I'm using a pen name, a nom de plume, a pseudonym for publishing purposes. Everyone asks me why, so I thought I'd try to explore that with you today. Jillian Kent is a name I came up with after my awesome agent, Rachelle Gardner, asked, "Have you ever considered using a pen name?" With a smile on my face, I said, "You mean you don't think Jill Nutter will sell as many books as Jillian Kent?" I had to smile because I've worked in the mental health field for years and you can't imagine what adolescents on an in-patient psychiatric unit can do with a name like Nutter. Rachelle was being very professional and I was thinking how I would go about finding the right name for my writing career. It's neither as difficult or easy as it may seem.
This didn't surprise me or alarm me for I had considered it, but not seriously because I didn't have a contract yet. All of us have to take into consideration what our brand projects about us these days. Your name and my name are a big part of our brands. For instance, did you know: British Slang for Nutter is an insane person. And even though my first two books have insane asylums featured in them I didn't want to scare of any British readers with the last name of Nutter.:) Kent, England is a place you might well find in a Regency set historical novel. My first name is Jill so expanding that to Jillian was a no brainer, especially since I have friends who call me Jillian.
Also, I work full-time as a counselor. I'm not concerned at all that my clients/students find out that I'm writing under a pseudonym (in fact the college newsletter is publishing an article about my writing journey) When I publish within the counseling world I will use the last name, Nutter. After all I've been a licensed Social Worker for 30 years.
CHOOSING YOUR PEN NAME
Does the name enhance the genre you write in?
If you are writing speculative fiction and your name is Judy Romance you might want to consider a pen name.
Do you write in another genre?
For instance, Nora Roberts writes romance, her paranormals are written under her pen name, J.D. Robb.
How unusual or common is your name?
If your name is difficult to pronounce or you just don't like it, you may want to consider a pen name. If your name is extremely common like Smith or Jones, you may want to choose a name that helps you stand out in the crowd.
Famous people who used or use pen names.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
Choosing a pen name can make you feel a bit bonkers, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Okay, who would you like to add to this list? What other reasons might a writer choose a pen name? Would you be angry if you discovered that a writer was using a pen name? If you are thinking of using a pen name for yourself, do you want to share your ideas?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
One of my favorite historical romance authors has died. I read many of Elizabeth Thornton's novels. One of my favorites was titled, Whisper His Name. Thornton had a great ability for adding suspense in some of her novels, and I do the same in my own writing. I haven't read them all so I can't account for all of them, but I dearly loved this one.
Posted by Jillian Kent at 10:44 PM