Exploring the Pen Name
With Guest Blogger and Author Brent Bowen
(During the month of June, here at Today the Dragon Wins we explore the use of pseudonyms. Don't forget to participate in the discussion in the comment field to enter the contest for a copy of the eBook versions of Choices Meant for Gods and Apparitions. Details were posted June 1.)
Down the drain with BM Bowen
Unlike many of the authors who have written to this point, I've yet to actually decide to use a pen name. But I'm seriously contemplating it and need help. I can’t use my initials: BM Bowen. No way (for obvious reasons)! And I can’t do my middle name and the street I grew up on (well I could if I were writing westerns): Introducing Matthew Stagecoach! Um. No.
But I need one. They're everywhere.
Just last week I received an email blast from Audible.com entitled, "Your Favorite Author's Pen Name." Then, I'm listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Adventures in Scifi Publishing, and it featured two great episodes last year that had well-established paranormal-romance authors talking about their pen names, episode 26-Tate Hallaway and episode 30-Jacqueline Carey.
Jacqueline Carey explains she will be taking on a pen name so, in part, she could market something in a different genre without disrupting the readership of her Kushiel's series.
In Tate's case, Tate is her pen name. And it gave her a new life in publishing. She wrote for several years as scifi writer Lyda Morehouse. And while she's received critical acclaim for her scifi books, several went out of print and she says that "she kinda had to change her name so Barnes & Noble would stock her next book." Interestingly, she also offers that while it's a good idea to have a pen name ready, be flexible. Because she writes paranormal romances, her publisher asked her to change the last name of her chosen pseudonym to start with "Ha" so she could be shelved next to Charlaine Harris and Kim Harrison.
Now, why would I consider taking a pseudonym? First, there are too many of me. Need proof? Conduct the domain-name test. As Sandy mentioned in a prior blog post of mine, search http://www.brentbowen.com/ and you'll be greeted with “Do you need to speak with an experienced civil law attorney in Texas?" Yikes. Now, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com, if you don't know) test. I can't even use my middle initial to help distinguish me: Brent M. Bowen has had a very nice career in visual effects. There's even a Brent Bowen author. Though he's a PHD in aviation, writes non-fiction, and teaches at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Yawn.
So, what am I going to do about all of this? Naturally, hold a contest. Several week's ago, people offered pen-name suggestions on my post, "Play the name game."
My esteemed panel of judges (my wife, brother and mom) picked their six favorite. Vote now for your favorite on my poll. Or, visit to see the paths not traveled. Indeed, sometimes those are the most fun.
But, ultimately, like Tate, I may have to keep it backpocket because a publisher wants me to fit in the "Sa" group on the shelf. Nice problem to have if you ask me. Then we'll line it up and do it all over again.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."