Writing with a pseudonym is something you either think about constantly, or something you never think about. You worry if it will make your career harder; whether it comes into play if you aim for traditional publishing.
As soon as decide you want to write, it is something many have asked themselves:
Should I write with a pseudonym?
I can’t tell you what the best decision is for you, but I can take you down my path.
I can show you this path, because I write with a pseudonym. Jodie Moone is a pseudonym, a name I chose for my public life because I wanted to. Not because I was afraid.
Anyone in my life who knows me closely, knows this name. I’m not afraid of them knowing it, and it was never created to hide from them. That’s the thing, it has no impact on anyone else but me; which for many on the ‘anti-pseudonym’ camp don’t seem to understand.
None of this is helped when you venture down to find out if a pseudonym is for you, and you find post after post showing ‘how messy it is’. Which, depending on how you go about things, it can be. But also, it can be easy as long as you are honest.
Hearing (or, well reading) the various view points on why someone would make the decision to have a pseudonym can be both baffling and enriching. It may make you ask yourself a lot of deep questions you never really thought of. But, no matter how much you read, ultimately the decision needs to come from you.
And it has to be the why which tips your decision.
For me, it stemmed from writing fanfiction. While it was 90% a blissful experience, and 10% some of the most horrible moments of my life since primary/secondary school. I wrote fanfiction for three years. One thing I wished I’d done was protect the birth name I was given. I didn’t flaunt it, but I used it daily in ‘safe spaces’, feeling no wrong could be done.
Until someone took it too far.
They invaded my life, and it scared me, making walls I didn’t know I had come up tall, shielding me. Not because of the harm they could do to me, but how they stepped over the line and tried to speak to my husband.
I loved creating, I love writing, I love talking, but I don’t always love sharing every inch of myself. What special moments I have with my husband, are for him and I. Maybe my friends when we do something funny. But, that’s it. He also has his own career, and there is his family. Another thing I had to consider what my current day job in in healthcare, where the focus should be on those who need it.
Having a pseudonym doesn’t change much for me, as I use my given forename. For me, it allows me to show there’s a line, a wall. Obviously, I’m under no opinion it will remain a secret forever. However, indicating the difference from Moone to given-name, shows I want the separation. I’m asking for the opportunity to keep it that way.
My opinion is still mine, it doesn’t change because I wear a different name badge; my words are the exact same spoken as the day-to-day me as they are the person pressing the keys on this keyboard. I share my face, I share my location, but I don’t want to share the name I took for myself when I earned a swanky white-gold ring.
Sometimes, people may think they don’t know me. That’s okay because knowing my name, and reading my words, aren’t mutually exclusive.
You don’t suddenly enter my house, stroke my dog, or eat dinner with my husband and I, because you have read my work. And yes, that may make me cold. But, you see, it’s taken me a long time to accept myself, and taken me even longer to realise writing is what I want to do.
The people who need to know my name, know it. If you’re ever invited from the table of Jodie Moone to the real name I go by, go you. But, you get so much more than a name when you do; you become someone who sees all my edges and have become someone I trust. If you call at midnight, I’ll sleepily get out of bed and talk with you until you feel better.
Food for Thought?
Have you ever looked up your favourite actors? Do it.
A lot of actors, because of popularity of their names or simply not suiting them, have pseudonyms. This isn’t a thing just for authors or creatives, but it spreads out into many walks of life.
If they can do it, so can you.
As I’ve said, and will continue to say, you have to make the decision for yourself.
In the UK, work written under a pseudonym is still copyrighted to you when it is fixed in a readable format. (As long as it doesn’t infringe on other published work). You can add a copyright symbol and a written disclaimer if you want to. But, in the UK there is no need to register copyright.
There’s a fabulous website, here, by Richard McMunn who talks through some of the points that can help you legally. But overall, in the UK, pseudonym’s are legal.
It’s just a little bit of extra work if you want to cover yourself internationally, but isn’t that always the case?
Below, I’ve listed two benefits of writing under a pseudonym:
- Different genres
If you’ve published, or written for, you can remarket yourself. Or, if you’ve written something racy, you may wish to have a name not linked to that for say, a children’s book. Pseudonum’s give you the flexibility.
- Book Sales
If a previous name didn’t generate much sales, and you want to start again, pseudonym is a great option. It’s one many literary greats have used.
- Blank Social Media
Having a pseudonym means you have a blank social media canvas to market yourself on, which can be fantastic if you’ve had social media since you were a teen.
Obviously, while these are great reasons, the downsides are how open you wish to be.
The only drawbacks I can think of are when you’re getting your photo taken at events, even attending book events or writing weekends. It’s possible your secret, may not be kept one after that.
For me, I write under a pseudonym for myself. I do not mind attending, publicising, sharing my name and face. My reason for a pseudonym is because I have a whole other side of me that’s not writing. That’s a wife, a current full-time administrator for the NHS, and a daughter, sister and hopefully one day, a mother. I like the separation, but Jodie is as much me as I am her. She’s a name, and words on a page, but, regardless of anything else, she’s still me.
I’ve bene honest about it since the day I set out on this path, and that’s the important factor. Honesty.
The major issue people have with pseudonyms are the feelings of deception. But you can control that, removing it from the narrative by being honest from the get-go. Yes, some may find it confusing, but again, that’s on them and not on you. You cannot control the way others feel, only your own feelings.
So, if you’ve reached the end of this, somehow finding your way to my post after wondering if you should write with a pseudonym.
My advice is to do what makes you happy and comfortable. I can tell you how freeing it’s been for me, but that’s my life. My choice. It may not suit you.
If your dream is to see your name in the stars, then a pseudonym isn’t for you.
And, at the end of the day, it should be no one else’s opinion, even if a lot of people will have one.
People will always have their opinions, on everything. Which is fine. But that isn’t your opinions.
You are the one who has to live with your choice, not them.
You have to be okay with your decision, they don’t.
I’m happy with mine, I love that I get to be a Mrs. (Something) in the day, caring for people and their health; I love that later, I can then be Jodie Moone, the writer who works by night.
I’m happy with my choice, and you should be too, whatever you end up deciding.