Sat in my favourite café with my friend who’s a successful writer of erotic romance, a conversation sparked up about the pros and cons of using a pen name, a nom de plume, a pseudonym. Here is the conversation, which you may find useful.
What was the reason you decided to use a pen name?
I use a pseud because I have two teenagers under eighteen so felt the need to separate the erotic fiction and them. Also my novels would not sit well with certain older members of my family.
I know an author who was fired from his job when it was discovered that he wrote erotica, so I also decided to keep my family life separate from my erotic romance writing life.
My mainstream books are under my real name but I have an unpronounceable surname so I wished I’d used a pseud for them as well.
How do you avoid tricky situations like people asking you what you do for a living?
I judge the situation, time, and place. If I deem it acceptable, I tell them I write erotica, if not I tell them about my mainstream books. However, I am very careful not to mix the two worlds and that can be tricky. Normally the conversation halts after the word erotic.
Does it ever become confusing between your writing name and your real name?
No, I keep it all separate. The only issue is social media—I have two Twitter accounts, two Facebook pages, two blogs plus Pinterest and Instagram. It’s hard work and a fine balancing act—sometimes I drop the ball!
So it’s not easy maintaining multiple social platforms. Any advice?
Building a following is done by frequent postings under whichever name you’re using at the time. However do not constantly promote, nothing puts people off more than that. It takes work to build a convincing alter-ego and I use tricks like using a different computer (laptop and desktop) to keep me in the ‘right zone’.
Your pen name hasn’t changed gender, why is that?
If you’re found to be a different sex, fans of your work can feel misled at the deception.
My surname is also a shocker to pronounce. Do you think that alone is a good enough reason to use a pen name?
Absolutely. I know how annoyed you get when not one single person can pronounce your surname properly. Eliminate the trauma! Also if your name is similar to another author or a famous actor, I suggest changing it.
How did you choose your pen name name?
You need a name you can live with but also one that’s memorable. I chose my great Aunt’s maiden name and my middle name shortened. And choose something that’s easily pronounceable!
So to conclude.
Using a pseud is working for me now. It may change in the future and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.