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Thread: To Pen Name or Not to Pen Name
March 19th, 2014 03:18 PM #1
To Pen Name or Not to Pen Name
That's the question.
I've talked to my editor and he says that pen names are no big deal. You just write your pen name on the manuscript and in the upper corner you right who to make the checks out to and he would handle it. I'm not worried about that. I'm just conflicted about whether I want to or not.
So the questions:
1. Do you even pay attention to author names? (I know I'm guilty of not paying attention if it's my first time picking a book up. Sometimes it's just "That book with the bloody axe on the cover")
2. I know pen names, aside form when they're used for privacy reasons, are used to have a memorable name. Jane Smith might write under J.D Smith or Jane Fairfax of Esmeralda Mayhew to try to have a name people will remember. Which would you be more intrigued by -- Angel Blackwood or Dantea Blackwood (or Wolfwood or Sherwood. It's going to have wood in there somewhere).http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Blackwood/e/B00SARZLFY -- My Amazon Author Page
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Persephone Elysia Willow -- June 5th 2013
March 19th, 2014 03:31 PM #3
That sounds like a really tough question. I'm not a published writer (except for on this website and on my own blog) so don't take any of this too seriously...
Regarding #1, I do pay attention to author names. If it's someone I don't already know and love, I'm hesitant to buy and I'm more likely to borrow from the library (for what it's worth).
And it seems like (assuming you're a first-time author) you're making a big commitment upfront by choosing the name you will go by. But Seuss had lots of different pen names and it all worked out okay.
For question #2, I like Dantea Blackwood. Or, better yet, Dantea* Real Lastname if it isn't Blackwood. I do understand the privacy thing (and I should probably be wiser about that, myself!) but it feels more authentic to me to have your real name out there in the world. More scary and vulnerable, but more real.
Do you know what I mean?
*Wait, I can't remember whether you go by Angel or Dantea. To me, you are Dantea. But to everyone else who knows you, you're Angel, right? I think you should go with the name you most closely identify with.
Anyway, good luck with your choice and keep us posted!
Last edited by mill1020; March 19th, 2014 at 03:33 PM. Reason: forgot OP's real first name!Mom to James Daniel (10) William Joseph (9), Elise Marie (8), and Zachary Allan (1)
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March 19th, 2014 03:50 PM #5
IRL, I'm Angel, Dantea or Remy depending on who you're talking to. In the LGDTQ community, I'm Remy. In my newer circle of friends, I'm Dantea because it feels more like me. In my older groups, I'm Angel :P
Blackwood/Sherwood/Wolfwood etc, one of them will be my real last name soon. Cody's changing his last name for personal reasons and he wants something with wood in there. We have some very close family friends I've been friends with for almost my whole life who are like family to us both and they've told us we can adopt theirs if we want. So Cody's leaning toward Blackwood.
And thanks for the input. I do understand. I never thought I would write under anything but Angel but in the last few years, I've been really separating from my name. I think I'm rambling/ranting at you O_O It's been a hard day.
Anyway! Thanks for your advise.http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Blackwood/e/B00SARZLFY -- My Amazon Author Page
Proud Mama to:
Persephone Elysia Willow -- June 5th 2013
March 19th, 2014 04:39 PM #7Member
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Pen names are so interesting to me.
To get the ugly side of it out of the way first - pen names are often used as marketing tools. A lot of the authors who go by initials and last names do so to disguise their genders. Think J.K. Rowling, S.E. Hinton. It's a really sad fact that often women writer's work is thought to only be aimed at other women or girls. Depending on what you're writing, that might not be your target audience at all. Often agents or publishers might suggest changing your pen name to something more androgynous or perceived to be male to reach a wider audience if your book is aimed at a wider audience. It's not fair, but like I said, it's the ugly truth of it. There's a long history of women using male names as pen names if the initials aren't appealing to you. I've talked to editors, taken publishing classes, and know quite a few published authors they all have said it's something to think about. When considering a pen name, think about who your audience is and what might give you the farthest reach.
Another thing to consider is that you can have multiple pen names. Nora Roberts also goes by J.D. Robb, J.K. Rowling wrote as Robert Galbraith, Sophie Kinsella also writes as Madeleine Wickham. When choosing a pen name, again, think about the audience you're trying to reach. One name might work better for one book or genre than another. You could also consider just using one name - like Sapphire, who wrote Push the book that the movie Precious was based on. Frankly, I think Dantea stands on it's own pretty well. But I don't know what the industry's perceptions of that are right now, or if that's even something you would want to consider. Just a thought!
I'm a writer as well and think about pen names a lot. I'm not sure I'd change mine, but I do know regardless of whether I get married or not, my pen name will be my maiden name.
I hope this was helpful! Good luck choosing a pen name, if you decide to use one!
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March 19th, 2014 04:44 PM #9
I had always thought that I would go by a pen name when (if!) I'm ever published. For me, I see my writing almost as an off-shoot of a ministry of my faith/religion--it's something I want to do to encourage people, and I'm not sure that I want to be in the limelight for that? If that makes sense? There's a passage in the Bible that says when you do good, to not let your left hand know what you're right hand is doing (the point being, who needs to know when you're doing something good? If you do good, it's not for your sake, but for God's), and I like that using a pen name sort of fulfills that scripture. I feel like if I was popular enough, people would still connect my face to whatever pen name I chose, but I still like the idea of using one. Besides, I always hated my name when I was younger, so the idea of a pen name always appealed to me.
To answer your questions:
1. Erm, yes. Maybe it's because I've always thought about using my own pseudonym, but after I read the back of the book, my interest is in the author's name. I think it says a lot about the author's style, their writing style, their creativity, what sort of message they convey. If that makes sense. And I think I connect with certain authors based upon the name that they use.
2. Angel Blackwood feels very gothic to me, and strikes me as very Poe-ish. Which I like, but I would be more intrigued by Dantea Blackwood, I think. It seems more dark and brooding, and unusual, while Angel Blackwood is this balance of light and dark for me. I don't know. I like Dantea more, but if you're comfortable with Angel, I think either would be great for you, too.Ashley
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