Monday, July 02, 2012

To Pseudonym or Not

I’ve been reading and listening to more advice for writers lately. One thing that keeps coming up is that readers can be put off if they enjoy one particular book by an author, and then read another book by that author that is dramatically different in genre.  The usual suggestions for dealing with problem are for authors to 1) brand themselves by focusing just on one genre until they breakout, or 2) establish pseudonyms for themselves when they work in different genres.

Since I simply find it impossible to confine myself to one genre in writing when I enjoy reading so many different kinds of books, I’ve begun to give thought to the pseudonym idea.  I’ve decided that I will certainly keep Charles Allen Gramlich for my heroic fantasy work, and will probably use just Charles Gramlich for any nonfiction.  But what about westerns and horror?  Or what if I decide to write something urban fantasy?

Yesterday I came up with an idea for a western work and put down some ideas. I was thinking along with it about possible pseudonyms.  The first one I came up with that I liked was “Matt Boone,” but then I realized there is the rather famous, “Pat Boone.”  I think those are just too close. I tried Matt Sage, but was concerned about the two four-letter words together. Some of you who’ve read my work know I like the name “Boone,” so I jotted down Boone Holland as a possible pseudonym, and then Wade Savage occurred to me in the middle of the night but is maybe too much. I kind of like Wade, though, so was thinking Wade Bonner.

So what do you folks think?
Matt Boone
Wade Bonner
Matt Sage
Wade Savage
Boone Holland

Or do all of these suck?


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I for one enjoy reading an author writing in different genres under one name. I'm reading the author *because* I like what he or she writes and that's good enough for me. In fact, I have found it difficult to keep track of pseudonyms of a couple of my favourite writers, not knowing who they were. I believe a lot of writers are quite comfortable writing under an assumed name. Among the pseudonyms you mention, I like Wade Savage - he looks like he means business.

Chris said...

I'm inclined to Wade Boone or Wade Bonner. Wade Savage sounds too much like a character in a questionable novel.

Folks who get irritated at a writer because a new book is "outside of their genre" annoy the hell out of me. I can't understand folks who only read one type of book. Sure, there are genres I typically avoid, but my reading is all over the map. If you wrote a paranormal romance, I'd read it, for example, even if I wouldn't necessarily read one by anyone else that I wasn't already familiar with.

Rick said...

I'd say stick with your own name, friend. Edgar Rice Burroughs never let it hold him back and neither should you.

Tom Doolan said...

I'm kind of with Rick on this one. I can understand the consideration of a pseudonym (I've considered it many times for the same reasons you state). But, in the end, most authors "come out" to the alter-ego's fans anyways. Stephen King dedicated "The Dark Half" to Richard Bachman "without whom this novel wouldn't have been possible."

However, all of those names would make good character names, so waste not want not!

Deka Black said...

Ifg you really want to use a pseudonym... i think Matt P. Savage would be better. The P, would stand for "pseudonym".

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I've read (and been personally told) that changing names for different genre's is a marketing must.

But I'm not completely sold on it in this day and age. There was a time when women still went with initials so as not to put off readers by their very gender. I don't think that is particularly relevant anymore.

I think about what I like to read and it runs almost the whole gamut and some of my favorites did the same (even if the societys focus is on one thing they wrote, REH = heroic fantasy, Louis Lamour = westerns, etc etc) They still did a wide swath under that name.

So I think I'll stick to one name for myself. Course if the day comes that it is a marketable thing that I need to have a pen name for a project I'd do it.

The thought actually came up in the very beginning of my career simply because of how many David West's there are.

But when it comes to a single name for westerns, I like Wade Bonner. Sounds very cowboy.

James Reasoner said...

I'd lean toward using your own name (says the man who's written under 40 different pseudonyms). But of the ones you list, I like Boone Holland and Matt Sage. Wade Bonner sounds too familiar to me, like it might be the name of a character in a movie or something. But I'm too lazy to go and look it up.

Adventuresfantastic said...

I kind of like Wade Savage and Boone Holland, but I think all of the names you listed would be good character names.

Here's an idea. How about writing a novel in a new genre under a collaborative pseudonym? For example Thundering Thighs by Charles Gramlich and Sharon Sharalike. That's a bit of a silly example, but I think you see what I mean. That way your loyal readers will see your name on it and read it for that reason, but they will also know it is something in a different vein. Later, if that work is successful and takes off, you could drop either the pseudonym or your real name if you chose to write more in that genre or series. I know there was at least one novel that had both Ed McBain and Evan Hunter on the byline. Anyway, just a thought.

laughingwolf said...

i'm with rick and tom... if some yahoos get annoyed, so be it

can't please everyone....

Richard Prosch said...

I'd stick with your own name. But Boone Holland sounds good. Matt Sage didn't work for me because it sounded like "Pat Sajak."

Charles Gramlich said...

Prashant, I don't mind it either, although I like it when the writer does indicate what genre the story is in. I try to do that with my stuff.

Chris, If I did use a pseudonym I would post clearly on the blog and facebook that it was my piece. But folks who don't know me might get more name recognition with the single pseudonym for a genre.

Rick, I still have some thinking to do. It might be an experiment I'd try to just to see what happens.

Tom, oh they won't get wasted for sure!

Deka, that's a cool idea. Never thought of that.

David J., I am at least lucky that there aren't any other Charles gramlichs out there writing. Not many out there period. I know there was a western movie that had "bonner" in the title, but not Wade bonner.

James, that's interesting. I'm wondering why, though. What do you know that I don't? Well, a lot I imagine, but about this topic.

Keith, whatever I didn't use as a pseudi would be a character name for sure. Actually, I've used Boone Holland as a character name before.

Laughingwolf, looks like the sentiment is running in that direction.

Richard Prosch, lol. If I could make Pat Sajak's money!

Deka Black said...

Thanks charles ^^

the walking man said...

Matt Holland works for me in the Western arena.

T. Manchester for the horror.

We have a mutual friend that uses a pseudonym and it seems to be working out well for them.

But then I have read a bunch of your work across all genres and to be honest maybe because I feel like I know you, it didn't bother me. I read for the story not the name ahead of it.

You know where to send the urban fantasy to.

Angie said...

I agree that Matt Sage is a little too abrupt. The others all sound like hero characters in Westerns, which means whichever one you like would probably fit just fine. :)


Cloudia said...

Your name stands for something in my opinion, and I see others here share that view. In a cluttered world, don't divide your forces. . . of course, you are just the dynamo who could (some might argue already "does") succeed in several spaces. . . . Will you let us know what you decide, or keep it secret and fabricate a separate persona?

Have a GREAT Week!

Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

Ty said...

Matt Boone is probably my favorite, but for some reason it sounds to my ear like it belongs on the cover of a thriller novel. "Matthew Boone" occurred to me, but that sounds a little overly literary.

For a pen name for Westerns, would gun names be too obvious? Examples: Matt Remington, Jim Winchester, etc.

Charles Gramlich said...

Deka, :)

Mark, I'm glad that there are some folks who like my work and not just in one genre. Matt Holland is pretty cool.

Angie, I actually put Wade Bonner into a story tonight so probably Boone Holland will be my choice

Cloudia, I will let everyone know if I do it, because otherwise I'd probably not sell 'any' copies. :)

Ty, I also tried Matthew Sage and liked that a little better. I didn't think of gun names. Will have to give that some thoguht.

BernardL said...

I think that advice has been propagated by agents and publishers. When you work for years building up name recognition, I don't think it's wise to throw it away because some unknown entity might be offended by a writing genre change. I'm with you. I'll write anything I feel like writing, and have. With the incredible spike in new novels out there, thanks to the ease of self-publishing, name recognition is a hard earned marketing tool.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, it probably is a greater issue now that there are so many names out there. I have trouble remembering even all the books I get given to me and the names of their authors. good point.

Barrie said...

Am I in the minority, then? I'm not at all put off by a writer who's all over the map.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, I think the difference is between just readers and "reader/writers." Reader\writers like a bit of everything oftentimes, but those who "read" only are more likely to read in just one or two genres primarily. There are exceptions, of course.

Golden Eagle said...

I'm also inclined to say to use the name you have been using--though some authors obviously do well under a pseudonym.

I think Wade Bonner is a good name.

Erik Donald France said...

Wade Bonner and Boone Holland.

I dig 'em.

I'm all for multiple pseudonyms. It's all good ~!

G. B. Miller said...

Suckage is in the eye of the beholder. :D

Using a pen name is always a tricky thing. You don't want to come up with one that people might think it would be tacky or dopey.

Prime example would be my very early blog persona that I wanted to eventually write under. After a year or so, it really didn't work for me 'cause people didn't take me serious.

Perhaps you should go the route of using part of your real name as a pen name. I find it works for me.

While I'm very proud of my real name and of the fact that I got a couple of stories published under my real name, it just feels too formal to use as an every day writer's nom de plume.

Erik Donald France said...

p.s. Louis L'Amour was also Sam Brant, Tex Burns, Jim Mayo, etc.

John Lee Hooker recorded was also as John Lee Booker, John Lee Cooker, Delta John, Texas Slim etc.

"Plenty good company." ~~ Iron Eyes Cody.

Ron Scheer said...

Probably too late to pitch in here, but pseudonyms often strike me as sounding phony.

eric1313 said...

How about Wade Kilpatrick Boone? You get to keep a good fake name and deny the nefarious impostor Pat Boone all in one nifty little package.

Charles Gramlich said...

Golden Eagle, I may try it as an experiment anyway. I can always later go back and reissue the books under my own name.

Eric, I decided to use Wade Bonner as a character name. I like it quite a lot. Most of the writers of L'Amour's era wrote so much they had to use pseudonyms to keep from having fifty things competing.

G.B., I've thoguht about some variation on my name, but neither gramlich nor charles seem to lend themselves to this well.

Ron Scheer, the often do. Like Max Brand. But it didn't hurt his sales it seems.

Eric1313, I like that, Wade Kilpatrick Boone. Has a nice ring.

ivan said...

I kinda like the monicker of Cy Strange, though he is a real person who used to work for our CBC

ivan said...

Oh damn it all. I just came across the niftiest byline.

Seymuor S. Elegant.

But, unfortunately, he too was a real person.

But gee. You'd expect a really classy author with a name like that. :)

jodi said...

Charles, personally I am always disappointed when I learn of a pseudo. I prefer to understand the variety in the writers talent. However, I like Matt Boone. With the two t's and the two o's it looks balanced in print. Good Luck with this hard decision!

Charles Gramlich said...

Ivan, true names stranger than fiction. I've always wanted to use the name King Relic, but I knew the guy in college.

Jodi, it would probably be an experiment if nothing else. Thanks.

Oscar Case said...

What about just Wade? Besides, that's my grandson's name.

Travis Cody said...

I think any of the names are OK. The important thing is what you feel most comfortable putting on the cover of your story. But doesn't it take a lot more work to market under a different name?

Personally, I don't mind when a writer switches genre. If the characters, plot, setting, and writing are good, I'm OK if it's not what I would normally expect from a writer I know in another genre.

Shauna Roberts said...

I like Wade Bonner best.

But personally, I think for someone with as strong and appealing a style as yours, it's to your benefit to stick with one name. No matter what the genre, I know I'll like a Charles Gramlich story or book. (I read in lots of genres, though, and the same may not hold true for people who only read horror or only read Westerns.)

Even though I've published in nonfiction for laypeople, nonfiction for doctors and scientists, and fiction in the genres of romance, sf, fantasy, horror, and historical fiction, I use only two names. My nonfiction author name is "Shauna S. Roberts" and my fiction author name is "Shauna Roberts."

Even having only two names, and those very similar, has been a pain. I need different business cards for each name, I've had trouble getting Goodreads to put all my books under one author profile (they want to treat my two names as two authors), and although I have only one business bank account, I probably should have one for each name.

Besides, not using your real name (or small variations of your real name) means your fans, friends, and family could easily miss out on some of your books. You want people who want to buy your stuff to be aware of all of it.

My 2 cents.

Charles Gramlich said...

Oscar, I like that name a lot. Have decided to use it as a character name, though.

Travis Cody, the experts seem to think it matters but I just don't know for sure. So it might be worth an experiment to see what happens.

Shauna, I would make sure that everyone I know knows a book published under a pseudonym would be my book. But you're right, some friends and colleagues might miss such a book.

RK Sterling said...

Charles, in my humble opinion, I'd suggest keeping your real name because you already have a following who knows you write in different genres. I'd only use a pseudonym if you were branching WAY out - say, erotic romance or something.

Otherwise, I already associate you with horror, westerns, and fantasy - and don't see an issue there.

If you pick up new readers who like your work in one genre, they will look for other books by you in that genre and see you write in a few different ones. I think they'd be more likely to not only buy more of your books in the first genre they picked, but also to try out a few of your others just to see if they liked them as well.

That's what I've done with your books and others.

Charles Gramlich said...

Kate, thankee. You make many good points. I'm still giving the whole issue thought, and have posted on it before. I will probably end up making a spur of the moment decision that has been debated ad nauseum in my head.