To Pseudonym or Not To Pseudonym?

I have a long last name. It’s so long and intimidating that my coworkers seem to recoil every time they hear it. Funny enough, Iannantuono is not as bad as it looks.  My family drops a syllable, making it ‘Eye-En-Twon-Oh’.

Which brings me to the pseudonyms. This is a topic that has been discussed at length on WordPress – but as someone with a difficult name, it would perhaps benefit me to go by a pseudonym. I even did it in Heroes fandom – I was the very ordinary Michelle O’Rourke for a tic. Perhaps I’d sell more books with the gender-neutral M.L. Iannantuono,  or perhaps I could brand myself easier with the snappy Chelle Tuono.

But I *like* my name. I like that you can’t get me confused with anyone else. My name is a conversation starter. Part of it translates to “thunder” in Italian, which I appreciate. When I query agents, I hope the uniqueness of my name will stick with them. Because it’s so long, it often sticks out furthest in a list and catches a reader’s eye first. And really, to be an author, do I need readers to find my name pronounceable? People still pronounce J.K. Rowling’s name wrong and that one’s not even hard! (Hint – it’s ‘roll-ing’).

If I wanted to write in different genres, particularly things I don’t want my mother reading (aka erotica), then I’d certainly use another name. But I’d feel weird about taking on a false or shortened ‘stage name’, when everyone close to me would still know me as Michelle. Additionally, I’ve spent 15 years on the con circuit getting to know authors who I may eventually hit up for a foot in the door. ‘Iannantuono’ is the recognizable name to them, and can make the difference between an ignored email and an answered one. Or a followback on Twitter.

So for now, I’m keeping it. I haven’t ruled out a self publishing career on the side, and perhaps that would demand an exciting alter ago. But for now, I’m going with my born name, because you can’t get better than being named ‘thunder.’

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