- by Elaine Isaak
Many writers at one time or another adopt pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. Many long running series are written by multiple authors using the same name to make it easy for readers to find them, and lend a sense of continuity to the work. Other authors use different names to distinguish between different series they are writing—especially if they write for children as well as adults. A pseudonym can also fool the ordering computers of the chain bookstores into seeing a whole new writer, and giving the author a second career.
But the use of a ‘nym in today’s publishing climate produces whole new challenges. the burden of promoting a book has fallen ever more on the author’s shoulders. Fortunately, the promotional tactics of the modern era depend on the internet, the ultimate anonymizer, which provides all kinds of angles for building a name that don’t require personal appearances by the pseudonymous author.
The first place the internet helps is to search on your proposed ‘nym to see how often it shows up and for what purposes. Ideally, you can choose a name or variation that will enable you to own the associated .com, that isn’t in use by another author (even in another genre), and that won’t turn up hundreds of hits for unrelated—or worse yet, undesirable—connections.
Once you pounce on your .com, you need to start building a profile for the new you. This can be the fun part. If there are social media sites you enjoy and are familiar with, that’s a great place to start. New tools, like Hootsuite, give you the ability to manage multiple accounts at the same time, sending twitter updates to Facebook, and even using several twitter feeds for your various personae.
Chances are by the time you logged on and started your on-line promotions, your name already showed up on the internet, linked to prior publications, personal blogs or websites, jobs, etc. When you’re creating a pseudonym, you have the chance to start all that from scratch. Where will you find potential readers? Create profiles for the new you to interact before the book comes out. You can emphasize different aspects of your bio and interests to distinguish your alternate self without lying. Research sites or blogs related to your subject matter can be a great place to start, not to mention readers’ groups or sites that allow you to list your library and hook up with readers who have similar tastes. As in all promotions, the idea here is to be useful and friendly rather than simply showing up to market your stuff. If people see you as a participant in the community, they’ll get interested in your work as they get to know you. Or should I say, the other “you”. . .