By now, I am sure you heard that J.K. Rowling published a crime thriller titled The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The secret leaked and now the book is flying off the shelves in bookstores. It is the #1 selling book on Amazon with sales increasing 500,000%.
Rowling released The Casual Vacancy last year under her name. The book was a commercial success, but received mixed critical reviews. I am sure that contributed to her decision to release under a different name. In a statement, Rowling said she enjoyed publishing under the pseudonym and watching the unbiased reviews come in.
For someone like Rowling, who is set for life financially, but loves writing, I understand writing under a pseudonym. She is writing because she loves doing it. She doesn't need the hoopla or biased critics attacking her new attempts. However, the majority of writers aren't J.K. Rowling. We aren't set for life financially or international bestsellers. So, why use a pseudonym?
The first reason is privacy. For many writers, they want a separation between their personal lives and writing careers. A pseudonym allows for that privacy.
Another reason is you are the wrong gender for your genre. Often, female crime and thriller writers will use a male pseudonym. Or a male romance writer use a female pseudonym. From what I have heard and read in the writing community, this reason is fading away. Gender isn't as big of a deal as it once was in the writing world (and really everything). Even so, writers still use pseudonyms for gender reasons.
Finally, some writers use pseudonyms to write in different genres. If they write dark horror and children's books, they probably won't use the same name. You don't want a fan of your children's books to stumble upon one of your dark horror books and write you off.
Personally, I have no desire to use a pseudonym. I need as much exposure as I can get for all my writing and I think using a pseudonym at this point in my career will only hurt me. But, maybe someday, I will have a reason to use a pseudonym. What an exciting prospect!
What are your thoughts on pseudonyms? How do you feel about Rowling using one?
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