What’s in a Name?

When I tell people I’m writing science fiction and fantasy, I’m often asked if I use a pen name or my initials instead of my first name. The premise is that a male author is more acceptable in those genres. The Bronte sisters are probably the most famous women who adopted male pseudonyms in the 1800s. More recently, JK Rowling allegedly used initials so as not to turn off her target audience of young males.


Is this necessary? When I poked around the internet, about half thought men had an advantage in the publishing industry, sci-fi in particular; the other half thought it didn’t matter.

What do you think? Is a male author more acceptable in certain genres or in publishing overall? Would you read sci-fi written by a woman? How about genres aimed at women? Would you read a romance written by a man? Would young girls have loved the Nancy Drew books as much if the name on the spine was male? What about the Hardy Boys books? Would they have sold if they had a female author?

What’s your opinion or experience with this issue?



5 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. I would totally read a science fiction book by a woman. In fact, my last four were (Martha Wells). In the lab, on a space ship, or whatever the setting is, the men and women have the same job. I wouldn’t expect any difference in the stories whether a man wrote it or a woman did.

    There’s a man in our town who writes romance and goes by his initials for the reason you mentioned. I’d read a romance written by a man, but I’d expect it to be different … probably the men would be more realistic (and the women less so). Sometimes I roll my eyes at the hunks in typical romance books.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lynnefisher says:

    I would read anything by a woman or man, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a mans name carries more weight just through the old ‘received’ through history habit of associating men with more focus and insight laid down through the ages, same with the art world too! I have come to this conclusion over time, although I have railed against it, so i can understand why women do use male pen names or their initials depending on the genre.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: