Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Business of Writing: The Pen Name #ASMSG #IARTG #MFRWOrg

George Sand by Nadar, 1864.
Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.
Close your books and grab your pens, class. Here is your pop quiz for the day!

Who was/is...?
  • Mark Twain
  • George Sand
  • CJ Cherryh 
  • Kimberly Iverson
Just about everyone with decent grades in high school English should know that Mark Twain is the most famous pen name of several used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

Bonus points if you knew (or were able to look up) that George Sand was born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, and that Carolyn Janice Cherry went by her initials and stuck an h onto the end of her name so that her science fiction novels didn't appear to be written by a romance author.

Mega bonus points if you figured out that "Kimberly Iverson" is me. :D

There many reasons to establish a pseudonym, some relevant to this day and age such as Clemens's intent to prevent any potential literary backlash from affecting his brother Orion's political career. Other reasons—for example, a woman inventing a man's name because authors were predominantly men, as in the cases of Dupin and Cherry—perhaps not so much. I even see men's names on erotica romance these days (though I will be a good girl, for once, and refrain from speculating upon the content of such works :D).

Establishing a pseudonym (once you've invented one that you like, and done enough research to ensure that no one else is using it) is as easy as typing it on the title page.

Managing one or more pseudonyms, however, is the real trick.

The blog post written by Derek Haines ( discusses doing this via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and is a good starting point.

What Haines doesn't cover is that you can establish multiple author pages via retail and book discussion forums such as Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc.

When it came time for my literary agent to shop around the first edition of my novel Liberty in 2003, he advised that I submit it under a pseudonymt since Dawnflight hadn't been an "overnight sensation." I chose "Kimberly Iverson," and my agent found an editor at HQN Books who was willing to take a chance on a "first time" author with the project. When she learned that I had published with Simon & Schuster just a few years earlier, it made Liberty all the easier to sell to her management.

I already had a "Kim Headlee" author page on Amazon, so I created one for "Kimberly Iverson" tied to a different email address to delineate the two accounts in their system. Simple as that.

Once I started self-publishing under a blend of both names, "Kim Iverson Headlee," I added the other permutations to each of the books' "contributor" fields in the metadata so that fans of "Kim Headlee," "Kimberly Iverson," or "Kim Iverson Headlee" can find all my books all the time.

Having one or more books in print automatically gets the author's name established in discussion forums such as Goodreads. In my case, I had to contact a super librarian in the Goodreads Librarians Group to sort out the merging of my "Kim Headlee" and "Kimberly Iverson" author profiles into "Kim Iverson Headlee." These folks are very supportive and helpful, and they will also advise when and how to make changes for yourself.

I recommend all authors join the Goodreads Librarians Group, because you never know when you'll need extra information, or when some glitch or special request might pop up that you cannot fix on your own.

I chose to merge my various pen names for several reasons, not the least of which being that it's easier to manage one author page per platform than three. Whether you take this approach or not is entirely up to you; I'm just here to tell you that it's quite doable.

Best of luck to you, whatever name give your pen!

Enter this giveaway for an autographed print copy of Liberty!

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All this month, you are invited to...
— Follow Kim on Twitter
— Add Kim to Google+
— Subscribe to Kim's YouTube channel
— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter and/or YouTube follow
...and each action this month is good for one chance to win an e-book copy of Snow in July. Please enter often, and good luck!

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