Open Mic Blog
|Posted on October 15, 2012 at 10:05 AM|
White Shadow/Black Beauty?
What do Dr. Seuss, Boz, George Eliot, Lemony Snicket, Mark Twain, Silence Dogwood, and Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell have in common? They all used pen names.
Not so long ago, women had to resort to using a man's name to get their work published. Think the Bronte sisters: Charlotte/Currer, Emily/Ellis, and Anne/Acton Bell. Even today, J.K. Rowling was told to use initials instead of Joanna (her first name) because her publisher thought her book would "sell better if she disguised her gender." She didn't have a middle name, so they gave her the middle initial of "K." Obviously, that strategy paid off in gold bullion!
Some writers today use pen names when they switch genres, so their devoted fans don't turn on them. Writers like actors tend to get typecast (think John Boy, Julia Roberts, Stephen King (Richard Bachman), and Patricia Cornwell) so if they want to break out and write a pop-up book (which I adore!) or something, they might adopt a clever pen name to publish incognito.
I ran across a wonderful discussion of pen names in The Atlantic and learned a number of facts about author's names that I didn't know: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/the-strange-stories-behind-famous-writers-pen-names/255619/#slide1
Are pen names really necessary in the 21st century? What would you change your name to if you had to make up a pen name? Don't be shy!