Saturday, February 26, 2011


It's an old writer's trick to use a pseudonym for literary endeavors. Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) is the most notable example I can think of, though there have been numerous examples throughout the years. Many writers have used an alias to market their writing, though it is something I have never done. I pose you the question, is it a good idea?

The main item to consider is my real name. I've often wondered if Martin Ingham is such a useful moniker for the cover of a book. The big problem is obviously the last name. Who here knows how to pronounce "Ingham?" Say it aloud (go ahead, humor me). Now, I'm betting more than half of you got it wrong. Most people have the natural inclination to pronounce it "Ingram" with a "gram," rather than "um." Ing-um. Not really catchy, is it? Olde English at its best.

Is it wise to market books under a name that nobody can pronounce? Now, it's not like my name is long and hard, but it isn't exactly normal outside of England (I've found there are quite a few Inghams in the UK, and another Martin Ingham has a car dealership over there). This is one of the many points to consider.

So, if I were to use a pseudonym, which would I choose? A writer has so many invented names to select from, and there are any number of ways to go. Robert A. Heinlein had a few in his early pulp magazine days, most notably "Anson MacDonald" which was a combination of his middle name and his 2nd wife's maiden name. I've found many aliases often have some linking connection to the author like that. They still need a label with which they can identify.

Since I've been doing research on my genealogy, I have literally hundreds of names to choose from. Maybe "Richard Kirton" would be a good name (my 4x Great Grandfather), or how about "Charles Ballinger" (my 3x Great Grandfather). Or let's mix it up a bit, and use "Tobias MacCain?" Okay, maybe not, but you get the picture. So many fake names to choose from.

Yes, I know, it's a little late in the game to be considering a pseudonym. I already have 4 novels in print, and a growing fan-base under my real name, so this is probably all a waste of time. Then again, having achieved limited success thus far with my real name, it may be time to start out fresh. There is no doubt baggage that comes with my current career (editors who didn't like something I sent them, or think I'm old news and not liable to strike it big if I haven't already). A new name could be a way to come back, though I'm not sure I'd want to be known under a false label.

It's just a possibility...

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