Using a Nom de Plume

One of my close male friends reads a new book every couple of days. Sometimes I wonder how he finds enough books to read. The answer to that is another story.

My friend has an admitted bias. He doesn’t like to read books written by women. He says he doesn’t identify with the tone, perspective, or content chosen by women who write.

That point of view is not uncommon. Because that opinion can limit sales, some women choose to write under a male pen name to get broader exposure for their work.

The bias can work both ways. If a man chooses to write in a genre that is dominated by women, then he may want to counter that bias by using a womanly pen name.

I was surprised to learn that Lyman Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and a series of novels based on Oz, chose to write under feminine pen names.

Richard Daybell, who pens the “Tis Pity Hes’ a Writer” blog, writes the following:

Baum’s intention with the Oz books, and other fairy tales, was to tell American tales in much the same manner as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen , modernizing them and removing the excess violence He is often credited with the beginning of the sanitization of children’s stories, although his stories do include eye removals, maimings of all kinds and an occasional decapitation.

Most of the books outside the Oz series were written under pseudonyms. Baum was variously known as Edith Van Dyne, Laura Bancroft, Floyd Akers, Suzanne Metcalf, Schuyler Staunton, John Estes Cooke, and Capt. Hugh Fitzgerald.

There is a place for using a pen name. Writing a maritime story under a fictitious name starting with the title “Captain” adds credibility from the moment a potential reader looks at the cover. Perhaps this brief discussion will stimulate you to consider under what circumstances a pseudonym would work for you.

Won’t it be ironic if my male friend discovers that some of  his “male” authors are really women?



One response »

  1. Pingback: Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

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