What’s in a [pen] name?

Dallas Arboretum
If you’ve followed along since the beginning of time, er, rather the opening post on this blog, I started contemplating the use of a pen name about a year ago. My lovely graphic header included the words “fiction home of Charlene Newcomb & Kate [insert various names].” I’d even created a separate blog for Kate, which admittedly only pointed folks here.

I wrote a number of posts about Kate, including this quite eye-opening adventure (at least to me). I had no intention of hiding the other ‘me’, which would be a pretty amazing feat in this day and age though several authors admit to doing it successfully. I attempted to explain why I thought I needed a pen name.

Long story short . . . I’ve changed my mind.

Let’s face it. I’m not a spring chicken. I passed the half-century mark and ya’ know, that didn’t bother me too much until this year’s birthday. And then it was like – OMG, how the #@$^%#!! did that happen? Given that I’m definitely on the downhill slope of life and  don’t whip out a new novel every 3 months like many writers do provided my rationale for just being me. The original outline for Keeping the Family Peace is dated 2004. 2004! Eight years. All right – I’ll admit I dabbled with a few other things during those 8 years, but if you don’t finish AND publish, you can’t call yourself a writer.

Where was I going with this? <—— see? a sign of age. 🙂

Ah yes, 8 years from start to finish (assuming I get Family Peace up on Amazon by the end of the year). So, given my advanced age, and slower than molasses writing style, I don’t anticipate that I’ll be publishing new works often enough to worry about you, the reader, trying to figure out which are my sci-fi offerings, which are historical fiction, or which are contemporary drama. I don’t want you zipping off to Amazon to see one lonely little book sitting there by Kate [insert name]. I want you to see all 4 books by Charlene Newcomb (maybe in 6-7 years if all goes according to plan). I imagine the cover art will give you a hint as to genre.

So again, welcome to the Many Worlds of Char. Charlene Newcomb.

7 thoughts on “What’s in a [pen] name?

  1. I think you make a good point here–not only that authors who are not super-prolific (I’m in awe of those who are) might attract readers under a single pen name, but that cover art is a good indicator of genre. The main argument in favor of pseudonyms seems to be that readers will be off-put by writing in a different genre by the same person, but it’s not like anyone’s springing on them and forcing them to read a new type of novel.

    Thanks for coming by my blog!

    • Exactly! They can always read the book blurb & sample the first few pages if the cover intrigues them, then decide if they should give this new creature a try. (Speaking of covers, yours look very cool!)

      It was interesting to read about one traditionally published author who resubmitted a manuscript using a pen name after it got turned down under the name she’d published several books under. I guess there are times a pen name comes in handy. Another writer told me she writes YA and erotica – she doesn’t want her YA readers to stumble upon her erotica until they’re older. That makes sense, too!

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