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Let’s E-Publish a Book
Step Two: My New Name
Charles Atkins
Okay, I’ve decided to
E-Publish my novel GO TO HELL, a just-written urban fantasy.  My next thought is to do this under a pen
name.  Why?  Here goes, first this book is a new genre for
me–urban fantasy.  GO TO HELL is a Faustian
tale with a variety of supernatural beings, including Lucifer and a sexy pair
of succubae.  It’s quite a departure from
my previous real-world mysteries and thrillers.
I’ve also done a couple
non-fiction books where I–or probably the publisher–decided to leave the MD
at the end of my name.  Charles Atkins,
MD made perfect sense for books on Bipolar Disorder, Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  And Charles Atkins was fine for mysteries and
thrillers.  Also, back in the day
(sometime last month) when thinking about bookstore shelving was important,
having a name begin with A was good.
But first let’s be
frank…or Sheila, or Harry, there are other reasons for me to pick a nom de
plume.  They all apply to varying degrees.  Charles Atkins is not a bestseller.  This does matter in the world of publishing.  It’s tremendously important in traditional
publishing where your advance, and whether or not someone is even willing to
take a risk on your next book has everything to do with your sales
numbers.  So even if I weren’t looking to
e-publish it’s not unusual for a mid-list author to pick a new name in an
effort to re-start a career.  Like wiping
the slate clean.  Sure, Charles Atkins
isn’t a best seller, but maybe Germaine Floxbottom will be.
Next, there’s the
matter of the content of the new book.  While
primarily an entertaining read; it’s also a parable and contains quite a bit of
social commentary.  GO TO HELL is a fun
look at the whorish nature of the relationship between physicians and the drug
companies.  It’s the story of a doctor
selling out the human race for profit.
In his case, it’s with the best of intentions, but the result is the
same.  In truth, doctors are heavily
influenced by the big pharmaceutical companies.
Ethical boundaries are crossed and no one seems to notice, or if they
do, it’s rapidly dismissed with–“it’s in the patient’s best interest”
or “just because I go to the free dinner, sporting event, show…Caribbean
cruise loosely disguised as a continuing education event, doesn’t mean my medical
decisions are being influenced”.
Right, so what does this have to do with my name?  While a smaller point, I do think the book’s
content can create a distraction for my day job.  And so the nom-de-plume offers a separation
between me the author and me the doctor.
I don’t see a
tremendous downside to using a pen name.
I guess you don’t get the same ego rush from seeing your name on the
book jacket–or whatever it’s now called on an e-book.  I think that’s a small thing.  And yes, there is something to be said for
your grandmother leaving copies of your book scattered around her apartment for
all her friends to see, but I’ve had that experience.  It was great.
It’s time to move on.
And now to pick the new
name.  Some have recommended I go with an
anagram of Charles Atkins.  Unfortunately
Larches Skinta, Carl Shetkains, Harel Catskins etc aren’t doing it for me.  So…what I’ve chosen is an amalgam of family
names.  My Dad’s in particular.  He doesn’t use his first name–Jaspard.  I think it’s rather groovy, and for urban
fantasy it’s got a slightly freakish edge.
So I’m taking Jaspard and combining it with my mother’s maiden
name–Marks.  There we go, I’m now a new
person, or at least a new author or…whatever.
GO TO HELL by Jaspard Marks, that should work.
As a psychiatrist I
don’t want to over think what it means to rename yourself.  Or worse still, split myself into two
people.  Maybe a better context is to
think of this as starting a new business or product line.  There’s Charles Atkins, Charles Atkins, MD,
and now–new for 2012–Jaspard Marks.