Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And My New Name Is...

by Felicia Donovan


I recently bumped into a fellow author at a party for a mutual friend. This gentleman, whom I'll refer to as "George," is a fairly successful published author with a mystery series. On several occasions, we have chatted (make that "commiserated") about the joys and frustrations of the publishing world, while checking in on each others' writing projects.

I asked George how his latest book was coming along. He smiled smugly and said, "I just gave Mary (the party hostess), a review copy. It will be out in two months."

"Really? Can I see it?" I asked looking around the room.

For a second, his eyes landed on a nearby table. I followed his glance to see the soft cover copy sitting, face down, next to a birthday gift. I took a step forward, but felt George's firm hand on my arm.

"I'm using a pseudonym."

I paused mid-step and turned to face him.


George rubbed his wrinkled chin with the palm of his hand.

"It's my agent's idea. You know how it is. Old guy like me can't draw in the young crowd so she thought I could reinvent myself. It's all very silly if you ask me, but don't you know I landed a three-book deal?"

"A three book deal?"

"And," he continued, "it's a better contract than I ever had with my series. You know how those marketing people are. They came up with some younger sounding name and I'm supposed to be some hip young guy in his late twenties. Go figure..."

His words conveyed disdain but there was a clear glimmer of deep satisfaction in his eyes.

"It's the business we're in. After all, they don't call it 'fiction' for nothing..."


And my new name is...


Julia Buckley said...

I love it. And now it's got me thinking . . . .

G.M. Malliet said...

I am having trouble with the concept of a "younger sounding name." What is younger sounding? Trixie Mayflower? Britney Youngblood? Sandee Sprout? The mind reels.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I've got a pen name and real name--seems to be working out all right so far. I've tied the two together on my Twitter page, FB, etc...although my real name is more prominent. Didn't do it for the sound of it, though! Berkley Prime Crime likes pen names.

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Alan Orloff said...

I think I'm going to go with Stephen Kang.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

George is supposed to be some "hip young guy in his late twenties?" I'm guessing the publisher is not using a real author photo or encouraging him to do book signings.

I was told right out of the gate to expect a publisher to suggest pen names if 1) your previous books are not successful, 2) you write something totally different from your other books, 3) your real name is "taken" or too common, or 4) you sign with a different publisher.

G.M. Malliet said...

Elizabeth/Riley: I like your pen name, but this whole discussion reminds me of the Eddie Izzard skit where he says he'd like to have been a fly on the wall when the marketing gurus were coming up with a new name for Arnold George Dorsey.

Their choice, having first brainstormed things like Zingelbert Bembledack and Yingybert Dambleban? Engelbert Humperdinck. Of course!

Felicia Donovan said...

Okay, I've kept you all waiting long enough. My new name is...

"Agatha Crustie." Has a ring to it, don't you think?

G.M. Malliet said...

I'm holding out for Agatha Humperdinck.

Cricket McRae said...

Elizabeth George
Laura Childs
Monica Ferris
All pen names.

In fact, I wonder how many parents would actually name a child "Cricket" ...

Jess Lourey said...

Agatha Crustie! Ha! It's the opposite of young and hip, the exact opposite. Love it.

Keith Raffel said...

Why not try a random name generator. There's one at http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm. Here's what it came up with for me.

1. CHARLES Clawson
3. MARTIN Herrmann
4. JEREMY Sharp
5. JOHNNY Lejeune
6. TERRY Vetter
7. JOSE Monte
8. PHILIP Bullock
9. ROY Mcewen
10. THOMAS Tew

This site suggested "Nobody Carr."