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Monday, September 16, 2019

Secret Identities of Authors by @JoanReeves

It's going to be a great day!
Let's start the day by talking about popular authors and their secret real identities, none of which is really secret given the internet.

Most readers know that many authors write under pseudonyms. Writers do this for various reasons.

Category romance publishers like Harlequin and Silhouette required it. That way publishers owned the name, and it kept authors in their "stable" so to speak.

Why Pseudonyms

Other reasons for pseudonyms generally were for the following reasons:

1. Many times, traditional publishers made authors take pseudonyms if their previous sales under a different name weren't as good as the publisher wanted.

With a new name, a publisher could launch the author as "a new name in fiction" or something similar, even though the author in question may have written and published dozens of books.

2. If an author wanted to write in a different genre, the publisher often required her or him to publish in the other genre under a different name for marketing purposes.

The thinking was that a known romance author would alienate her readers if she published horror or mystery, or that those genre readers wouldn't give her a chance if she was known to be a romance author.

3. Sometimes, authors prefer to use a pseudonym to protect their privacy. Taking a pseudonym in this age where privacy and security are relevant concerns is certainly understandable, but often futile given just about any tidbit of information can be found online if someone is determined to find it.

4. Sometimes, authors who wrote fast couldn't get publishers to accept their work unless the "excess" was published under a pseudonym. That was back when there was a stigma attached to fast writing.

The general opinion was if you turned out work really fast then it probably wasn't very good.

Publishers didn't realize, or didn't care, that authors were trying to support themselves on their writing. More books meant more income and a better, more stable, cash flow.

5. Sometimes, authors just don't want to have to defend what they write to their neighbors, church friends, their kids' teachers, or even relatives.

Many times, a pseudonym is used for a short period of time and then abandoned. This happens because one name becomes predominantly successful so the others aren't used or publishing contracts expire, lines fold, etc. There are many reasons why names get abandoned.

Secret Identities Revealed

Readers may find themselves wondering what happened to some of their favorite authors like Billie Douglass or Owen West or any of the other popular genre fiction writers.

In actuality, Ms. Douglass is doing just fine living her writing life as Barbara Delinsky, and Mr. West is living quite well as Dean Koontz.

For your entertainment, and for you masters of trivia, here are some popular pseudonyms by well-known authors.

* Amanda Ashley is the fabulous Madeline Baker.

* Mystery novelist Jill Churchill is Janice Young Brooks.

* Candace Camp is Lisa Gregory, Kristin James, and Sharon Stephens.

* Janet Evanovich of Stephanie Plum fame wrote under Steffie Hall.

* Diana Palmer is Susan Kyle.

* Amanda Quick, Amanda Glass, Jayne Castle, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Bentley, and Stephanie James are all Jayne Anne Krentz.

* If you're a true Nora Roberts fan, then you should know that Nora (real name Eleanor Wilder) has written as J. D. Robb, Sarah Hardesty, and Roberts Smith.

* The aforementioned Dean Koontz wrote as David Axton, Brian Coffey, K. R. Dwyer, John Hill, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Own West, Aaron Wolfe, and, oh, yes, Leigh Nichols and Deanne Dwyer.

* William E. Butterworth III is, of course, W.E.B. Griffin, W.E. Butterworth, Webb Beech, Edmund O. Scholefield, Patrick Williams, Alex Baldwin, Walter Blake, James Douglas, Jack Dugan, John K. Dugin, and Blakely St. James as well as Eden Hughes and Allison Mitchell.

* If you think that's a lot of names and authorial identities to remember, take a look at Spur Award Winner Robert Vaughan who has written more than 250 books and used, I believe, 35 different names.

* Even Agatha Christie published under the pen names Mary Westmacott and Agatha Christie Mallowan.
In real life, Louis L'Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore so he edited his name and became a literary phenom.

So think about this. Maybe that new author you're reading is really just an old favorite in disguise.

As for me, I've written all my books under Joan Reeves. You can find all my books listed on my Amazon page.

However, I once wrote 3 newspaper columns with 2 of them under pseudonyms.

* * * * *

Joan ReevesKeeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. Joan lives happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house at the foot of the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch at night, look up at the star-studded sky, and listen to the coyotes howl.

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  1. Thanks for all the insight on writers and their pseudonyms. There were some I really didn't know. I've been a writer all my life and always used Judy Ann Davis or Judy A. Davis. LOL...if I wrote erotica, I'd get one, but I'm so horrendous at writing sex scenes, I'd bomb. What a fun, entertaining read! Thanks.

    1. *LOL* By the time I got my first book published, I wanted it under my name so all the people who kept asking, "did you ever publish that book you were thinking about writing," would know! Also, I guess I wanted ownership or acknowledgement of the time and effort I spent because it was so hard to break into publishing back then.

  2. Thank you for an interesting post. I didn't realize there were so many different reasons for pseudonyms.

    1. Actually, I forgot one of the reasons. Taking a pseudonym that sounded like the kind of person who would write that type of book. I have a couple of friends who took hip-sounding pseudonyms when they started writing young adult. Fictional example of that would be someone named Martha Wicks might choose the name of Marty Wix if she switched from inspirational romance to young adult.

  3. Hi Joan. I use a pseudonym because I wanted something original. Not way-out, but memorable. Not sure it's worked, but I've grown to like it. As a child, my sister and I made up Western plays. We were always dance hall girls who, in the end, were rescued by handsome cowboys. Part of the fun was using another name. Lol. "Lau-re-an" is 3 syllables and a form of my real name "Laurie." Unfortunately, most pronounce it "Laurene." The "Brooks" came from an attempt to get readers to visual something when they heard the word. Lol. Anyway, that was 10 years ago. I also picked a pseudonym to remain anonymous. And because it was fun to be able to make up my own name.

    1. Lau-re-an, I'll try to remember to think of your name as pronounced that way in the future. Thanks for sharing the backstory of your name. I must confess, I thought Laurean was just another spelling of Laureen. I'm glad you posted that.


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