Sunday, April 19, 2009

To Pseudonymize or Not to Pseudonymize

(I am aware that there is no such word as pseudonymize, but “To Choose a Pseudonym or Not to Choose a Pseudonym” doesn’t have the same ring.)

Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper. Hard guys with hard names. And what about Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Nicholas Cage, Clint Eastwood? More hard guys with hard names.

Is it any accident that some of the world’s best-selling authors are men with hard names? King. Would he ever have become King if he had a name like Shayne? Only if his first name was Mike. And don’t forget Koontz, Clancy, Cook.

I thought a lot about using a pseudonym, something hard like Cole Black that would immediately proclaim, “Here is an author with an edge.” But there would be problems with a pseudonym: cashing royalty checks; explaining to a publisher that I’m not hiding anything by using a fake name; being invited to the White House as Cole Black and only having identification for Pat Bertram. Ouch. Except for the last, they are simple problems after all. But then I got to wondering: if I did a book signing and people expected a man and were confronted with a woman, would they feel cheated?

In the end I decided to stick with my own name. It’s a good name for an author with enough hard consonants to sound authoritative. Besides, it has the whole androgynous “It’s Pat” thing going for it; I can be whoever I want.

And anyway, p’s and b’s and t’s and r’s didn’t hurt Brad Pitt any.


Cheryl Tardif said...

After reading this great post on successful names, I think I should change my name to...

Carol Kaye Cardif

Hard enough for ya? :-)

Pat Bertram said...

Actually, it would be a great name. Lots of hard c's.