Interesting conversation on writer names taking place over at Kristin Nelson’s blog. It starts here and continues for a few posts.
I have to admit that this is a purely esoteric rant because ultimately, what author name you use isn’t that big of a deal. This is purely something that annoys me and really isn’t a huge issue in the grand scheme of things.
I want to talk about author names because ultimately, promoting your work and getting published is all part of one big package of professionalism.
And, I think writers are potentially too hung up on their formal names (as in using first, middle, maiden, and last name). [Uh oh….]
I wouldn’t blame you if you are scratching your head at this moment, so let me explain. If you write literary fiction, I think using three names is fine as long as there is a memorable rhythm to it (Jonathan Safran Foer pops to mind).
Otherwise, three names is overkill and potentially not in your best interest (in terms of name recognition, ease of finding you in the bookstore, etc.) It can sound pretentious and if you are writing a big, bad thriller, it’s potentially defeatist. It’s James Patterson, Lisa Scottoline, Iris Johansen, John Grisham, Robert Crais, Lee Child. Boom, boom, boom.
Oh dear. Well, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the name I want to publish under, which is really a cart before the horse approach, but it IS a career decision and I didn’t want to give it too little thought at the last minute, if that makes sense.
I am not absolutely tied to using my real name, which really is Lynn Raye Harris. Lynn Harris is a total no go. There is an actress (nude pics available, apparently), a comedienne/author with a column on MSN, a personal injury lawyer, a gay black author (add an E. at the beginning), and who knows who else. My maiden name is worse. Hard to pronounce unless you’re from Texas (there’s a town of the same name, though different spelling) and just not too terribly attractive emblazoned across a book cover to tell the truth.
So I have considered a pseudonym. I have a few picked out, but actually deciding on one now and building a website–well, that really is shoving the cart over the cliff, isn’t it?
Yes, I have a website (and this blog) under my real name. I mostly did that because I wanted to learn how to build a website before it was necessary. Changing things to a pseudonym isn’t really that hard, and it’s not like I have a ton of name recognition on the web anyway. Folks on blogs know LRH, but how hard would it be to introduce a new name if necessary? Not terribly, I think.
So, yeah, I’m open to a name change. I’ll make the best business decision I am capable of. And it may be ditching the legal name for a fictional one. I haven’t crossed that bridge yet, so no major decisions necessary. But I want to be prepared.
Am I upset about the idea of having books out and not having my real name on them? At least one person in the comments trail of some of Kristin’s posts refuses to consider anything other than her real name. That’s her decision. But I can take it. I really want to build a career, and if that means LRH may write literary fiction at some point and Betty Business will pen the romances, so be it.
What about you? To pseudonym or not, that is the question…..