Bookish Bits: Pseudonyms

OK, I’m comfortable with the idea of pseudonyms for authors. Sure, when I was a kid and first ran into the concept (I think it was when someone told me that the Eric G. Iverson guy whose stories I liked in the digests had novels under another name) I was a little shocked, but I’m used to it now.

Some reasons seem more sensible than others, though. I mean, I understand someone who wants to go some genre hopping using different names: I’m fine with Banks’ “M” (although wouldn’t it have been great if he had gone with Johnny B. Macallan?) or with Micheal Marshall dropping his Smith, or even more extreme examples like Stark with Westlake or Rusch’s half dozen.

Similarly, I understand someone who wants to have simultaneous publications using a pseudonym. Or people who just want to write under different name than the one they were born with.

However, when authors are forced by the midlist computer-ordering death spiral to take on a pseudonym to keep writing in their chosen genre, that annoys me. It annoys me because it shouldn’t happen, and the fact that it does is the publishing industry putting a patch on a serious problem. (Also, because I am a crazy person who needs to file fiction by author/series/date, and who worries about filing pseudonyms with “real” names on the shelf.) Note: I am not annoyed with the authors–just the publisher and the retailers, and the system they have allowed to arise.

So I’ve got Hobb with Lindholm1, Glass with Goldstein, Bishop with Marley, and now Anderson with Zettel. And that’s just the women–it seems a more common pattern there, and with the women choosing a more androgynous name for the pseudonym (apparently this helps with sales.) I think I’ve heard Wells and Smith both also discussing pseudonyms for future work as well.

And all those aren’t even on the eight page list or the other giant list. If this keeps happening, my bookshelves are going to be hella complicated–someone better make an up-to-date list.

  1. Yeah, I know.(back)

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4 Responses to “Bookish Bits: Pseudonyms”

  1. […] So, Jeff VanderMeer, author of many things (including frightfully good stories about mushroom people) linked to my post below about pseudonyms. […]

  2. Bob says:

    Let’s try this again.

    Don’t forget John G. Hemry/Jack Campbell, who has been forced into this situation for precisely the reason you describe.

  3. […] But still, I had my doubts. Why would a publisher risk losing all the people who love Joyce’s books–his automatic audience? And I’ve seen way, way too many excellent midlist authors forced into the pseudonym thing because of the automated ordering…. […]

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