Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Rose By Any Other Name

Would it truly smell as sweet?

This is at the heart of the whole pseudonym issue, one I have given much thought to over the past few years (my first agent and I tossed a few potential names around) and am considering again now that I'm trying to resurrect my career. Now that I'm a three-book wonder and a bit of a has-been, with mediocre sales but sales nonetheless, I'm stuck with trying to decide if I should continue my career as Beth Amos or try to launch a new one under a new name. A fresh start sounds okay, but shouldn't I get some kind of credit for what I've already done? Should I kill Beth Amos off and let her rest in peace, or try to resuscitate her? I find the idea of committing authorial suicide kind of intriguing but also more painful than it should be. Yet many people I know who are in-the-know on these matters say it's easier to sell a book today as a new, unpublished author rather than a has-been.

I confess, there is a part of me that likes the idea of pretending to be someone else, of assuming a new identity and perhaps even manufacturing a few, fun personality traits to go along with this new persona. I could eliminate many of my flaws (or at least pretend they don't exist) and acquire some desirable traits I'm currently lacking. The possibilities seem endless -- I imagine I could waste precious hours every day just reinventing myself. For starters, the new me will be a witty, articulate conversationalist. She'll be beautiful (a pseudonym needs a pseudopicture, right?) and have thin thighs and a cute ass. She'll be young and sassy and sexually attractive to both men and women. She'll never snort when she laughs, cuss like a sailor, or cast evil curses on people she doesn't like. Wait...I might want to hang onto that last one.

It all sounds fun and adventurous, all right, but it's hard to let go of the real me. Granted, I'm far from perfect and possess enough flaws and personality quirks to irritate the most patient of people. But I've grown comfortable in my own skin and 99% of the time I really like who I am. Assuming a new identity seems akin to saying I'm not good enough, that no one will like me for who I am anymore. Hiding who I really am seems deceptive. It feels like a form of prostitution. I don't want to do it.

But I will, assuming the right persons ask me to.

So I need a new name, just in case. There are a lot of things to consider. Should I choose a last name that keeps me at the front of the alphabet and therefore at the front of my book's section in the bookstores? Or should I pick one that would place me on the shelves next to similar authors who are bestsellers? For instance, if I wrote horror, would I want my last name to be Kingsland, so I can be nestled between Stephen King and Dean Koontz? ( there's a visual!) Or should I change my name to Abbott so I can be first in line on the shelf? And how will a given name look on a book cover? Should I pick short names, or long ones, or a mix of the two? Does the name itself suggest anything that might make a potential reader more, or less, likely to pick the book up? Does the name carry any positive or negative connotations?

It's quite overwhelming when you get right down to it. And for the moment, I can't decide on any one name. So maybe I'll try some on for size for the next few posts here, and develop a pseudopersonality to go with each one (the men in the white coats can't be far away). Stay tuned....