The original purpose of pseudonyms was to allow women to write in a man’s world. In the 1700 and 1800s men were of a mind that women could only produce emotional memoirs successfully and men wrote the serious literary work. Like Charlotte Bronte writing as Currer Bell, a name that could have been male or female, but allowed her to publish more readily.
I don’t want this piece to come across as author bashing. I am curious on what your thoughts about pseudonyms today are. Do you think their use is outdated? Are the purposes different? Do they have to do more with confidentiality and protection?
I have a girlfriend who writes erotica under a pseudonym. I don’t blame her. People could easily stalk her in our high tech society. Serial Killers could single her out. (Okay, maybe I watch too much Criminal Minds.)
I wrote Red Clay and Roses using only my initials and last name. Originally I did that for anonymity. It was my first work and I didn’t want to embarrass myself if it turned out that it was crap. When others started reading it and telling me to publish it, I felt better about it, but still felt that going public like that would open a whole new world and I was not sure I, Susan Koone Nicholls, was ready for that and I wondered if my family was ready, being such a revealing factual based story. I think they are okay with it now, but I have not yet submitted to my hometown paper. That might change things.
I have a murder mystery in progress. I am very seriously considering writing under a pseudonym because I believe that genre is better accepted as a male dominated genre. Then I think about Faye Kellerman, Sue Grafton, Karin Slaughter, and other female mystery, thriller, crime novelists who have become quite successful in their own right without any use of male pseudonyms, just good writing. For marketing purposes it might be better to write under an already established platform as S. K. Nicholls. After all, not all of us can be J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith and unmask when reviews are great but sales are soggy. I think she did a great thing to write under a pseudonym anonymously in that she is already famous. Do you think she would have unmasked had her work received the same reviews as “The Casual Vacancy”?