GUEST POST with Bestselling Author, Michael Angel

I first met Michael Angel at a “boot camp for authors” in Lincoln City, Oregon, one cool October in 2009.

 His meticulous style and dress intrigued me right away. Clad clean crisp black clothing, everyday made me painfully aware Mr. Angel had no cats.

Mr. Angel has an incredible list of credentials however I feel dutiful when I say, I will refrain from citing all of them. Just be aware, this guy’s no sloth. Plus, he’s an amazing author. Not only has his latest work THE DETECTIVE & THE UNICORN reached #95 within a matter of days being listed on Amazon’s Kindle page but he also has the following work available through Amazon, B&N and Smashwords that are doing equally well. You don’t want to skip over this author. You’ll feel like a fool!

If you scroll past all of his wonderful book covers, you’ll find his posting below. Enjoy.

A Most Helpful Text by Michael Angel and J.D. Cutler (Kindle Edition – May 29, 2011) – Kindle eBook
Centaur of the Crime by Michael Angel (Kindle Edition – Jun 11, 2011) – Kindle eBook
Product DetailsGrace Under Pressure: Five Tension-Filled Tales by Michael Angel and J.D. Cutler (Kindle Edition – Jun 6, 2011) – Kindle eBook
Product DetailsThe Pusher’s List by Michael Angel and J.D. Cutler (Kindle Edition – May 30, 2011) – Kindle eBook

Mr. Angel’s print books will be available soon so keep your eyes peeled for future dates.

When the Name is Mightier than the Sword by Michael Angel

 “I use a pseudonym, because my real name is very difficult to pronounce, to remember, and to spell. And many people who have been talking about me on television have yet to pronounce it correctly.” – Jeff Gannon

Pen names intrigue most every author, and it’s not hard to understand why.  After all, we’re in a career where we’re encouraged to make everything up!

Over half the authors I know personally publish under more than one name (and not a few under several).  They do so for a large number of reasons, but I’ll discuss a few here:

1) Hide an identity.

The classic case of the ‘nom de plume’ is simply to shield the writer from undue attention.  In some cases, aspiring writers may not want to reveal their occupation to a ‘day job’ employer.  Or, they may work in a conservatively minded vocation and would be embarrassed to be caught writing risqué prose.

Example: In 1969, Jeffrey Hudson won the Edgar Award for Best Mystery while ‘moonlighting’ during his medical internship.  His real name?  Michael Crichton.

2) Hide a gender.

Depending on the time, place, or genre of work, it was simply easier to get published using a pseudonym, a cross-gender name, or gender-neutral initials. 

Example: George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers during the exquisitely gender-conscious Victorian era.  His (her) real name? Mary Anne Evans.

Bonus Example: I can personally attest that when pitching a murder mystery to a major New York editor, I was asked if I’d consider switching to a set of gender-neutral initials to hide my first name – being male could be a disadvantage.

3) Hide a work ethic.

There’s a prejudice that a prolific author is simply writing ‘slapdash’ fiction.  That anything that did not take five years of labor and enough elbow grease to lube a tractor will be a bad read.  Sure, some people won’t think this, but enough of them might…and they could be publishers, so…

Example: Too many to name, and I don’t have permission! 

4) Build credibility in a genre while protecting an alternate genre.

Often, an author establishes such a strong reputation in one genre when they want to cross over into another.  Or as a friend of mine once put it, “Imagine in Stephen King decided to write a Victorian romance.  With his name on the cover, you’d worry that your bodice ripper would turn out to be Jack the Ripper.” 

Example: Lots, one that comes to mind is horror-vampire writer Anne Rice, who wrote a rather explicit bondage-erotica series under the name A.N. Roquelaure.

5) Create an easy-to-remember ‘handle’ to their brand.

The ‘branding’ of a top-notch author sends the same signal as a strong brand of any product: the author want to build customer loyalty, not just sell product.  This has been a mainstay of modern publishing, and was discussed in superb detail by author Karen Abrahamson on her blog at:   This branding can take many forms:

Example: I chose my pseudonym for this reason, and two other on this list.  ‘Michael Angel’ is a relatively rare name, had no duplicates in the writing world, and is relatively easy to remember.

Bonus Example: Barnes & Noble bestseller Joshua Graham takes this concept a couple steps further.  First, he created a pseudonym that’s easy to remember, Second, it stays phonetically close to a modern bestseller: John Grisham.  And finally, he makes the point graphically on his book covers, using similar picture patterns, fonts, and shadings.

Are there any disadvantages to pseudonyms?

Well, unless you’re trying to do something illegal like defame someone ‘at a distance’ (bad idea), evade paying taxes (bad, bad idea) or lure in readers by copying a famous writer’s name (really bad idea), I can only think of a couple:

1) Diluting a writer’s impact.  Too many pen names without the ability to produce prolifically could limit the growth of one’s career. 

2) Limiting the ability to promote personally.  Say that you’re male, and you’ve written a series of bestsellers under a very female name – perhaps a persona complete with pictures and a separate identity.  Be prepared for odd looks at your book signing, to say the least.

3) If one of your main goals in writing it to see your name – your real, birth name – in print, consider how it’ll feel if you become famous under a name that isn’t yours.  Or worse, you become a best-seller under a name you loathe!

In the end, it’ll be up to each author to decide whether they want to publish under a nom de plume.  For some, their birth name is non-negotiable; with others, discarding it is a necessity.  Myself, I think a new name is more like a change of clothes.

Thank you for spending your time with me, enjoying this blog post.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go change into my non-fiction suit for the rest of this evening.

– Michael Angel

You can find Michael Angel, and all his latest works, including THE DETECTIVE & THE UNICORN, by clicking any of the links below!


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