Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Writing under a Pen Name

Many writers write multiple books under pen names.
They have various reasons for doing this.

Some reasons:
-- 1) They write several books a year and their publisher doesn't want the books competing with each other.
-- 2) They write very different types of books under separate names -- such as nonfiction under one name, Adult Mysteries under another, and Children's books under a third.
-- 3) They have writing partners and decided to combine their names. There's an adult writing team that took the first names of each writer. (It might be Fern Michael, I can't remember.) And then there is me.

Some years ago, two writer friends and I wrote several books together. We did it for fun -- but when we were done, we liked them so much that we sent them out to publishers. Rejections, and rejections, and finally they were accepted. When it came time to decide on the author's name, we tried several things.

Putting all three names on the cover and spine just wouldn't work -- no room.
Mary Bowman-Kruhm
Wendie Old
Claudine Wirths
-- I don't think so.

So we tried mooshing our names together. Mary W. Wirths? No good, I said, knowing from my librarian experience that the books at the end of the alphabet were not checked out as often as the books in the A's and B's.

Publish it under one of our names?
Not fair to the others.

We combined the names.
Claudine's first initial.
My first initial.
And shortened Mary's Last name. Really, really short.
Introducing -- C. W. Bowie

Great idea -- this puts the books right between the Berenstain Bears and Marc Brown's Arthur books!

Do you have a pen name?
How did you create it?


Anonymous said...

(This is Amy from the writer's seminar you gave yesterday, at the college. Thanks again for talking with me!)

I have considered using a pen name, mainly because I feel that some of the things I write about will be based on life experiences, and it could become obvious who I mean. My purely fiction work, should it be published, will probably be under my name - the only problem there is that someone with my name has a writing website with my first and last name as their domain.

I like C.W. Bowie - it's quite clever.

Wendie O said...

You may have to use your middle initial for your "nom de plume." (writing name/ pen name)

That happened to John D. MacDonald. There already was a John MacDonald writing mysteries. So he just proceeded to make John D. MacDonald his writing name. And became the more famous of the two.

I just checked the library catalog -- and there are THREE John MacDonalds -- but only one John D. MacDonald.