Chat Between Chapters: Pseudonyms

June 12, 2016 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 15


  Let’s chat about pseudonyms. Like them? Dislike them? Who are some famous authors who use them?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:


I certainly have nothing against using a pen name or alias in writing. I can definitely understand the need/desire to separate one’s public life from the private family life we wish to protect. I also understand when someone has a complex name, picking a pseudonym that is more catchy and fun. I also know several authors who write under a different name for different genres. For example, if they write YA and also adult/steamy books, they will have two different names to publish under. That’s a pretty good idea. I think what bothers me about pseudonyms are women writers use a male name as their pseudonym. Do they feel it gives them a different kind of credibility or reaches a different target audience? I understand there was a need for that in more ancient times when women didn’t have many rights or privileges, but it seems absurd to do that now.



It’s always a shock to me to find out one author is publishing under different names. I am completely oblivious to pseudonyms most of the time. I think I read 3 or 4 J.D. Robb books before someone pointed out that Nora Roberts was the same author. I can see the point, though, especially, as Julie points out, writing in more than one genre. And I fully approve of an author using a pseudonym to protect personal privacy. I wouldn’t want random fans knocking on my door!

Some authors that I can think of who use use pseudonyms include:

  • J.D. Robb\Nora Roberts
  • Stephen King
  • J.K. Rowling\Robert Galbraith
  • Elizabeth Peters\Barbara Mertz\Barbara Michaels
  • Robert Doherty\Bob Mayer

I found a whole Wikipedia list of pseudonyms for perusal.

What are your feelings towards pseudonyms? Pro? Con?

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15 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Pseudonyms”

  1. Tiffany

    I’m okay with pseudonyms, though I used to be confused why people want to use pseudonyms. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if you see your own name on a book’s cover? and what’s the point if in the end your reader will know your real name? But yeah, now I understand why people use pseudonyms. Also, you’re right! I don’t understand why woman choose male name pseudonyms nowadays, seeing that both woman and man have the same rights (also, I notice that most debut authors are actually women!). Maybe they just randomly want it xD Anyway, great post!
    Tiffany recently posted…Add These 2017 Books to Your TBR!

    • Julie

      You’re right that most debut authors these days are women. Maybe that’s why some choose to use a male pseudonym – to differentiate themselves?

  2. Bookworm Brandee

    Pseudonyms don’t bother me in the slightest. I understand all the myriad reasons why authors use them…with the exception of, as Julie mentioned, using a male name when you’re a female writer. I don’t get it in this day and age. ESPECIALLY is your publisher is going to boldly print “So and so writing as so and so”. What’s the point? No really. Can someone explain?!?
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…That’s What HE Said #65 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #46

    • Julie

      Ok really, the publisher letting the cat out of the bag on the identity of the author using the pseudonym makes the whole thing pointless.

  3. Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons

    I get when authors write under two different names when they write in two different genres. What I don’t understand is when they write in the same genre. G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston, both are PNR authors. I have no idea why the two different names. The only thing I can figure is a contract thing, kinda like the artist formerly known as Prince.

    I completely understand the need for privacy, but they don’t seem to stay private very long.
    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted…Savage Urges Audiobook by Suzanne Wright (REVIEW)

    • Lynn

      Good point, Melanie, on authors using the different names in the same genre. That is off-putting!

  4. Charlie @ Girl of 1000 Wonders

    I never knew much about pseudonyms and pen names until I was in high school. The only one I know from my own reading experiences is Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, which was done to separate the two genres she writes. I have noticed initials have become very popular in general in the last few years. I don’t generally have one attitude or another toward pen names, except that it’s sad – and still so telling about society – that women elect to write under men’s names in order to be published. Sexism is alive and well.

    • Julie

      Yea, I’m sad that sexism is still alive and well also. Initials are ok, at least if they are true initials. But I don’t like when a whole new male name is created for the pen name.

        • Julie

          Yea I know it’s not a new thing, that’s why I’m upset it is *still* being done. You would think these days it wouldn’t be needed anymore.

  5. Kristine Hall

    This is an interesting conversation! I really prefer at least a real bio of the author – putting that bio together with the story that was written is part of the process. Women using male names, or ambiguous names (like initials) has become a thing of late because apparently there are statistics out there to support (sadly) that manuscripts are accepted more quickly if the author appears to be male. So I think some do it to increase their chances of getting their manuscript read. Then there are the ones like JK Rowling who went to using Robert Galbraithe simply so she could have a fresh start and see if she could sell a book without her Harry Potter creds. Thanks for the post!

    • Julie

      I agree, I often connect not just to the story, but to the author behind it. So a vague bio or a faker bio is weird to me, especially in this day of social media and authors interacting with fans.

  6. Livia

    JD Robb was the first one I knew of back when I started reading her In Death series in the 1990s. Coincidentally, that’s when I finally admitted to myself that I was burned out on her traditional romances. I haven’t read a Nora Roberts’ title since then, just her JD Robb In Death series which I happen to be a good 2 years behind on now.

    I think it’s odd for a female author to choose a male pen name. I’ve speculated that Sylvain Renard is actually a senior female who is afraid her mature age wouldn’t help her sell her novels when she first started. Now s/he has a large enough fan following of her Gabriel series that you would think s/he would start doing personal appearances for book signing events instead of having his/her publisher continue to do so.

    I think a male author has less of an automatic appeal. Men no longer wrote romantic fiction as we defined the genre circa 1980s up through today. Now it’s cool again so I think some males are venturing into romance although I know none that are famous other than Nicholas Sparks.

    Personally, I’m always suspicious of any author who does not share his or her picture and marital status. These are more often than not an automatic I won’t read criteria now for me because I don’t appreciate that level of secrecy from someone who wants my patronage.

    • Julie

      Yea I don’t like that either when a female author picks a male name. Initials I do understand, though, I guess. I do like how the different names have different genres and styles. I read one of the JD Robb and it was very different than her Nora Roberts writing.

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