as mature genres. It can be helpful to have different personas to promote to different audiences, lest you offend a reader, and they put all of your books back on the shelf. People can be quick to jump to conclusions and generalize; pen names can stave off some of those repercussions. Pseudonyms are also helpful to those authors who want to maintain a distance from the limelight; those who may want to create an air of mystique or build in anonymity so that their families and friends aren’t over-taxed by an author’s celebrity or notoriety. All are good arguments for utilizing an author alter ego.
Pseudonyms can also cause potential problems. Imagine attending a book signing event… someone calls your name, you don’t answer. Or imagine the embarrassment of signing the wrong name on the inside cover of a fan’s book. Consider the complications of having social media and a website with two (or more) different names; just the time factor alone would make me cringe. The worse case? A royalty check written out to the wrong name!
What’s my personal take? I’m proud of everything I write, and I’ll never hide my accomplishments under a false identity. Readers may or may not buy my books because I write in a genre they don't approve of... and I endorse their freedom to choose without remorse or second-guessing.
Also, there's something "old world" to me about my name. You see, I got married, for the first time, later in life, my son was eighteen, and walked me down the aisle at our wedding. I'm progressive about some things, but more traditional about others, and taking my husband's name was one of those things that I kept a traditional viewpoint on. Even after forty-plus years of carrying my family's surname, I thought it was an important statement about my evolving identity to replace my old last name with my husband's.
I think that it's important to reflect this evolution on my book covers, too. Since marrying, I'm not entirely the person I was with my maiden name... and my writing isn't the same, either. I felt responsible to carry that tradition, and for me, it felt right. However, I must tell you, it took me nearly a full year of marriage to remember to respond when someone called me "Diana Kathryn Plopa"; and that was EVERYWHERE I went. At this stage of my life, I'm not sure I could unlearn that; and I can tell you I certainly don't want to un-learn it. Imagine the confusion I'd be creating for myself, trying to remember when I have to be who. That's more of a kerfuffle that I'd like to deal with, thank you.
Drake, on the other hand, has a much easier time of things. He has a clan name, rather than a surname - and Mallard is pretty easy to remember!
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