To Pseudonymize or Not to Pseudonymize

(I am aware that there is no such word as pseudonymize, but “To Choose a Pseudonym or Not to Choose a Pseudonym” doesn’t have the same ring.)

Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper. Hard guys with hard names. And what about Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Nicholas Cage, Clint Eastwood? More hard guys with hard names.

Is it any accident that some of the world’s best-selling authors are men with hard names? King. Would he ever have become King if he had a name like Shayne? Only if his first name was Mike. And don’t forget Koontz, Clancy, Cook.

I thought a lot about using a pseudonym, something hard like Cole Black that would immediately proclaim, “Here is an author with an edge.” But there would be problems with a pseudonym: cashing royalty checks; explaining to a publisher that I’m not hiding anything by using a fake name; being invited to the White House as Cole Black and only having identification for Pat Bertram. Ouch. Except for the last, they are simple problems after all. But then I got to wondering: if I did a book signing and people expected a man and were confronted with a woman, would they feel cheated?

In the end I decided to stick with my own name. It’s a good name for an author with enough hard consonants to sound authoritative. Besides, it has the whole androgynous “It’s Pat” thing going for it; I can be whoever I want.

And anyway, p’s and b’s and t’s and r’s didn’t hurt Brad Pitt any.


Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.  At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!


Filed under life, musings, Pat Bertram, writing

7 responses to “To Pseudonymize or Not to Pseudonymize

  1. ~Sia~

    Cole Black? lolol! Funny, but pretty cool play on words, all in all. For me it will depend upon the genre I’m publishing. Sia McKye utilizes family names and really there are very few named Sia out there. Romance and mainstream. For my para normal stories, I have another name I’ll use, also from family names–God knows, we’ve got more than enough to go around.

  2. J J Dare

    Interesting and very true. I chose my “pseudonym” because of the way it sounds: hard and clipped. For a long time, some folks on didn’t realize I was a woman (including Mike, I think). That was the ultimate compliment for my writing.

  3. amydetrempe

    The only change I made was to go back to my maiden name. Hubby didn’t mind and it is less common than my married name. I played with a bunch of different names, but always came back to the one I was born with. Maybe if I write in another genre someday I will come up with a pseudonym.

  4. You have a great name. Actually, on Gather, for some reason, I assumed (I know, I know)you were male. But whether male or female, your writing is strong and speaks for itself.! Chris

  5. Just stopping by to check out the blog when your post caught my eye. I enjoyed reading this, especially since I’m struggling with the same decision right now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Sherrie Hansen (or Sherrie Hansen Decker, depending on what I decide)
    Night & Day
    Soon to be Released by Second Wind Publishing

  6. The point about cashing the checks is certainly valid. That’s one of the reasons I love Kindle and Createspace. I can set up the account in my real name, and then just use as many pseudonyms as I want for my writing.

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