Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Why Authors Use Pseudonyms: Part 4

Here’s part 4, and our last installment of, Why Authors Use Pseudonyms. I hope you enjoy.

4. One of the major reasons why writers write under pseudonyms is because the publisher wants it and they are paying for the writer’s work. For example, publishers of western series books tend to use a “house name” for all books in a particular series, even though the individual volumes may be written by various authors. Using the house name ensures a certain uniformity to the series that makes it easy for fans of the series to find the next volume, perhaps written by a different author. This is the primary reason why I’ve written under pseudonyms. This often aids the author greatly in sales as well. For example, say there’s a house name like “Jake Logan,” which there is. The first three are written by Joe Smith and sell well, and then the fourth is written by Bob Jones. Changing the name in mid series would cause all kinds of havoc in the way the books were shelved or listed, and create confusion for the readers.

Some publishers insist that the individual authors of books within a series do not reveal that “they” wrote any one particular book, although often they ease up on this constraint as time progresses. I know quite a few authors who have written, for example, in various western series such as “The Trailsman,” which is published under the name Jon Sharp, or “Longarm,” which is published as by Tabor Evans. In many cases these authors were not to reveal their particular involvement at the time of writing, though that constraint has since been eased and many of them will now reveal which particular books they wrote. This is great for me because I tend to collect certain writers’ works more than I care about getting every volume of the Longarm (well into the 400s for individual volumes) or Trailsman series (past 300 volumes).  

Most of the pseudonymous books I’ve written have been for Wolfpack Publishing under the house name of A. W. Hart. For example, I wrote book seven of their Avenging Angels series (The Wine of Violence), and book 3 of their Legend of the Black Rose series (Vengeance of the Black Rose.) Although these were published under the name A. W. Hart to represent a certain kind of action-adventure tale, I was credited as author in the “About the Author” section at the end of the book. I certainly appreciate Wolfpack for doing that, and I’m certain these books sold more under the Hart name than they ever would have under my name because other excellent writers coming along before me had already established the quality of the A. W. Hart Brand.

The “House Name” concept is actually very widespread in publishing, much more than most readers realize. Not only is it used on Western series, but often on SF and Fantasy series as well, such as The “Richard Blade” series, the “Casca” series, the “Traveler” series, and many more. In fact, I could easily do a lengthy series of blog posts on such series, but for now I’m done with Pseudonyms. Thank you very much for reading.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

One of my other author buddies also wrote for a mystery series like that. It's good experience and a notch in an author's career - once they can tell others.

Anonymous said...

Charles Here: Alex, I've really enjoyed it. It feels like a continuity with other authors.

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