RTW: The Name Game

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s Road Trip Wednesday! If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know the score: the smart and creative YA Highway ladies come up with a topic, and those participating blog their take on that topic. Each participant then posts a link to their blog in the comments on the YA Highway blog so everyone can check out each other’s response. Blog carnival. Lots of fun!

Today’s RTW question is:Β If you couldn’t use your own name, what would your pseudonym or penname be?

One reason writers adopt a pen name is if they publish in multiple genres, so their real name gets associated with one genre, while their pen name goes with a different genre. That way, readers are less likely to get confused over what to expect from a particular author’s work. If Stephen King were to write a children’s picture book, I daresay his publisher would advise he use a pen name, so parents wouldn’t be concerned about their kids reading stories about psychotic flesh-eating bunny rabbits, or something.

I can’t say I’m overly tempted to use a pen name. I know I don’t have the most original name, but it’s fairly easy to pronounce (as long as you remember it’s Colin with a short “o” as in hop, not a long “o” as in hose), and I use my middle initial to make it a little more distinguishable from other Colin Smiths. The only reason I may want to consider a pen name would be for the reason I gave above: for work written in another genre.

In addition to my YA novels, I have also written some detective stories. I wrote them some years ago, and they’re nowhere near ready for primetime yet, but I might at some point want to try to get these in the market place. If at that time I’m already established as a YA author, I might consider a pen name for these. I could either go with an anagram of my name: Tim Shinloc (which, actually, isn’t that bad), or perhaps something more “detective-y”–like Art Christie (Art as in Arthur Conan Doyle, and Christie as in Agatha Christie). Or perhaps Hugh Dunnet. πŸ™‚

If you write, have you considered using a pseudonym? I only gave one reason why authors use different names; there are many other reasons. Why might you? Feel free to join in the YA Highway RTW fun and blog your answer, or at least go to the YA Highway blog and see what pseudonyms other people have chosen!

46 thoughts on “RTW: The Name Game

  1. Amy Renske

    I like “Tim Shinloc” — nice ring to it! I wrote a rather long-winded response (as usual) to today’s question on my blog. I do use a pen name, and I primarily use it because, ironically, it keeps me honest. Where I am in my life right now, I believe I would be tempted to self-censor if I didn’t use a pseudonym. But who knows? Maybe someday I will no longer feel the need.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I feel the same need to be honest and real, both in my “real” life as well as my online life. In my writing, my blogs, my tweets, and my interaction with people in the real world, I want to be who I am, and not what people might expect me to be. And for me, that means using my real name.

      If I were to use a pseudonym, it would be purely for marketing purposes, and I would make no secret of the fact that it’s really me. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. JuHaygert

    I like Art Christie πŸ˜‰
    Depending on how well you do with your YA, you wouldn’t need to have a penname for your other genre, only if you want. I wouldn’t want to have a second penname.
    Take Stephen King for example. The man could write in any genre without ever changing his name πŸ˜‰
    But yeah, I may be thinking to big by pointing out Mr. King lol Well, nothing can stop us form dreaming =)

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Stephen King is his own genre, and you’re right, he could probably write anything and get away with it. In fact, I almost double-checked to make sure he *hadn’t* written a book about psychotic flesh-eating bunny rabbits–I wouldn’t be surprised if he had. πŸ™‚

      It would be nice to be in that position, surely.

      Reply
  3. 18204947645072077476

    I like Tim Shinloc and kind of love Hugh Dunnet!

    I’d prefer my real name over a pen name any day. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a pen name, it’s just my thing.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      My thing too–I want to see my name on a book, not a pseudonym. Though I’ll keep Tim Shinloc and Hugh Dunnet in mind, just in case. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Jennifer Hoffine

    Sometimes it would be good to pick a different name for each genre…I’ve heard some authors do it because bookstores stock according to past sales, so smaller sales in mysteries, which has a niche but loyal audience, could bring down sales in other genres.

    Reply
  5. Robin Moran

    Art Christie is fantastic! I think the references are pretty cool.

    I use a pen name for blogging and for writing, which I’d use for all genres and markets. If I use too many names I know I’ll end up confusing myself, haha!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thanks! Art thanks you too. He thinks he’s pretty wonderful, but so would you if you were less than a day old. πŸ™‚

      I like the idea of dabbling in different genres, but–assuming I use a pseudonym–I would probably just have one. I’d publish under either my real name, or that pseudonym.

      Reply
  6. 05904434201513692013

    I think Shinloc should be the first name of the detective in the mystery stories. LOVE it, and it sounds SO detective-y, if you’ll forgive the word.
    I say keep the same name for both genres, and when your YA readers grow up they can read your detective books!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Katharine! I hadn’t considered Shinloc as a character name, but that’s a good idea. I’ll file that one away. πŸ™‚

      It’s very possible my readers will be sophisticated enough to be able to handle my multiple genres. I’d certainly discuss this with my agent. I would prefer to publish everything under my real name, but I wouldn’t rule out using a pen name under advisement.

      Reply
  7. kate scott

    I like Tim Shinloc a lot. One other reason people use pennames that nobody has talked about is that some names are to common. There is actually a best selling author currently published, writing under my real name. So I have to use a penname. Even if there isn’t another Colin D Smith out there, you may want to check and make sure there aren’t any established authors with names to similar to yours.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Tim thanks you, Kate. He’s building a fan club already!

      I googled Colin D Smith, and at the moment I google well. My web site and blog are both top of the list. I know there are other Colin Smiths–even other Colin D Smiths, but right now, if you’re looking for the YA writer Colin D Smith, according to Google, that’s me.

      Of course, things can change quickly, which is why I need to get published soon. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. JaimeMorrow

    Hugh Dunnet – hahaha nice! You’re definitely right about picking a pen name for genre-hopping. I think that’s a wise idea (especially in the Stephen King example you gave). I’ve never really given much thought to a pen name before today. I always just kind of got hung up on choosing between: J. Morrow, J.A. Morrow, Jaime Morrow, and so on. Just variations on my own name. I think I’ll just stick with Jaime Morrow. Easy. =) Adding your middle initial is probably a good idea because Colin Smith feels like a name that others probably have, maybe even another author.
    P.S. That pic cracked me up πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      My wife cringed at Hugh Dunnet, but I like it. I might use it one day. πŸ™‚

      There are other Colin Smiths out there–even a pastor who is much more well-known than me. I’ve received email from people asking if I’m *that* Colin Smith, to which I reply “no… I am not currently in pastoral ministry and, while I blog theology and bible stuff, I’m not *that* Colin Smith!” So I did indeed add the D to help make the distinction. And it seems to be working out well (google Colin D Smith to see for yourself)!

      I’m glad you like the pic. I did it myself. Well, not the original painting. Just the glasses and mustache. There’s not a lot of my original artwork on this blog (for good reason–drawing is NOT my gifting), so I’m glad you appreciated it. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      I bet he *has* written the psychotic flesh-eating bunny rabbit story. Stephen, if you’re reading this:

      a) Become one of my GFC Members–potential agents will be really impressed.
      b) Write that picture book–for your grandkids, perhaps (assuming you have grandkids). πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. Rebecca B

    Hugh Dunnet FTW!
    Multiple genres is a good reason to use a pen name. It’s been fun today seeing who would change his/her name as well as why.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      This has been really good fun–both writing and commenting, but also reading people’s stories, and finding out a little more about everyone. You people are just so INTERESTING!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  10. Jani

    Another fan of Art Christie here. I’ve never considered using a pseudonym, I like my name and how short it is. Not to mention how easy it is to spell.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Art’s fist-pumping. I think he’s getting ready to design his own web site and t-shirts. What can I say? He’s a little full of himself. πŸ™‚

      I’m happy with using my name, too. Though “Colin” is frequently mispronounced and, subsequently, misspelled. People who pronounce it with a long “o” (i.e., incorrectly) tend to spell it correctly. People who pronounce it correctly, with a short “o,” tend to spell it Collin. I can understand this. But it’s wrong. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Hmmm… Alicoroga sounds almost Japanese. I’ll check with Second Born on that one (she’s the Japanophile)–it might mean something awesome. πŸ™‚

      Thanks, Cara!

      Reply
  11. Beck

    Art Christie is rather cool but would you remember it was you? Colin Smith is easy for readers to find/remember (rather than typing in versions and giving up). And an anagram… got me thinking now…

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Yeah… Art is kind of taking on a life and mind of his own. He’s already calling around for designers for his web site. I’m tempted to leave him alone to get on with it while I write the novels. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Cindy Thomas

    I love Tim Shinloc and how you came up with Art Christie. I have a few friends who write across multiple genres and they do use pseudonyms for their other work. It makes sense and keeps readers from being confused, I think. Another nice post, Colin!

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Cindy. My wife agrees with those that have suggested I use Shinloc as a detective’s name. Shinloc McShane, or Shinloc O’Shaunessey. Can you tell we both went with the Irish theme? πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Juliemybird

    Anagrams! I hadn’t thought of that. Hmm… the anagrams for my name tend to be amusing. Joan Glum, for one. What kind of books would *that* poor soul write? Here’s another vote for Art Christie. And Tim Shinloc. And, oh my gosh, Hugh Dunnet. Haha.

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      Thanks, Julie! Anagrams can work well–the trick is making them not look or sound like an anagram. At least Joan Glum *could* be someone’s name, even though I’m sure an agent would recommend she change it! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. Angelica R. Jackson

    Hmm, never noticed that I can get “anger jackal” from my name–now you’ve got me wondering about the hidden meanings of anagrams. I also have a numerology book for naming characters that’s pretty fun (and eerily accurate when I look up the names of people I know).

    Reply
    1. cds Post author

      You can get Selina Jo from your name too, but I couldn’t figure out something nice with the rest of the letters. Selina Jo [something] might make a good pen name. πŸ™‚

      Reply
    1. cds Post author

      A couple of the other teachers that posted pointed out the fact that their students might google them, and they may not want their students to read their stuff–in other words, their teaching careers might suffer as a result of their writing careers. And while we could argue whether teachers should fear for their jobs because they write novels that their students’ parents may not want their children to read, the whole issue can be avoided by the simple act of using a pseudonym. That way, the students don’t make the connection between Mrs. Teacher and Mrs. Author, and both can go on happily with their lives.

      That’s not a perspective I had considered before today, and I can certainly respect it. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  15. Kris Atkins

    You mean, you don’t want people to confuse you with an anatomical term? Heh heh. ^_^
    Kris Atkins is technically a pen name, since my first name is really Kristina. But Kristina Atkins is super common and not special, and so is Kris Atkins, but I figured by shortening it from 5 boring syllables to 3, it would be more memorable. And shorter to sign. Plus, sundry people in my life call me Kris (such as 3/4 of my siblings, some friends, and my husband on occasion), so it’s not a stretch.

    Reply
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