Monday 23 January 2017

Author - Who do you think you are?

In case you are wondering this is not a post about a genealogy program on TV; instead it's about author identities.

Your author name is your brand and it should be prominent on your books, your website, your blog and in your social media posts.

Why? Let me explain.
Let's suppose you've been hiding in a cave for the last 20 years and come across an awesome book called 'The Green Mile' by some author you've never heard of - Stephen King. You want more of his books so you go searching for them. What do you look up 'The Green Mile' or 'Stephen King'?
Of course you look up 'Stephen King' because his next books won't be called 'The Green Mile'.

If you go looking on Internet for Stephen King at Amazon you'll see:

Notice that his name is the most prominent text on each book?
Many new authors make the mistake of making their titles the most prominent text.

  • Search for and you find the domain is nothing to do with King
  • Search Facebook and you'll find lots of unofficial pages only apart from those for the film
  • Search Twitter for @TheGreenMile and you get a page for Joseph Stewart-Paul who took the name in 2009 and hasn't tweeted yet.
If on the other hand you search for Stephen King you'll find:

But what if I want to use a pen name?

Ask yourself 'why?' 
  • Are you ashamed of your name—is it 'Imani Diot' or  'Adolph Hittler'?
  • Is your name already made famous by some celebrity? Why not make use of this?
  • Are you publishing something you are ashamed of?
  • Are you publishing something that might influence opinions in the wrong way? Isaac Asimov once wrote a short story in the style of a chemistry thesis. 'The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline.' He asked for it to be published under a pen name since he was due to attend his final chemistry doctorate interview and feared it might adversely influence the panel's decision. To his horror it went out under his own name and was widely circulated. At his final interview for his doctorate it wasn't mentioned until the last question, "Now Doctor Asomov what can you tell us about The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline?"
Despite the lack of need for pen names some authors have used them:
  • Isaac Asimov: Paul French.
  • J.K. Rowling: Robert Galbraith. ...
  • Michael Crichton: John Lange, Jeffery Hudson and Michael Douglas. ...
  • Stephen King: Richard Bachman.
  • Charles Dodgson: Lewis Carroll
  • Samuel L. Clemens: Mark Twain
  • Fran├žois-Marie Arouet: Voltaire
  • Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot
Each had a good reason for writing under a pen name but in general - stick to your own name since it makes tax so much easier if your novels take off.

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