Maxie Steer is my pseudonym (gasp! NO WAY! Say it ain’t so!).
I’ll give you a moment.
Now that you’ve recovered from my truth, hear me out.
The reason I started writing under a different name is because I had other hopes for my writing career. I want to publish with the name my parents gave me, but on an academic platform. Back in college, I had written articles for business journals (none that were picked up) and thought I would be able to establish myself as an authority in that realm. It hasn’t happened yet. The hope is still alive, ya’ll!
But, if I’m really honest, back when I chose to be Ms. Steer I didn’t think it all the way through to that conclusion. Maxie was built out of fear and the adventure of becoming someone else, someone more bold, more artistic, less me. I had very little confidence in my writing ability and though I enjoyed my poetry and stories, I needed something to hide behind in case no one else did.
Many authors consider a pseudonym as a pragmatic step in forming their writing career. This three part mini-series is meant to help you navigate the nuts-and-bolts about writing with a pen name:
- Part 1 – Why Use a Pseudonym
- Part 2 – Choosing a Pseudonym
- Part 3 – Managing Your Pseudonyms
Why Use a Pseudonym?
If you answer “Yes” to any of the questions below, you should consider taking on a nom de plume.
- Do you write erotica that would make Christian Grey blush and work at an elementary/middle/high school? If your real life profession and your chosen genre is incompatible, this will pose a problem. Get a pen name. You do not want your students looking you up on the internet, and they will.
- Is your first name Monica, last name Lewinsky? Maybe you’ll have mad sales in the first few weeks after your book comes out but do you really want to deal with the blow back (tee hee) from angry customers looking for a tell-all? If you have a common name or share the name of a criminal/public figure/Anthony Weiner, get a pen name.
- Do you currently, or will you be writing in multiple genres? It’s not confusing at all when you search for your favorite horror writer to find the next book coming out is a historical romance (that’s sarcasm, btw). If you’re double-dipping in genres that do not complement each other, get a pen name.
- Are you uncomfortable with having your “government name” all over the internet, on the Today Show, or plastered on a bad review? I’m exaggerating but these are possibilities! Both good and bad! Remember, fear of failure and fear of success are equally debilitating. If you’re lacking confidence the way I was and need to build thicker skin, or if you’re unprepared for stardom (you know it, I’m gonna say it!): Get. A. Pen name.
- Do you have a super long name that is hard to pronounce or spell? If it’s gonna take your fans more than five seconds to drop your name in a Google search…get a pen name.
- Do you want to be a superhero and dress like your alter ego at events? Yes! Do you think Bruce Wayne would use his real name while in the Batmobile? You can become a character you create and depending on your genre, this could even enhance your brand and making experience out of meeting the author.
Bottom line: have a good reason for using a pen name. You may not need one, but if you want to use a pseudonym, it can be a great adventure. Stay tuned for Part 2: Choosing a Pseudonym
Ask yourself, “What kind of writer do I want to be?” The question stretches beyond genre, facts, or preference and peeks into the fabric of your persona–not the one you have, but the one you desire.
Do you use a pen name? Tell us why in a comment below.
Check out this article by John Ward (not his real name) “What’s in a Pen Name“
Being a self-published author, the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is talking to people. I know, crazy right? But like many writers, I am the definition of an introvert. I don’t like to speak much, I like to people watch, and I value my alone time. So when I had to start marketing my first novel, my stomach fell and I thought it was going to shoot out my ass.
“What do you mean I have to talk to strangers and pimp myself out?!”
I mean, hello? I write for a reason. I’m a loner, I have voices in my head that’ll give any schizo a run for their money, pajamas are my preferred choice of clothing, and I DON’T LIKE TO TALK TO PEOPLE!
Unfortunately, we cannot be islands, sometimes we need help and that’s where networking comes in. Whether you need an extra hand with promotions, advice on your current WIP’s, or someone to just bounce ideas off, we all need to connect with writers like us.
Yes, even us cranky, coffee inhaling folks need to be with our kind. I know I’m embellishing here, but work with me! I can’t function without my cup of joe first thing in the morning.
In the short time that I’ve been involved in the Indie community, I have met some of the greatest people from all walks of life, and they’ve been a HUGE help in the process of self-publishing. Here’s why:
A Writers Life Is A Lonely Life
Point blank, we’re a weird bunch and our “non-writer” friends sometimes don’t get us.
Just How Badly Do You Suck?
Your mom isn’t going to tell you that you write like a fifth grader, she’s going to love everything you do (thanks mom!), so what better way to bounce ideas and get proper critique on your work, then from fellow writers or people in the industry? They know what to look for!
I’ve Written A Book…Now What?
In the indie writing community you need a ton of other things done before you can hit the publish button. It can range from cover designers, to editors, formatters, etc… I kissed a lot of frogs before I found my dream team to work with and a lot of them were recommendations from other writers.
Bloggers Should Be Your Besties
One thing that many (including myself) don’t realize when we start out, is just how important bloggers are. They’re usually our #1 fans and marketing tools. Befriending them is essential in the indie world.
Cross Promotion Is GOLD
The best promotion is cross promotion with other writers!! You scratch my back, I scratch yours…wink wink nudge nudge 😉
It’s Not Who You Know, But Who Knows You
Let’s be honest for a second…sometimes, our best advantage in this game called “life” are the friendships we make on the way. It can be a game changer for us struggling (broke) writers with an underwear drawer filled with rejection letters, and a stepping stone toward success.
So there you have it folks! Of course this isn’t all the reasons why networking is important, but it’s a start! Drop us a comment with your thoughts, we love to hear from our fellow broke writers!