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Pseudonym Issues

Well thank Christ the promo is over and I can get back to being an actual human being for the next few weeks. I understand it needs to be done – this Twitter stuff, these Kindle deals – but fucking hell they make me feel like some sort of soulless spam robot.

DOWNLOAD MY SHORT STORY FOR FREE etc.

Anyway.

Done.

I want to talk about pseudonyms today. Robert Galbraith. Cliff Richard. Er … Gary Glitter.

Personally, if I ever want to be employed in the corporate world again, using a pseudonym was a no-brainer.

Say I used my actual name, then my potential employers will come across a short story about a person killing his rival colleagues under the instructions of a possessed printer.

And also profanity and drugs and sex.

So yeah, I was always going to do this shit under a pseudonym.

Of course, my Instagram failed me. I kept my Facebook with my regular name, but my Instagram was under JB. I didn’t link the two, but for some reason, Instagram seemed to ‘suggest’ JB as an interesting person to follow to my IRL FB friends.

Bollocks.

So I took down Instagram (who needs the fucking thing anyway?) and my personal FB (ah, what a relief).

Still, the damage was done. The cat was slightly out of the bag.

So if I know you in real life and you’re lurking behind your backlit Mac keyboard reading this – Hi there. Nice to have you onboard. I live in Sydney now. Drop me an email and say ‘Hi.’ 

Anyway, I was chatting to a family member the other day and they asked about my writing. I told them I used a pseudonym. They asked what it was and I said I wouldn’t tell them.

This caused offence, and it’s not the first (or, I suspect, the last) time it’s happened.

I’ve several reasons for not telling people my pseudonym:

  1. Mainly, if I have a blanket rule that I don’t tell anyone, it keeps things simple.
  2. I’m not writing for my friends or my family, I’m writing for people who want to read it – YOU. And also, I’m writing for ME.
  3. I write horror, and that throws up a lot of preconceptions. Perhaps I’m mental. Perhaps I’m a serial killer that has yet to be caught. ‘Well,’ they’ll whisper, ‘he was always kind of quiet and a little … strange.’ I don’t need that kind of judgement in my life.
  4. Is that character based on me? Possibly, but probably not.
  5. Let me offer my critical opinion … Everybody’s a fucking critic. Strangers are fine, but it’s hard to be objective about someone you know. I foresee fallouts on the horizon.
  6. It’s easier to brand a pseudonym than it is my real name. Feels less wanky. Does that make sense?
  7. Of course I don’t really give a fuck if people find out, otherwise I wouldn’t have plastered my face across all the branding and this website. It’s just that I’m not volunteering the info.

And there you go.

Am I being cruel to my family and friends?

Are you using a pseudonym? And if so, do you have these issues?

Let me know, friends.

 

 

25 comments

  1. I have one in case I need it. I write thrillers and some literary, but somehow I managed to pen a nasty horror novel that might throw people off. When I get signed I’ll ask if it’s okay to publish that one under a pseudonym because I don’t want to offend my core audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I AM a pseudonym… well, Alen B Curtiss is. A few family members and very close friends know, but it’s not really a secret. Though if I ever hit the big time I may have to make them disappear. Which would be a shame, I kind of like a few of them, and Aunt Mabel’s scones are to die for. Maybe I’ll keep her. In the basement, or something.
    But I digress. Alen B Curtiss is just my working name. My brand name, if you will. When I’m not working I can be my boring, mundane, average self. When I am working out comes Mr. Curtiss and away we go. It’s like stepping into the office, keeping home life separate from working life. Saying that, I do like the anonymity. Most of what I do is for other people – editing, formatting and the like. But I do have plans to release more of my own work, and writing under a pseudonym gives me the confidence to write as I really want to. Writing as myself. Under an assumed name. Makes no sense at all.
    As for different names for different genres – I’m not a fan. Your core audience like what you write because of your storytelling ability, your turn of phrase, your humour, your character building. For true fans the actual genre will be secondary. Regardless of what you write, your voice will be in there, and it’s your voice your audience appreciate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘writing under a pseudonym gives me the confidence to write as I really want to. ‘
      100% this!
      But yes, I think I agree re: the different names for different genres thing. It’s your style, not your content people associate with the author. Genre is kind of irrelevant.
      Although, when I release my gluten free vegan cookbook under this moniker, I’ll say ‘Mr Curtiss told me to do it.’ 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I did set up a gmail account under a nom de plume ( nom de plume sounds even more pseudo than pseudonym ). I did set up an account under a pen name, alias, false identity – it gets worse. I did set up a gmail account under another name a few years ago, just so I could leave ridiculously stupid comments beneath Guardian articles.

    Most readers seemed to think they were serious. Then I set up a WordPress account in the same name, but I now post short stories there under my own name.

    So what advice was I going to give you? Fuck your family and friends, lots of writers choose anonimity, and if I ever reach a much wider audience I might wish I had stuck to calling myself Olaf Mosely. Well, maybe I’d have chosen something better than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. People tend to get very serious on that Guardian website. And pretty pious, too. I used to say the Guardian message board is made up of the type of people who’d snort organic cocaine, were there such a thing (only a matter of time).
      And yes, fuck my family and friends. Complete agree. They’ll have to deal with it.
      Cheers Olaf!

      Like

  4. I used to but for slightly different reasons – I started writing and sharing stories online when I was 12, so defs didn’t want people at school or my parents knowing what I was writing. But I also wanted to hide my gender. My first account was as just me but received so many weird comments that I decided it was easier to be a guy online. Now I’ve kind of blown my first pseudonym… but I don’t know if I miss it. Some of what I write I still wouldn’t want to share as myself. However, when I think about *why*, I realise it’s probably more to do with the fact that I’m worried what people think more than anything else. Would a new nom de plume help or hinder, I don’t know.

    Like

      1. I think a bit of both in my case… I have a tendency to include characters that I know are controversial, relationships that will make people squirm, tread a very fine line with sensationalism. So yeah, a little of both.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Had no idea that wasn’t your real name, it’s good though, sounds writery. I don’t use a pseudonym as such just a wanky pen name using initials and my middle name which I never otherwise use to make myself sound more pretentious. Which works for me as I mostly write fantasy or speculative and the whole initials thing is well worn in those genres. But I’m planning on writing a detective novel next and am toying with doing it under a pseudonym depending on how the querying of my first novel goes. So how did you settle on Jack Binding?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your pen name fits great, I think. I think you should stick it for the detective novel.
      Binding is an old family name (great grandfather’s surname) and Jack … well it fits and also, Jack the Ripper. Good for horror. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I use a pen name. It gets a little awkward when friends or family try to follow me on fb or twitter. I run a ‘hell no’ policy too. You’re right, it’s easier to put myself out there knowing the locals aren’t judging. That’s the problem of being an introvert. Besides: business is business.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I write under a pseudonym and haven’t told people in real life what it is. The main reason is because I want people to be able to find my professional (day job) self on the web without accidentally stumbling over the fantasy and random silliness I write under my pseudonym.

    Plus it’s a little bit fun to have a secret identity. I always thought it would be cool to be a spy (except I’d make a sucky spy because I’m terrible at lying). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, I might have told one person, because I couldn’t resist. And I told a few other people I have a pseudonym, but not what it is. Did I mention I also suck at keeping secrets? But I’m thrilled and flattered you think I’d make an excellent spy. I’m shopping for a tux already.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The joys of having a nickname and a real name. Real name goes on documents, nickname is my writer (and artist when I tried to do something with my degree) name.
    On my blog I write about fairly normal things, my novels though are getting darker with each re-write! Haha, looking forward to the ‘I knew she was always cracked!’ comments 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yeah, I get those already by the simple phrase, ‘I am a writer.’ It is a small talk road block! Most people can’t comtemplate why I prefer to be at home writing than in a pub getting hammered. Especially since I’m Irish and I must love to drink.
        But, I think the fact I went through art college most people that I am friends with understand the creative side because I would bore them to tears if they asked me anything during that period!! My friends think the writing makes sense. My family don’t mention it, ever. Strangers give me the eyeroll.

        …My cat just walked across my glass of orange juice… Thanks!

        Liked by 2 people

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