A whole lot, as it turns out.
I’ve had an identity crisis that has resulted in the need to create an alter ego. A pen name. A pseudonym. It’s so pretentious-sounding I think I threw up in my throat a little just now.
But let me back up a minute and explain.
I’m a writer. Words are important to me. I’ve always tried to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how much value I placed on a few strung-together letters. Especially when those letters constitute my last name. There’s a whole lot of me invested in them, if you catch what I’m saying.
Anyway, when this writing thing started turning into something serious, I figured I’d better check to see about whether the domain for my name was available. It was not. I didn’t look any further into it, naturally, because I am an idiot.
Actually, I didn’t look any further into it because naturally I assumed I’d just add my middle initial. Countless people have to do it to differentiate themselves from others with the same first/last combo. And I figured if absolute worst came to worst, I’d make a fake middle initial and I’d be set, right?
Obviously not, otherwise you’d be somewhere else that shall remain unnamed, not here.
But in Emilyville nothing is normal.
Turns out the Other Emily-With-My-Married-Name is a writer as well. So several writers who are very smart at marketing and platform-building told me, “You need to consider a pen name.”
Being not very smart and feeling rather touchy about the whole name thing, I said, “Readers know the difference between romance genres. No one would accidentally buy one of the Other Emily’s books thinking they were buying one of my humorous contemporary romances!”
. . . that was until I had TWO people in TWO different writers groups get all aflutter when they thought I was the Other Emily.
In the first instance, I went in to post a quick question one day and got this lengthy, raving introduction about ‘how lucky we are here at [this writers’ loop] to have [the Other Emily] here with us today!!!!!!!!! As most of you are well aware she’s written 825,987,347 books!!!!!!!! and is considered an expert in the Regency time period!!!!!!!!! And we’re just sooooo lucky to have you with us!!!!!!!!!!’
So I broke down and went with a pen name.
You know the worst part? No one ever did get around to answering my question.