There’s a peculiar belief amongst the SF/F/H amateur writing world (and, I would imagine, the amateur writing world at large) that to be a writer, what one really really needs is an awesome pseudonym.
Forgive me if I accidentally pluck an in-use nom de guerre from the air when I make this list of example cockamaime sobriquets, but I’ve seen ones such as:
- Mortekai Darkholme
- Desdemona Bloodraven
- Wednesday Salamander
Writers go through a mid-life crisis once they’re famous and successful. What if I’m not any good these days? they wonder. What if it’s my name people are buying, not my writing skill? To appease the ego they grab themselves a pseudonym and release a new book, usually in an altogether different genre. It doesn’t sell, so someone lets out that the new book is actually by Famous Author writing under a pen name. Fans rush to buy it, Famous Author’s ego is soothed, and life returns to normal. But you, new writer, are not yet famous. You are not suffering a midlife crisis. And unless you have reason to believe that publishing a book under your real name could bring actual danger to you and yours (whistleblowing biographies are a good one for this), insisting on writing under a pseudonym makes you look pretentious and unprofessional to any agent or publisher who doesn’t specialise in Goth fiction.
If you want to be a novellist, check your bookshelves. I’ll wager most of the authors there aren’t pseudonyms, and have relatively normal names. Yes, of course there are obviously going to be exceptions, but George Eliot knew nobody would take a female author seriously during her lifetime, and China Miéville can’t help what his parents named him.
If you want to be a writer, what you really really need is to be good at writing. If your prose stinks and your dialogue is lifeless, no amount of crazy rebranding will help you.