Pen Names

So, I finished The Cuckoo’s Calling over the weekend.   Sadly, book club was canceled due to my own family comes first change of plans and one of the three remaining attendees begged off too.  It was better than I was expecting, so don’t hold JKR’s first adult novel against Cuckoo and give it a read if you like a mystery set in London.

But can someone explain the art of pen names to me?  I kinda’ get why Rowling decided to publish this book as Robert Galbraith, but Basically Bloggless Susan and I spent part of the weekend trying to figure out why cozy writers who clearly have a good formula insist upon having a different pen name for every series they write.

See, here’s where the logic goes out the window.  These people aren’t best selling ever children’s lit writers whose first attempt at adult lit wasn’t so awesome.  They’re solid little, soft mystery with a theme of some sort writers who would likely have readers follow them from series to series if they’d make it easy for us and not change names every time the setting and main characters change.  Their publishers – or their own blogs – usually out them in a short order anyway, so …  I don’t get it.  It would be so much simpler to search on Amazon for more books by the same author if they’d just use the same name!

Sorry for the lack of a photo.  I don’t get the cover art for Cuckoo and my work computer really struggles with photos in WordPress anyway…

What are you reading?


11 comments on “Pen Names

  1. kathy boyer says:

    Same thing I was reading last week! Gosh Im slow. I spend more time knitting than reading.
    I dont get the pen name thing either!

  2. AlisonH says:

    That one really kinda threw me because I know someone local whose real-life name is that pen name. I don’t think I can pick up that book without picturing Bob at the piano or organ playing his heart out.

  3. Sue says:

    I don’t understand it either. If they’re going to use a pen name, don’t then announce what it is and unless they’re doing something they’re not proud of, why use a different name at all?

  4. Katherine says:

    I’ve wondered the same thing and decided that the pen name must help a writer relate to different characters in a different way than they did with characters in another book. (If I’m Sue Smith I must be writing the dog series today”). Just a guess!

    I read a bunch of cozies over the weekend and now I’m starting Stuart Woods latest Stone Barrington mystery.

  5. No clue about the Pen Names thing…not as they change types of books or for any other reason…as you said, the anonymity doesn’t last long anyway. Reading a Maggie Sefton Knitting mystery, Dropped Dead Stitch, #7 in the series. Ok, but not great

  6. Nancy says:

    My reading has stalled – but I am still working on Plainsong, and The Highway.

  7. Jessica says:

    I was thinking about the pen names recently, too. I know there is an Army wife that writes Romance novels (the grocery store kind, ripped bodice and all?) and so i can understand why she writes under a pen name, or at least different than her husband. As for the writers that have several different pen names, i do not get it.

  8. Barbara S. says:

    I am listening to “In The Garden Of Beasts” because I have a really hard time reading Erik Larsen (this is the second book by him we have read for book club); thank goodness for downloadable e-audible books from the library!I am not sure listening to it is a whole lot better, but at least I have stuck with this one, knitting while listening has kept me with it; it helps that I have the book as well to reference when needed.
    As to multiple pen names, it is often the decision of the editor and/or publisher for an author to have different (more than one or two) pen names; sometimes if the author writes in different genres, or when they publish several books in one year (or so I have heard in author interviews when they were asked that very question).

  9. gmarie says:

    I need more information. Who has written multiple series under different pen names? Anyone I know and enjoy? Doesn’t make sense, because you’re right, if I liked the books (character development, plot, location, etc) I will at least entertain the first book in a new series by the same author. Isn’t sales the number one goal?

    I’m reading Heather Wells mysteries as pointed out by VDK. I’ve also recently finished Something Borrowed and Something Blue and honestly – I really, really liked Darcie at the end of Something Blue. She turned out to be a good egg, didn’t she?


  10. Mary says:

    Just finished “The Beginner’s Goodbye” by Anne Tyler and just picked up “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meachem.

  11. Blond Duck says:

    Maybe it helps them get in the mood– like as Susan Combs I can really make this different. Kind of like an actor taking on different roles.

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