One Key Reason Why You Might Want To Use A Pseudonym

George Orwell critiqued totalitarianism in government. Hunter S. Thompson explored…and lived the drug culture. Flannery O’Connor, a devout Catholic, was perhaps one of the darkest American authors ever published.

Good writing, almost as a rule, challenges its readers. There will be individuals who do not understand, or do not want to understand, what you are attempting to do with your writing, and they will judge you. It is unconscionable how many readers will assume that authors have the same traits as, or are advocating the traits of, some of the most despicable characters in their fiction. It is unconscionable, but that will not change anytime soon. People’s judgment of your work can cause wedges with family members, friends, publishers, and most notably – with employers or potential employers.

Writing, at its heart, is all about conflict. By and large, most of the professional world requires the presentation of a clean-cut image. If you are writing about sex, violence, racism, or any other subject that is impolite in conversation (and cast a wide net with this), you might want to consider writing under a pseudonym, so as to protect yourself from any harm in the public sphere. Employers can and do Google search potential employees. If your name is John Rogers, you might not have much to worry about, but if your name is a bit less common (like mine!) than you might want to consider if writing under a pseudonym is appropriate.

Some might say that is a cowardly approach. I wouldn’t say so, as many writers can and do make a living from their work, but that requires diligence, consistent writing, networking, editing, and publishing assistance; still, the vast majority have to rely on other means than their fictive works. My own writing tends to be extremely subversive. However, I am a freelancer and entrepreneur, aside from being a writer, so I don’t feel any discomfort if someone were to look up my name and see it attached to works of a transgressive nature. Even while I was in the workforce in a traditional job in academia, I knew who to mention my writing to, and who to avoid speaking about it with, or to talk about with, but only in the most general terms. This is pretty easy to gauge, and I’m sure you’ll be able to discern appropriately.

Of course, whether you choose to use a pseudonym or not is up to you. If you are unsure, ask yourself the following six questions, and then decide:

  1. How edgy is my writing? 
  2. Is there a significant likelihood of damage coming to my finances, family, or person if I were to publish under my own name?
  3. Do I want the privacy that a pseudonym provides, or do I prefer the spotlight?
  4. How memorable is my given name? 
  5. How literary does my given name feel?
  6. Do I write in multiple genres, and thus want to keep my audiences separate?

Regardless of whether you choose to use a pseudonym or not, I wish you the very best in your literary endeavors.

Alfonso Colasuonno
Publisher, The Literary Game


The Literary Game is Back!

Friends, I’m happy to inform you that I have decided to restore The Literary Game. I am honored and humbled to have amassed such a large audience to my blog, and want to continue the tradition of posts that many writers have come to expect – sound, practical advice that works.

Additionally, I have a few new features I am proud to mention. If you click here, I have a free downloadable set of PowerPoint slides that are a guide to the basics of fiction writing. I encourage you to download them, and tell me what you think.

Another new feature that I have added to The Literary Game is the ability to engage with me for a Q&A. If you have a specific writing-related question that you would like me to address, just email me, and I would be happy to answer your question. If I feel that it has wider applicability to writers, I’ll even turn it into a future blog post.

Lastly, I have dramatically reduced the prices of my services as an editor. For only $5/page, I will provide a thorough edit of the manuscript for your novel, short fiction, or flash fiction (prices are slightly higher for poems, screenplays, and plays). I provide a free meet-and-greet, in person, if you’re local to New York City, or via Skype otherwise, so I can truly understand your needs before getting to work. I’ll also provide a free heads up as to, in my opinion, what your best options are for publishing your specific work. To hire me as your editor, simply email me.

If you feel confident about your manuscript, but do not know where to turn in regards to publishing, I have also reduced my prices as a publishing consultant to only $30/hour. (Note: Most clients do not need more than 10 hours). For that rate, I can provide everything that you need to put yourself in the best position to publish your work with a reputable publisher. Admittedly, not all pieces are ready for publication, so if I feel that your writing could use a thorough edit, rather than take your money and leave you with false hope, I will suggest that you rewrite your piece first, and refund you any money already paid. To hire me as your publishing consultant, simply email me.

I’m excited about restoring The Literary Game! With your help, I hope to turn this website into one of the premier homes on the Internet for budding writers to turn to for all their needs. If you would please help me in this regard by doing whatever you can to spread the word, be it sharing posts, referring friends, or linking to my site, I would truly appreciate it.

Thank you so much for reading! Together, let’s take this website to new heights!

Alfonso Colasuonno
Publisher, The Literary Game