Why I Don't Use A Pseudonym; Or, Just As Everything
By Kris Kennedy
I’m a debut author, and my first book, THE CONQUEROR, comes out today, May 5. I’m pretty much shaking in my boots.
I essentially know nothing about the business of publishing, nothing about what sells books (yes, a ‘great’ book sells, but still, that hardly provides clarity, does it?) I certainly had no idea there’d be so many decisions to make, and me, knowing nothing, in a very poor position to make them.
One was whether to use a pseudonym or not.
It’s not as if I didn’t go back and forth on it, but finally (I thought), I made my certain decision: use a pseudonym. I even bought domain names for some alternatives I was tossing around. I’m a psychotherapist. I really didn’t want my clients sitting there picturing some of the more racy scenes while trying to process their fight with their boss the day before. I mean, I really didn’t want that.
But . . . I started re-thinking. I was already cutting back on my therapy practice, focusing more on family and writing. Less need to protect my clients from my imagination. LOL And if someone really wanted to find me for nefarious purposes, well, really it wouldn’t be so hard. And so a pseudonym began to seem, well, unnecessary.
But that’s not why I didn’t use one. That decision came from pure . . . rebelliousness.
Or, perhaps ‘contrariness’ is a better word. My husband applies both to me, so either *could* fit, I suppose.
Here’s the conversation I’ve had so many times, as soon as someone finds out I have a book coming out.
It goes something like this:
Them: “Oh, you have a book coming out? Wow! That’s fabulous! What do you write?”
Me, big smile: “Romance. Historical romance.”
Them: “Oh. Um, wow. And … are you writing under your own name?”
“Why, yes!” I exclaim happily. “And you? Do you work under your own name?”
Okay, I don’t say that last bit. Yet.
I was just getting P.O.-ed that that the pseudonym question was everyone’s first. Or maybe their second. It rarely took took much longer than that. It made me angry. Rebellious. Contrary.
And I wondered if other genre writers get asked the same question with such alacrity. Perhaps. I do not know. I will explore this issue though, one day.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand if someone chooses to write under a pseudonym. There’s dozens of reasons to do so. Come a time, I might make such a decision, depending on how hot things got in my writing.
But what bothers me was the immediate assumption that I’d want to hide what I do. Perhaps that I *should* hide what I do. Distance myself from it. Shame. Shame. Shame.
Whoops. That’s no good. I’m all done with pointless shame.
So, I write under my own name.
I am Kris Kennedy. I am a psychotherapist, a mother, a wife, and I read & write romance. I’m just as smart as I was a few minutes ago. Just as funny. Just as deserving of respect. Just as everything.
I read romance.
I write it.
And it’s about love, and sacrifice, and devotion.
Not sure what I’d should be ashamed of.
Yea, no pseudonyms needed. Not just now.
You? What do you do? Why?
Thanks. We all have different ways of developing it . . .
Well, I totally understand your life can’t revolve around the RJ book club. LOL But I suppose, if you’re buying my book while you’re out, I can excuse you . . .
I think you’re totally onto something there with the heroine writer!
Kris, I’m sorry I’m going to have to miss you on Friday, but at least I’ll be out buying your book! So I’ll be thinking about you. I’ll just have to catch up by reading everything when I get back home.
BTW, what a great premise for a heroine! Just think, Castle gets reactions to his being a writer. Why not use the reaction and subsequent writer reaction (smart retort) for a little conflict? Hmmmmmmm.
Aw, thanks. I agree–when we work hard and achieve a goal, we can be proud of that. Thanks for the congrats!
LOL Yes, I am off the ceiling, but still hovering a bit above the floor. 🙂
I’ll look forward to your questions on Friday!
Thanks for the enthusiasm, and for saying Hi!
LOL–I think you’re right: my question about whether *they* work under their own name might indeed slip out one day. But I’ll be smiling when I do it. And hopefully, maybe, illustrate an underlying assumption they didn’t even realize they had made.
Because I’m pretty certain I don’t go DOWN in anyone’s estimation when they learn I write romance. But I’m just as certain they don’t start re-thinking their unstated assumptions about romance fiction as a result.
I think I need to start helping them do that. Ahh, a mission. How wonderful. I’m so well suited for them.
Well, yes, now that you mention it, I believe I DID grin a lot throughout release day, starting with awakening . . . 🙂 It’s funny, with the internet, certain lines or thresholds get blurred, and so I don’t think a release day feels as specific a thing as it might have, say, 10 years ago.
Cheryl, if you do get the book, I really hope you like it! Thanks for saying Hi.
Okay, now I’m realizing I did a typo when I replied to the first Pam’s reply, who was a Pam P, but I responded to her with Pam S. And now there IS a Pam S. LOL So sorry for the typo, Pam P–my first reply was totally for you!
Eee! I’m so glad the book looks good to you! Let’s hope it looks just as good *after* you read it. LOL
I agree–there’s definitely a time to go the pseudonym route. I think we all respect each author’s decision on what’s best for her & her family. The problem comes in other people assuming we WOULD–or maybe SHOULD??-use one.
It’s a weird automatic thing. I’m certain people don’t even realize they’re doing it. But I’m going to do a study one day, and see if romance authors get it more than others. Mark my words . . .
Thanks for saying Hi, Pam, and hopefully ‘see’ you on Friday at RJ book club!
You go girl! You can certainly be proud of your work! Congrats on the release!
Congrats on your release! Have you peeled yourself off the ceiling yet? The book looks awesome and I can’t wait to see you on the RJR loop Friday… Hmm thinking up my questions now 🙂
Good for you! Not only is it nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a major accomplishment to actually have something published. Right on!
Kris, I just love your rebelliousness. But then, I am a ‘rebel at heart’ myself!!
I like your stand. It’s so true. Who knows, your question about working under your name just might slip out one day!! Very good point, though.
Happy Very First Release Day Kris! I bet you woke up grinning from ear to ear this morning. The Conqueror sounds great, I’ll be sure to look for a copy when I hit the bookstore this weekend~
Congrats on your release Kris it looks awesome!
Kudos to you on not using pseudonyms. I can see a time to use them though based on what the others and you have posted in response :).
Thanks for the support!!
LOL–I’ll keep being a goddess in mind whenever I get low. It’ll help perk me up again. 🙂
The reasons you mention for doing a pseudonym make sense. Both the ‘selfish’ (I worked hard for this!) and the practical (writing in different styles, so don’t want to confuse the reader).
And don’t forget, you’re a goddess, too! *grin*
I debated on the pseudonym thing as well, but truly, my reasons were far more selfish. My conversation was about one sentence — I’ve worked this hard, I want MY name on that cover. 🙂
I do have plans to write in another genre, and actually I will use a pen name for that genre because it will be completely different from my historicals. But that’s more to separate the styles than anything else.
Can’t wait to read your book. 🙂
Congrats Kris!!! I can’t wait to read it!
Hi Pam S,
You’re totally right! As far as ‘heat’ levels, there may easily come a time in my writing that I’ll write a book that will get hot enough so I don’t want some member of my family or neighbors knowing it’s me. That feels different, doesn’t it? People project, and think they know something about you when they read s*x scenes, and that’s the LAST thing I want from my neighbors!
I’m so glad ot hear THE CONQUEROR has been on your wishlist, Pam! That makes my day. Thanks for saying so. I really hope you enjoy!
I find authors who write more erotic tend to go for pseudonyms, then there are various reasons to do with publishers, but good for you Kris. Love your comeback (Do you work under your own name). Congrats on the release, has been on my wishlist.