Hello. My name is Bella Beechcroft. Well, it was a couple of weeks ago when I was at the National Association of Writers’ Group’s Festival of Writing. During the festival, they run a Mini-Tale competition, where delegates who enter have to tell a tale in exactly 100 words. Not 99 words. Nor 101 words. Exactly 100.
- To differentiate one genre of books from another to your readers. Again, when you’re well known for writing one particular genre, and you have an enlightened publishing team who are willing to consider something you’ve written in another genre, it may still be necessary to use a different name to tell your readers that your work is of a slightly different nature. Iain Banks wrote books under this name, but he also wrote Science Fiction books under the name of Iain M Banks. Not a huge name change, but enough for his readers to differentiate the genre of the book. The novelist Joanna Trollope also writes as Caroline Harvey. Madelaine Wickham had written several successful novels before she began writing the (very) different Shopoholic series of books, under the name of Sophie Kinsella.
- Sad to say, but some readers expect certain genres to be written by men, and others written by women. Men make better thriller writers whilst women are better writers of erotic fiction. Actually, that statement is complete trash, but if the general readership believes this to be true then some agents/publishers believe it’s better to have the right ‘name’ for the genre.
- To get more work. For non-fiction writers, pseudonyms aren’t as important, with many non-fiction writers writing about a variety of topics under their own name. However, there may be times when a different name can be useful. If you regularly work for an editor of one magazine, they may not take kindly to you selling similar work to a competing magazine … so a pseudonym can help get over this problem!
- Sometimes, editors become aware that a large portion of an issue is written by a handful of writers, and so they might encourage the use of pseudonyms to suggest to the readership that their bank of writers is actually bigger than it is! Some short story writers use more than one name, especially if they are prolific.
- Finally, a writer may use a pseudonym because they don’t want to be known as the writer. If you’re a six-feet nine-inch tall bloke, who plays rugby at the weekend with your mates, drinks fourteen pints in the after-match party and drives 44-tonne juggernauts during the week, you might not want your mates knowing that you write Mills and Boon romances.