Are you sitting down? I have big news. The blue hair in my author pic? Totally fake. So is the name Avery Flynn.
Now, I realize my confession is not on par with Paula Deen announcing she has Type 2 diabetes while making a hamburger squashed between two donughts*, however, writing under a penname is not without its problems.
One danger is creating a situation I like to call the big fake out. This is what happens when you fall so deeply into your author alterego that you forget it’s not real.
An example of this is AJ Llewellyn. AJ identifies as a transgendered man but was blogging as a gay male going so far as to write “blog posts about coming out, being a victim of gay bashing, and even hired a man to sign for him at a booksigning,” according to Dear Author. AJ apolgized to readers, but it was too late for many. They felt betrayed, not because AJ wasn’t a guy, but because the self biography had become fiction presented as reality. None of that had anything to do with how well AJ writes or the quality of his books, but it may well have permanently limited the audience for his books.
Another downside to a penname is feeling like your pants are going to catch fire at any moment. There are a set of my fellow writers who know me by my real name. Others who, along with my readers, know me as Avery. It’s still weird to type Avery at the bottom of an e-mail or sign it on the first page of a book. I can’t help it, I’m a Midwesterner at heart and it seems like a lie – a white lie – but still a lie. And even though what I say and do as Avery, I’d say with my real name, I feel funny.
So why write under a psydonym? Lots of reasons, chief among them being my writing won’t put fill my fridge and pay for my kids’ shoes – yet. Until that happens I have to keep the day job, which requires I keep my author life separate from my real life. Bummer, I know. But if you buy more books and I’ll come out of the closet. 🙂
* The donught hamburger his is a real thing. Here’s the recipe.
12 thoughts on “As Fake As A Three Dollar Bill”
Hello Miss Avery. I totally support your penname and alterego. (It’s pretty fabulous.) Since I don’t have a penname, I think my best comparison to understand how you feel is the great anonymity and excitement that comes along with being a mermaid. It’s definitely easy to get lost in this creative and safe world. Oh, and let me not forget to ask when A Dry Creek Bed will come out in print? 🙂
Yep, being a mermaid does provide a nice support group. 🙂 A Dry Creek Bed should be out in print in about six months, until then it’s digital baby!
Avery – that other lady, that other lady – Avery. Makes no difference to me. Both you and your alter ego are FAB-U-LOUS!
Awwww. The $50 is in the mail. 🙂
Wait, wait. WAIT! Before you go putting that check in the mail I want my say– Hehehe — YOU’RE BOTH FAB-U-LOUS!!!
I have honestly debated the pen name vs. no pen name for a while now and I appreciate your honesty and your thoughts on the subject. And I’m still not sure I have my long term answer.
For one, it’s easy for someone to set up a Facebook, Twitter or web site and pose as someone else. I mean really how do you know you are conversing with a hot Scottish author vs. the over-the-hill grandma who raises alpaca in the backyard? You don’t.
And while I think published writers have an obligation to their fans to be who they are, I don’t think that necessarily means shouting their identities from the rooftops.
It can be a fine line but there are a lot of crazies in the world, and I think that in a profession like writing an author should also have the right to some anonymity, especially if your writing could potentially conflict with that pesky day job or some other aspect of your life.
Excellent point. The best pen name advice I got (after I’d already chosen mine of course) was to use the same first name as your real name. Sigh. I missed that boat.
Good to know!
Now you’re making me think I’m a schizo…I am so excited when I can ‘become’ my alter-ego because for me it’s more than a penname, it’s the author-me. The other me is a great gal, too, whom I love to pieces, but she runs a PR firm, and has lots of meetings and talks about stuff that just doesn’t float Denny’s boat…
Seriously, when I first started writing, I was very concerned about someone from my day job’s world finding out. After a few years, I became more comfortable with my writing aspirations and started telling clients and others that I write romance, and that I’d let them know when I got published. Many of them, including my largest client know my author name. And I’m very comfortable with that, and when I publish, I will let them all know to check out Denny S. Bryce…so in a big way, I am Denise and Denny all the time (also, my family calls me Denny, so it’s a knick name, too)…
You’re so cool as is, I can’t imagine your author you could be any better. 🙂 So glad you’re clients were on board. I’m too chicken to come out to mine, they’re a conservative bunch and I write some smexy stuff.
When Himself and I wrote a book together, we chose a pen name and even bought the URL for it: suzyhavoc.com. The book hasn’t sold, but we haven’t given up hope. And I will be happy to sign copies and pose for pictures as Suzy if it ever does! He intends to fly under the radar as the Maris of the relationship — forever unseen, constantly rumored.
I love that story. I am forever fascinated by writing partners. I can’t even imagine how to make that work. You must share some time.
I, like everyone else, think you both ROCK! Notice my all-caps there? I know how you love that!
I’ll buy either one of you a drink at Mike’s any day. Just let me know who to address. 🙂
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