Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's in a Name?

In the past year, I've gone from "Maybe I'll get something published someday" to "Let's try to get something published." It's a slightly more active approach. I'm starting to take into account whether a given story or a given scene would appear to a wider audience. I've looked up literary magazines that might suit my style. Basically, publishing has become a goal, rather than a distant possibility of something that might, somehow, happen.

And lately I've been thinking about how I want to be known, should I ever achieve that goal. Is publishing under a pseudonym the best idea?

On the "pro" side, it gives me some anonymity, not putting my real name out there in the world. Those of you who actually know me will know that I have a very common name, and a pseudonym would let me stand out more.

On the "con" side, if I use this name, I have to use this name. As in, that would be who I am. If I was ever known, by anyone, I'd have to be able to sign "Mad Cooper" (and I can't write a cursive "p"), people would call me Mrs. Cooper (some of you may know how I feel about that), and I'd have to adopt this whole other persona.

It seemed like a great idea to begin with, but now I don't know. I'm starting to think I might be better off publishing under my own name. Or something closer to me own name.

And I have to decide all this pretty soon. If I manage to get published, be it a novel or in a literary magazine, whatever name I choose is going to be what I'm stuck with. You don't change horses midrace or whatever. If you build a following with one name, you don't want to confuse them by switching to something else.

I've heard before that female writers tend to be better off using a masculine or androgynous name (or initials), especially when writing outside the stereotypical "female" genres (like romance). For some reason people don't take, say, a political thriller seriously if it's written by a woman. If you want males to read your book, you'd better not sound like a female. That's why Joanne Rowling published as J K.

Now, the name I go by in everyday life is androgynous. And if I was going to publish under my real name, I'd probably use that, rather than my full name. But still… I don't know. I don't know what the best course of action is, and I don't know how to find out.

So what do you think? A pseudonym that sounds kind of like an actual name, or an actual name? Which is more likely to be taken seriously?

I'll see you Friday, and who know who I'll be…

1 comment:

  1. I've asked myself these questions many times. As much as the internet has trained me to avoid slapping a real name on anything - the idea of actually publishing makes me think going with real would be the *adult* thing to do.