Not-so-secret Pseudonyms

This is something I've wanted to talk about for a while: why do authors write under pseudonyms (which is defined as anonymous, fictitious, etc. etc.) and then print right on the book who they really are?!

I mean, I totally understand writing under a pseudonym. Especially if you're someone like JK Rowling, and you're kind of known for one thing. I was really surprised to find out JK wasn't writing under a pseudo.

And I can even understand Janette Rallison deciding to publish her sci-fi fantasy books under CJ Hill. Because they are totally different from her contemps, and I don't blame her for wanting people to see them in different lights, or whatever the reasoning was. But she still keeps the two names separate. It's not a super secret that JR is also CJH, but it's also not shouted to the rooftops (at least, not that I've noticed).

<--- But what about this? I feel like this defeats the purpose. Why would you write under a pseudonym, and then WRITE YOUR REAL NAME ON THE BOOK?! Were the books not as successful as your other books? DUH! You should have known that going in! You should have just published a mystery series under your actual name! Mystery and romance aren't that different, right?

So I want to know what you guys think. How do you feel about authors using pseudonyms in general? And how do you feel about them not keeping those pseudonyms a secret? Does anyone know why already-established authors choose pseudonyms? What's the main reason? And why do they not keep the names separate?

Maybe I'm just extra passionate about this because I am a pseudonym writer, and I take almost neurotic care to make sure that my pseudonym and my real name remain totally separate. If you google both of my names together, you get no results! So... why don't authors take pseudonyms as seriously? I'M SO CONFUSED!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012


  1. In the case of Nora Roberts/ JD Robb (both names are pseudonyms, btw) its because she writes so prolifically, her publishing house asked her to take another name so they could publish more of her books per year. Her dual names have always been an open secret, as far as I can tell. I only know this from having spent many years working in bookstores - it's a discussion that came up a lot!

    For Jayne Castle, she had signed a contract in which she sold her name to her publisher. This forced her to publish under other names.

    I have not heard of that other author, though!

  2. I was under the impression that the change in genre, writing style, whatever prompted this. That they didn't want to loose the fans that would cross over, but wanted to signify that there was enough difference that fans who don't read one name, can and potentially will read another. But what do I know? I've never spoken (in person or otherwise) to them. ::shrug::

  3. What Jenna said. :)

    In this day and age, it's difficult to keep pseudonyms a secret for long, at least once you hit a certain level – and sometimes cross-branding can be beneficial for both parties. (And again, once you hit a certain level, your name essentially becomes your brand.)

    So, in a case like that, where the pseudonym is about marketing more than secrecy, we understand why people are open about it. But in a case like yours, where you are trying to protect your real identity, things are different.

  4. If you look up why authors choose pseudonyms, there are a lot of articles. I've read a fair amount about it, as I'm considering using one for self-publishing.

  5. I know what you mean I have recently been going by "Ghost" on my blog since the name of my blog is Ghost in the still makes sense though everyone knows I'm kate every where else (I still need to change the name to ghost here)

    you know the author Erin hunter? she writes the warrior cat series? Idk who else knows this but I was shocked to find out that its actually 4 different writers not one lady I thought it was like a james paterson thing but its not its four different people shocking

  6. I don't like them in general unless - like in the case of Erin Hunter, mentioned above, it's several people collaborating and publishing under one name. Only because, in my opinion, it's harder to get people to read co-written books.

    But Nora Roberts is just silly.


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