Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Editors Answer - #2

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Ava has some questions about the use of pen names.

Should an author who is using a pseudonym sign their query letter with both their real name and the pen name? (ie Jane Doe writing as Suzy Screamsalot)

What then is the protocol if one's work is accepted? Does the editor refer to the author using their pen name in correspondence or their real name?

Yes, your query letter or submission should indicate both real name and pen name. Please never provide only your pen name.

The editor is normally "talking" to the real you, and so would likely address you by your real name. But this can vary with each relationship. The author may prefer to be called by her pen name. Or if the author's real identity is a deep secret, both editor and author may prefer to use the pen name to prevent any slip of identity confidentiality.

A related issue: The publisher may ask you to use a different pen name than the one you originally listed, especially if you are not previously published under that pen name in this genre. Your pen name may conflict with an existing author at that publisher, or may be a name the publisher feels is ineffective or downright bad. It's amazing how many aspiring erotic romance authors pick ridiculous pen names that sound like a porn star or are just sickeningly "cutesy".

Do you have a question about the publishing process - submission through release and after - that you've always wanted to ask? Send it to, and we'll give you the benefit of our shared wisdom.

1 comment:

Barbara Elsborg said...

I wavered for a long while whether or not to use a pen name. In the end, I decided not to. I'm proud of what I write and didn't want to hide the fact that it was ME who'd finally been published. BUT - the decision was easier because my mother was dead. Sad but true. This was a woman who turned off the TV if a man took his shirt off. She wrote continually to the BBC to complain about indecency.

I think the other thing to remember about pen names is to pick something unique if you can - much easier to get to the top on Google searches and it will stick in the mind of readers. Maybe I'm lucky that there only seems to be one of me - Barbara Elsborg - but for goodness sakes - don't show my MIL how to use a computer!