Friday, December 19, 2008

I Am Queen of the Wild Things! That's "Mom" to You.

You talk about "strange" writers and some you can tell right off the bat that maybe they have birth defects of the membrane or something of the sort. I write under a pseudonym. The pseudonym is [redacted]. There are a variety of reasons I do this none of which you will be interested in. Nevertheless, in your experience, if somebody sends in manuscripts under a name that is obviously a pen name and a slightly strange one too, does that make you view the manuscript any differently?
Yes.
Why wouldn't you want your editor to know your name? What name would the publisher put on the contract? Under what name would they file the book for copyright?

A pseudonym is what you put on the book. If you want to go full-on Lemony Snicket or Pseudonymous Bosch, the marketing department too can use only your pseudonym. But you can bet Daniel's and Avi's editors know their real names.

Those authors are perceived as "quirky". If you really, really, really don't want to tell anyone your name, that's going to be perceived as "wacko".

So let's assume you can somehow figure out the legal ramifications of having your work copyrighted to somebody who doesn't exist and having your checks made out to someone who can't open a bank account. As you may have guessed from this blog, editors treasure and adore the sweet, stable, wholly-in-their-right-mind authors.

We meet lots of people under the mistaken impression that they need to be bizarre to be seen as original. That being imaginative is an excuse for being impossible. That being an artist is a substitute for being honest.

No. The unbridled freedom of your creativity does not give you license to behave like a total weirdo. Feel free to wear your wolf suit when you go visiting the wild things. But if you expect any damn dinner, you'll put some pants on.

13 comments:

tammi said...

Shoot.

There goes my idea for subbing my stuff under Ima Bestseller.......

Kerry said...

shoot.

ae said...

:)

I love that second to last paragraph.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

EA said:
"...We meet lots of people under the mistaken impression that they need to be bizarre to be seen as original. That being imaginative is an excuse for being impossible. That being an artist is a substitute for being honest..."


Wee! I love it when EA waxes poetic. And I really like this (above paragraph), as it can be applied to almost any career or personal situation. Like the guy you think is charming and waste a year of your life on, until you realize that isn't charm, he's just a player. Or the boss you assume is a taskmaster because she sees potential in you, until, no, later, you understand she's just a bitch because she can be.

Nothing in life is a substitute for straightforwardness. I worry about writers that are focused more on their own image than they are their book. Who among us hasn't imagined ourselves signing autographs and being on best-seller lists? It's just that those visions of grandeur quickly fade (or should fade) when you sit down to write. Because it's hard. And even harder still to ever have an editor be excited about your ms. Faced with that, not wanting an editor to know your name simply sounds like a writer who is too wrapped up in their own fantasy life to be a productive.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Here's a question-- what about people who have names that SOUND like Pseudonyms due to crazed parents?

Should they submit under their real crazy name, or make up a normal sounding one like
"Janet Campbell" or something?

Kelly said...

And my pen name was going to be
Reed Menow... DRAT!

Chris said...

There is the occasional legitimate reason. "James Tiptree Jr." was actually Alice Sheldon, who was afraid she would not be taken seriously in SF as a woman. In addition, there is a story (perhaps apocryphal [darn, I know that's not spelled right!]) that she also chose a pseudonym because of ther background in the CIA.

Anonymous said...

Suppose you're interested in using a name that isn't obviously a pseudonym? For instance your legal name is Ruthie Ann (says so right on your birth certificate), but you'd rather publish under the name Ruthanne? Would that automatically mark you as strange in an editor/publisher's view?

Jo said...

How about if you're published as a children's author but you also have a raunchy, gritty adult novel you want to pitch elsewhere?

Editorial Anonymous said...

If you want to write under a pen name for whatever reason (you have sexy adult novels; your parents named you Moonbeam; you just feel like it) that's just fine.

But you should expect to tell your editor your real name.

(And if you really disagree that much with what your parents named you, maybe you want to change your name legally? I know one author who did.)

Anonymous said...

Suppose you go mainly by a nickname, and wish to publish under the nickname. When and how do you bring this up? Do you submit as Joe Smith, Nickname Smith or Joe "Nickname" Smith?

Anonymous said...

Wait, Pseudonymous Bosch is Avi? Really? Like Stephen King, is he too prolific for one name?

Editorial Anonymous said...

No. His first name is just Avi.