what’s a pen name got to do with it?


This is a cross post from Wave’s site.
If you have an urge to comment, feel free to do so in either place.


I read with great interest the post that Alexi Silversmith did the other day on the topic of pen names used by authors of m/m romance and erotica as well as the comments it generated.

Yet, one thing kept on going around and around in my head – so much so that I begged Wave to let me do this follow up post – and this was the question ‘do readers actually give a toss about pen names?’

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not deliberately being dismissive about why authors choose or choose not to use pen names because there are many very valid reasons as to why they would or wouldn’t. However, whilst reading the comments on Alexi’s post, I kept asking myself ‘do I really care about who the person is behind the pen name?’

Erm. No offense meant. 😀 Hey, I’m not a hypocrite! I only use part of my RL name myself because of the existing online presence I have associated with the EDJ.

Still, this was me pondering:

Do I care if it’s a girl or boy author writing the m/m romance and erotica? Nope.

Do I care if it’s a pen name? Umm, why??? I pretty much assume most of them are anyways.

Do I care if it’s a girl/boy with a boy/girl author name? I’d probably be O_o, but, as long as their writing doesn’t suck and they’re not a total prat about it, it’s none of my business.

In fact, there was only one real instance I could think of where I’d be pretty pissed off about the use of a pen name. This would be when an author has deliberately started to use a pseud so as to avoid the shit storm associated with their last/other author name. To me, especially if that situation was the author’s own damned fault, this borders on the unethical.

But maybe I’m the only reader who is this laid back about the whole issue? *shrugs* Could be.

So what about you? Have you actually stopped mid-purchase to say ‘oh, I’m not buying that m/m book because that’s obviously a pseud’? As a reader, do you actually give a toss about an author using a pen name?

Oh, and keep it civil please. No mentioning names or being rude. I am WAY nastier than Alexi and Wave and will hold no punches in return. Just warning you.


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About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
This entry was posted in authors, guest blogging, serious randomness, Wave. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to what’s a pen name got to do with it?

  1. lbgregg says:

    Could give a toss. Seriously. It seems far more important to writers than to readers. I could give a fig what JR Ward's real name is or anything else–just put V and B in bed together FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WOMAN.

    LB

  2. lisabea says:

    Quick aside–I meant to log in under my other name. My hitting the morning blogs name. But what's in a name, really?

    *g*

    Do you find it offensive when writers comment twice under different identities on the same blog post? Because I like to blog as lisabea, and I think of myself as lisabea, but as an author? I am LB.

    LB/lisabea/LBea/Hey-lady-the-line-starts-back-there

  3. Chris says:

    Heh, reading LB's comments… are multiple-personality disorders suddenly a helpful adaptation?

  4. lbgregg says:

    I started as Lisabea–so cute with the batman/robin. Little blogger girl. ManLoveMonday FTW. I had no idea I'd write–none (damn you Josh Lanyon). And when I was asked for a pen name, and my friends voted– I became LB.

    Of course TPig started the LBea thing…

    And then there's the mom/wife gig. That's separate (but equal!).

    Plus the fandom thing…that was totally accidental!! I had to explain myself a few times at Gays Of Our Lives –although Dennis G had no problem remembering me. Funny.

    I still look around and ask–how the frick did this get so out of hand? I mean other than my obvious ADD.

  5. Matthew says:

    Kris, you and nasty? No way!
    Many m/m female authors tend to choose neutral or misleading pen name – or at least they used to, now it seems everyone understands most of m/m writers AND readers are women and nobody gives a damn.
    However, I don't like when an author chooses a pen name of the opposite sex.

  6. Lori says:

    Nope, don't care at all. Although it does bother me when an author has 3 pseudonyms. Really, why for craps sake?

  7. Mariana says:

    I don't really care. It seems to be a discussion that's been around since I started reading MM, but it was never anything I cared about. It sounds cliche, but if the writing is good what does the authors name have anything to do with it?

  8. Kris says:

    LB/Lisabea/LBea/Whoever the hell you are:

    “Do you find it offensive when writers comment twice under different identities on the same blog post?”

    Yes.

    PS – You know why I love you because out of nowhere you can bring up V and B and how they should have ended up together. That's a serious skill right there.

    PSS – “I still look around and ask–how the frick did this get so out of hand? I mean other than my obvious ADD.”

    You know that this counts as encouraging me to develop different blogger profiles to fit my mood, right.

    PPS – “… although Dennis G had no problem remembering me…”

    STOP BRAGGING!!

  9. Kris says:

    Chris: “… are multiple-personality disorders suddenly a helpful adaptation… “

    I'd say that's fairly obvious.

    Matthew: “Kris, you and nasty? No way!”

    Thank you, sweetie. It's good to be loved.

    My gut feel was that nobody really gave a damn either. I think the culture/market associated with m/m romance and erotica has changed too much for that.

    “However, I don't like when an author chooses a pen name of the opposite sex.”

    I say stick with ambiguity. Less likely to piss people off.

  10. I could care less if an author uses multiple names, but I DO look for male authors in the generic romance genre just because they are the minority.

    I can understand from the author's point of view if they don't want to come out to their family about their erotic stories though…

    Personally, I have trouble keeping track of all my names and who knows them!

  11. Kris says:

    Lori: I can understand multiple pseuds for different genres, especially if they are as divergent as young adult and erotica and romance. Multiples for the same genre though, erm, no. That's something I don't get.

    Mariana: “It seems to be a discussion that's been around since I started reading MM…”

    Word. It's also one of the reasons why I wanted to do a post asking if readers actually gave a toss about the issue of pen names. The answer has generally been a resounding no unless misrepresentation is involved in some way.

  12. Kris says:

    Miranda: “I DO look for male authors in the generic romance genre just because they are the minority”

    I think I notice them more for those reasons, but not necessarily look specifically for them… at least I don't think I do.

    Privacy is a big issue and an excellent one when it comes to using a pseud, especially in a world where it seems so easy to find someone particularly online.

    “Personally, I have trouble keeping track of all my names and who knows them!”

    LOL. You have multiple personality disorder too?? 😉

  13. Nastassia says:

    I don't really care if the author has a pen name,if I'm buying a book it is whether or not I want to read the book ,it has nothing to do with whether the author has a pen name or not.

  14. Well, if you are a writer of say hot Lesbian Romance and go on to published sweet young adult, you may need a different pen name for both.

    LOL at LB!! Word.

    ps… I also channel a demon sheep with big balls in my spare time, so what does that make me?

  15. Kris says:

    Nastassia: “… if I'm buying a book it is whether or not I want to read the book… “

    Yep. This is something I'm doing more and more. For eg, although there are a number of authors I say I auto-buy, I do actually make purchases based on blurbs and excerpts and what I will like.

  16. Matthew says:

    @SVZ: “I DO look for male authors”
    It's been my experience female authors usually get “OK” or “good” rating. Male authors go for “crap” or “great”. In my m/m bookshelf, I gave only 15 five-stars rating, 9 of them were male authors. The lowest possible score was for 6 books, 5 of them from male authors.

  17. Kris says:

    Katiebabs chook: “Well, if you are a writer of say hot Lesbian Romance and go on to published sweet young adult, you may need a different pen name for both.”

    Probably a good idea.

    “I also channel a demon sheep with big balls in my spare time, so what does that make me?”

    Crazy, but we love you anyway. 🙂

  18. Chris says:

    KB: Heh, my cats have email addresses and reply to comments addressed to them… AND Mayhem has received email from Feliks and Boris, so….

  19. Jenre says:

    I'm pretty much like everyone else who has commented. I don't really care what the author is called or whether the author is male or female. I judge a book on the quality of its writing and that is all.

    I think the only times a pen name has bothered me is when I've been led to look foolish because of it. For example when I've referred to an author as 'he' in a review and then someone has pointed out that the male first name is actually a female author under a pseudonym, or when I've discovered that an author is actually a collaboration. That sort of thing leaves me with a red face and a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

  20. Lily says:

    I really don't care one way or the other. As long as the writing is good I'm happy. Although I don't see a reason for multiple pen names in the same genre. That I do find a bit strange.

  21. K. Z. Snow says:

    I don't give a rip, unless some significant, intentional deceit is involved. The whole issue is very near the bottom of things I think about.

    “Stripper” names do make me snerk, though. Never could figure out why writers choose them.

  22. I also couldn't give a toss as well – I also agree with Jenre about writing up a review with a “he” only to find out that he is a “she”…

    That said – Was this ever an issue before the M/M bubble went global or where authors wanted to get into the industry some were encouraged to use Letters..

    Write well, be courteous and let us (the readers) know what you are doing with your work and I dont care if you call yourself The Boogeyman.

    E.H>

  23. Everyone thinks my name is a pseudonym, so I just run with it. Every convention, every SCA event, I get told “no, your real name.” Then I lay my driver's license on them.

    I really don't care if someone is using a pen name or initials or whatever.

    On the other hand, I can understand multiple pseuds. I write romance and horror as Angelia Sparrow. I write religious books under another name. If I decided to write non-religious YA, I'd take a third. If I went into thriller and mystery, I'd dust off Michael Raleigh and put him on the cover. It's a genre thing.

  24. I don't care what name an author uses as long as I can pronounce it. Do I care if author/online person uses it for bashing, yes I do. Do I care if an author is male or female. Not really no.

    I can understand some of the issues in regards to pen names for m/m. But honestly, as long as I can easily type said author's name into my kindle and hit buy, I just really don't give two poops.

  25. JenB says:

    I can't think of many authors who don't use pen names.

    On authors adopting pen names of the opposite gender–I don't love it, but I get it. I buy tons of m/m romances by female authors, but I'm hesitant to buy m/f or f/f romances by male authors. Yes, I know it's a double standard. And no, I'm not working all that hard to get past it.

    What I don't care for is the elaborate fake opposite-gender personas. In the days of author privacy (and often seclusion), it didn't make much of a difference. But I do feel that nowadays, when authors do their own promo and interact all day with fans, that the fans can end up feeling…tricked. When a male reader feels he's bonded with a male author (or female reader w/female author) and then finds out he's been corresponding with a woman, for months…I totally get how that could be a negative experience. It's just human nature.

    I'm really curious to find out which naughty authors have changed names to separate themselves from scandal. That's very interesting. Not sure how I feel about it.

    But after alllllll that is said…pen names don't make much of a difference in my book purchasing habits. They can, however, make a difference to my perception.

  26. Kris says:

    Chris: It was only Boris. Damn cat.

    Jenre: “I think the only times a pen name has bothered me is when I've been led to look foolish because of it.”

    Wave talked about this scenario too and I can see how it would be totally disconcerting. I'm adding it straight away to my reasons for why I don't like to do reviews. 🙂

    Lily: “Although I don't see a reason for multiple pen names in the same genre. That I do find a bit strange.”

    General consensus agrees. I think there's a feeling that there must be something tricksy going on behind it. Not a comfortable feeling for a reader to have, especially when they've just handed over $$.

  27. Kris says:

    KZ: “I don't give a rip, unless some significant, intentional deceit is involved.”

    Yup. That's pretty much me too.

    I tried to get Wave to do a poll about weir porn names, but you thinks that people hate her enough already. What kind of an excuse is that I ask you.

    EH: “Was this ever an issue before the M/M bubble went global or where authors wanted to get into the industry some were encouraged to use Letters.”

    Good question. I think it was an issue, but less of a public one – oh, the internet! – because there are some authors who were specifically asked to take male or ambiguous pen names because of the market was directed at gay men, thus lending a legitimacy to it.

    “Write well, be courteous and let us (the readers) know what you are doing with your work and I dont care if you call yourself The Boogeyman.”

    An author called Boogeyman who writes m/m erotica. That would be interesting. 🙂

    Angelia: “Every convention, every SCA event, I get told “no, your real name.” Then I lay my driver's license on them.”

    *snort*

    As I said, I'm totally up with multiple pseuds for different genres, especially when those genres are so different from each other. If I found out that you were writing under multiple pseuds in m/m fiction, however, we might have to have words. 😉

  28. Kris says:

    KC: “But honestly, as long as I can easily type said author's name into my kindle and hit buy, I just really don't give two poops.”

    The bottom line – Did you enjoy the book? Yes/No. Was the author's name inherent to your enjoyment of the book? Yes/No. Case closed.

    JenB: “… fans can end up feeling…tricked…”

    Unfortunately, yes. Because I'm a bit of an ostrich (ie oblivious and lazy), I don't get out and about enough to have this kind of interaction but I can still appreciate how betrayed someone would feel in these circumstances. To me, it's misrepresentation.

    “They can, however, make a difference to my perception.”

    This made me curious. Your expectations about the book or your perceptions about the author or both??

  29. Jambrea says:

    It doesn't bother me. If the person can write and I enjoy the story, I'm happy. lol

    I understand why some people have pens. Me, I like being me so I write using my name. My name is still considered a pen because I use my maiden name, but I don't hide it. 🙂 Jambrea Jo Jones just sounds better, to me, than Jambrea Jo Gaff. 🙂

  30. Kris says:

    Jambrea: zOMG! An exclusive reveal! Right here on my blog! We're all fame-arse! 😉

    “It doesn't bother me. If the person can write and I enjoy the story, I'm happy. lol”

    In the end I think that's it – 'did you like the book?' To me, most of the time, it's just that simple.

  31. I don't write under a pen name,what you see is what you get. That being said, I can understand why some authors feel the need to use one. For example, I know of a few writers who are also school teachers.

  32. Sean Kennedy says:

    I don't care about the gender of the author as long as the story is good.

    What I do hate, however, is when they pretend to be a gender they are not to 'legitimise' their work. At least now, anyways. It was different when publishers put the pressure on, or for George Eliot or the Brontes to do so when women were stigmatised and demonised by taking up the 'unwomanly' art of writing – but nowadays if you do it, particularly in this genre, it is disingenuous at best and reprehensible at worst.

    *needs moar coffee*

  33. Sean Kennedy says:

    Wow, I really didn't mean that last post to come across so harsh.

    I guess I was just thinking of some more recent and bloodboiling exposures of truly clueless authors inventing male personas to sell their stuff. *cough*

  34. Chris says:

    Probably we'll forgive you if you post more, um, “author pictures”, Sean. *beams in best Khris fashion*

  35. Sean Kennedy says:

    As my virtual big sister, Kris knows it will now be wrong to exploit me to the masses.

  36. Kris says:

    Stephani: Yeah. If the fact a person writes erotica – m/m at that – will have ramifications on their RL then I can't see why adopting a pen name isn't the best option for them.

    Sean: Wow. You're mean without coffee. 😉

    “I guess I was just thinking of some more recent and bloodboiling exposures of truly clueless authors inventing male personas to sell their stuff.”

    Nice save. I don't get how they could think it would make a difference anyway. The genre is dominated by chick authors and readers anyways. It's a weird POV to have.

  37. Kris says:

    “As my virtual big sister, Kris knows it will now be wrong to exploit me to the masses.”

    Yeah, Chris. That's right.

    BTW, have you seen this before? http://tinyurl.com/zcp8ot

  38. Chris says:

    *sniff* That link didn't work.

    And obviously Sean knows squat about having a big sister. I told my brother that he could fly (he was 2, I was 4) and he jumped off the top bunk. Whoops.

  39. Kris says:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_PGkgYkltrI0/S7gg_sc5UPI/AAAAAAAACeM/6qZ50lh-ZJw/s1600/twink.jpg

    Sean has a big sister in RL, but I think she must have been easy on him. The poor boy has absolutely no idea. *G*

  40. Matthew says:

    @Sean: “As my virtual big sister, Kris knows it will now be wrong to exploit me to the masses.”
    You mean you didn't know she's selling your naughty pics to your fans?

  41. @Kris – It is quite possible that I may have MPD but this specific personality is not in the know. 😉

    @Matthew – Very cool insight. It looks like I am going to have to peruse your bookshelf.

  42. Kris says:

    You promised you wouldn't tell! That's it. The deal's off. Hmpf.

  43. Kris says:

    Miranda: Let me know what the others say.

  44. JenB says:

    Either, both. Depends how I feel that day. 🙂

  45. Tracy says:

    I understand why people have pen names but as a reader they don't effect me one way or the other. I don't care if the author is a man or a woman or a writing kangaroo – if I'm drawn to their book I'm gonna read it!

  46. Kris says:

    JenB: Figures. 🙂

    Tracy: A writing kangaroo, heh. I wonder how Sirk is going with her werekanga story??

    “… if I'm drawn to their book I'm gonna read it!”

    And there you go. Again, with the bottom line. Most of us will buy the book regardless if we are attracted to the story. That's it.

  47. Tracy says:

    Oh yes, Sirk. Huh, we haven't heard from her in a while. Whose pouch is she hiding in?

  48. Kris says:

    Dunno. She must be focussed on writing her masterpiece. That girl can be so intense.

  49. Clare London says:

    Nope, I don't mind at all.

    *then goes on to make exceptions…*

    I don't like the other-gender pen name if it's carried over into email/online chat. But I don't quite know how that can be avoided in today's net-accessible world, or at what point the line is actually crossed. But I dislike the idea that I'm being lied to when I'm talking with someone on a personal level.

    “Stripper names”!!! LMAO. How many times have we spoken some of the pen names aloud and wondered how the hell to pronounce them??

    I chose half of my pen name to be the same as in RL – it means when someone yells at me, I know to turn my head (or not, as the case may be…). 🙂

  50. Kris says:

    Clare: “… it means when someone yells at me, I know to turn my head (or not, as the case may be…). :)”

    I'll remember that for yaoi con. LOL.

    “But I dislike the idea that I'm being lied to when I'm talking with someone on a personal level.”

    Totally understandable. Also, there's a certain vulnerability when someone first connects with a book and then make the effort to contact the author and reveal their response. Wrong or right, I wonder if this is why some feel the betrayal if the author has misrepresented themselves more than authors. Hmmm.

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