It’s a pleasure to welcome author Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Wilson (aka Megan Tayte) back to Thoughts in Progress today. Charlie is celebrating something special this month and she’s here to tell us more about it.
Charlie will share some pros and cons of using a pen name when writing and will share an awesome giveaway that she’s offering.
Welcome, Charlie. What are you celebrating?
This February marks two years since I published the first novel in my Ceruleans series, Death Wish, and one year since I published the fifth and final title, Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully.
To celebrate this anniversary – and the relaunch of my novels (previously published under the pen name Megan Tayte) – I’m having a little party!! I’m giving away a full set of the Ceruleans novels in print: that’s all the new-edition paperbacks delivered to your door (wherever that is in the world).
The Ceruleans novels are available to purchase at the following sites: Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble.
Now Charlie, share your thoughts on ‘pen name versus real name: pros and cons.’
Hello, my name’s Charlotte. Well, actually it’s Charlie. You may know me as Megan, though.
Megan Tayte is a pen name I used to publish my book series The Ceruleans a year ago. Charlotte Wilson (Charlie for short) is my real name I used to relaunch my book series The Ceruleans last month.
Why publish under a pen name in the first place? Why ‘come out’ and publish under a real name? Here’s an idea of the pros and cons of publishing under a pen name:
Pro: You’re wonderfully free to write whatever you like, however you like, without anyone in your daily life knowing about it (especially important for many authors who have day jobs and don’t want to share their fictional projects with colleagues/clients – this was a key reason for me).
Pro: You feel cushioned from any judgment or criticism that may come your way. If someone says ‘Ugh, that Sonia can’t write’ and you aren’t in fact Sonia at all, somehow that’s less painful.
Pro: You can shape a brand around the pen name. In marketing terms, pen names can be really powerful. My real name is Charlie Wilson. Yep, as in Charlie Wilson’s War and as in the American R&B singer. Not an ideal brand, then. But the pen name I chose, Megan Tayte, was unique. Google that and you’ll only find results relating to my writing.
Con: You have to manage a separate identity. That can be a lot of work, managing a website, social media accounts, emails and so on for your real name and this pen name (and other pen names if you have them). When you sign off any email, you have to think carefully, Hang on – who am I?
Con: You may feel uncomfortable not being entirely open. Presenting yourself to the world as Lauren when you’re in fact Harmony can lead to… well, disharmony. Pseudonyms have always been perfectly accepted in the publishing industry (remember, Emily Brontë published Wuthering Heights back in 1847 as Ellis Bell), but it can feel like they stand between the reader and the writer as a barrier of sorts.
For me, it was the final ‘con’ that tipped the balance. Although I have written under different names throughout my career (it comes with the territory of ghost-writing), when it came to publishing my fiction, which is very personal to me, I found I was uncomfortable not claiming full ownership of my words. Back in the nineteenth century, Emily Brontë felt she ought to publish under a masculine nom de guerre in order that her novel be taken seriously, but I face no such prejudice; I’m free to choose the name on my book covers.
It was my little boy, in the end, who made up my mind. One day he came into my writing room and looked up at the shelf where I display my books. He read across them until he reached The Ceruleans, and then he pointed to the name ‘Megan Tayte’ and said, ‘Who’s that?’ Quite, I thought.
Now, when my son comes into my room, he sees my name on the new edition covers. ‘That’s my mum,’ he says, beaming.
Ultimately, deciding between using a pen name or real name is a personal choice. For me, it came down to owning my own words and showing my son who his mother really is: a writer, and proud.
Charlie, thanks for sharing that look at real versus pen name. You have some very valid points there.
Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Charlie (Megan), here some background on her.