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Autumn
09-20-2016, 02:58 AM
Apologies if this is the wrong thread, but my manuscript is finally complete and the edits are done. I'm going to begin the querying process soon, and I know I need to start thinking about the pseudonym I want to write under (in terms of platform, I'd like to get something up and running in case an agent tries to Google me).

Because I already work as an editor and freelance writer, I'd like to keep my work separate by using my first name and middle name as a pseudonym. The only problem is that my middle name is Fae and I'm writing in the fantasy genre.

Is this something that I should take into consideration since fae is so widely used in this particular book genre? Or is it something I shouldn't worry about?

Aggy B.
09-20-2016, 04:02 AM
It might strike folks as cutesy, especially for a fantasy author. I would query under your full name (that's actually a good idea regardless because an agent will need your real/legal name anyway), and then discuss the idea of pen names with anyone who makes an offer.

You can also query as "Real Name writing as Whatever Fae" and see what the response is. Best of luck!

Roxxsmom
09-20-2016, 04:24 AM
Most people use their first and last names, not usually their middle ones, in business correspondences. So I don't think you'd be expected to put your middle name on your manuscript or query.

And this is rather peripheral to the OP, but I'm curious how writers should approach this if they want to hide their gender or if they are trying to reinvent their career after having some novels published that didn't sell well under a previous name. I know this was a shock for me to learn, but there are some writers who have changed their pen name because it's sometimes better to be thought of as an unpublished nobody than as a writer whose previous published work didn't sell.

So how does one go about querying when one's full name is a giveaway of their gender or identity as a published but unsuccessful writer, but using a nick name or pen name might come off as duplicitous. Do they use their initials in the query letters? I assume there's a point where their agent and or editor knows the truth, at least, but during the initial stages of querying, wouldn't it be beneficial in some genres or subgenres for the agent or editor not to have the identity of the writer called to their attention because of subconscious bias?

I've heard of some writers claiming they've gotten different results when querying with a woman's versus a man's (or gender neutral) name. This implies that the writers didn't use their real name while querying. And how does this fit in with some agents sometimes wanting to see if a potential client has an internet presence already? Especially if they later suggest that the writer use a pen name (which would possibly mean creating a new internet identity). And what if the writer's internet presence is tied up with being a published but unsuccessful author, or being an author in a genre that is so different it might actually be a turn off to readers in the genre they're currently querying?

Cobalt Jade
09-20-2016, 05:08 AM
I know this was a shock for me to learn, but there are some writers who have changed their pen name because it's sometimes better to be thought of as an unpublished nobody than as a writer whose previous published work didn't sell.

Or for other reasons... James Frey (Pitticus Lore of I Am Number Four fame)... *cough*

themindstream
09-20-2016, 05:13 AM
Now I'm curious too. I didn't know until recently that using initials could be a gender related thing. I have a gender-neutral first name but in my head and in some bylines I've used initials because I thought it sounded more grown-up and 'writerly'.

Aggy B.
09-20-2016, 06:15 AM
I've heard folks say that women using their initials instead of a given name is a dead giveaway. Which is little silly because there are male authors that use their initials as well and the point is to get subvert the bias that sees a feminine name and thinks "That book is for women."

I write as A.G. Carpenter, and when I was querying I signed my emails as "A.G. Carpenter" but I was using an email address that had my full name. I had someone tell me once my real name was "too sweet" for zombie fiction. (This was part of a critique on a short story I'd written.) You can go around and around about whether or not to go gender-neutral or gender-inspecific, but there is no good answer. The biggest question for me was what was I comfortable with. I did have an author last year refer to me as "A.G." when addressing me. (Which made another friend of our laugh, because he always calls me by my given name.)

I think we are getting closer to the point where it won't matter, but I don't think we are there yet.

ETA: Some folks will use multiple names to either separate genres or because one set of work is deemed less reputable than others. Ellis Peters was the pen name of Edith Pargeter. She wrote Historical Fiction under her real name, and the Brother Cadfael mysteries under the pen name. David Coe writes Historical Fantasy as D.B. Jackson (but makes no intense effort to hide the fact they are the same person), though I think that was more an issue of brand separation than anything else.

Shivari
09-20-2016, 02:27 PM
I don't think it really matters that your pseudonym surname would be 'Fae'. It is, after all, your actual name. It has a nice ring, and you can be glad your middle name isn't 'troll' or 'dragonrider'.

I wouldn't worry about it.

Brightdreamer
09-20-2016, 09:13 PM
I don't think it really matters that your pseudonym surname would be 'Fae'. It is, after all, your actual name. It has a nice ring, and you can be glad your middle name isn't 'troll' or 'dragonrider'.

I wouldn't worry about it.

I, for one, would've loved a cool middle name like Dragonrider... (Mom was going for something "different" with both first and middle names. Not that I hate them, but they're nowhere near as awesome as Dragonrider.) ;)

As has been mentioned upthread, this is the kind of thing you might consider taking up with your agent. Or try initials. Or just use "Fae" if it works.

Good luck!

Earthling
09-20-2016, 09:24 PM
I think Fae probably would make me raise an eyebrow for a fantasy author, even though I think it's a lovely name.

What about a slight change to make it Mae?

ironmikezero
09-20-2016, 09:51 PM
Use your true name with agents & publishers; it'll be required when you get to the contract stage. Use a pseudonym for everything else (communications with fans, etc.) if that's within your comfort zone.

I find using initials in a pseudonym works for me, although it did sort of backfire once.

I was one of a number of guests invited to speak to a particular group (I was initially unaware that it was to be a live podcast as well). My arrival was a bit of a shock--they had assumed all the guest speakers were female as that was an inherent aspect of the event's overall theme. Chagrined yet gracious, the hostess upheld the invitation. However, I was compelled to decline as the possibility of a live podcast presented a potential security clearance problem for me.

I still use initials in my pseudonym; but I'm far more circumspect in accepting any speaking invitations.

Shivari
09-20-2016, 10:51 PM
I, for one, would've loved a cool middle name like Dragonrider...

But nobody would believe it was your true name. I suspect many would write you down as pretentious - or as one wizard short of a conclave :-)