When I attended FantasyCon 2011 in Brighton, one of the hot topics was should female writers change their name to make it more ‘masculine’ in order not to put off potential readers (I’ve dubbed it the JK Rowling effect). I’ve spoken to a couple of publishers, agents and authors both at the conference and afterwards and views are exceedingly mixed. Apparently agent Jo Fletcher recommended a female writer use only her initials should she attempt to publish but when I suggested this to Dorothy Lumley from the Dorien Literacy Agency, she was scandalised. I think it’s sad that in 2012 we’re having to even think about these things but it does present writers (male and female) with a predicament: what do you call yourself? Branding is everything is this competitive world so you can’t afford to get it wrong. Personally, if I’m lucky enough to ever be published, I think I might just use my first initial. It’s not out of concern that people might be put off reading my work – my name is just very long!
Anyway, it’s evidently not just unpublished authors who face the quandary of what to call themselves, it’s a problem for successful authors as well. Here’s an article about Patricia O’Brien who struggled to sell her sixth novel, ‘The Dressmaker’. That is until she started to send it to publishers under the name ‘Kate Alcott’ at which point it was snapped up. For more, read the full article here.