Friday, February 29, 2008

Gender-Hopping Pseudonyms

We’ve had a lot of discussions on the blog about the use of pseudonyms. Why you would choose to use one, when you would choose to use one, and how best to use it. A question came in recently regarding pseudonyms that we haven’t discussed before. . . .

Now can anyone tell me what's the situation on gender hopping with a pseudonym? For example, plain old Alfred Churchgate (former plant auto worker), who has written a historical romance set in 16th century Rome and wishes to market his book as Cassandra Castiglione. Let's face it . . . it actually would sell more copies, wouldn't it? What are the practical objections to gender hopping with pen names?

One would assume that yes, a romance novel written under a woman’s name would sell more copies or more easily find new readers than if it were published under a man's name. I also suspect military fiction or a military thriller would have better luck under a man’s name. And honestly, I can’t think of any downsides to gender hopping when it comes to your pseudonym. At some point or another it’s very likely your readers will discover that your real name is Alfred, but is that a problem if you’ve already garnered an audience of devoted fans?

Let me throw this to my readers, though, because I’m curious. Would you be disappointed if you found out that Cassandra Castiglione was really Alfred Churchgate? And would you romance readers be less likely to pick up a book if it were written by a man? What about military fiction readers? Would you be less likely to pick up a tough-guy military, Tom Clancy-style book if it were written by Candy Cane?