Ought to I exploit a pseudonym? Carole Wolfe on writing beneath a pseudonym

What did Lewis Carrol, Mark Twain and Dr. Seuss together? They all wrote under a pseudonym.

These are some pretty big names, so a writer really wonders: Should I use a pseudonym?

What's in a pseudonym?

We're doing two interviews this month because the write practice community has been a publishing machine lately!

Carole Wolfe comes first. She has just published the latest book in her womens fiction series. She also lives a double life. (Dun, dun, duuunnn!)

Carole writes under a pseudonym. She's here to talk about why, when, and how to use a pseudonym (and she's also got some tips for self-publishing).

What is a pseudonym?

A pseudonym A fictitious name used in your professional writing career instead of your legal name.

There are several reasons to consider one. Data protection and writing in different genres are the main reasons.

I have also heard of writers who use it when their real name is difficult to pronounce, when it comes too close to that of another author, or when they think their name does not fit their genre.

Unfortunately, escaping prejudices of various forms is still one of the most common reasons to use a pseudonym. (I even considered using a pseudonym because I am a woman who writes in a "male" genre. In the end, I decided that everyone can only deal with this fact and I use my real name.)

Okay, now that we're on the same page, we're coming to Carole!

Meet Carole Wolfe

Carole Wolfe started telling stories in third grade and hasn't stopped since. While she no longer uses crayons to illustrate her stories, Carole still uses her words to help readers escape the daily hiccups of life. Her debut novella, The Best Mistake, follows a single mother who stumbles through one mishap after another.

When Carole is not writing, she is a mother who stays at home for three busy children, a traveling husband and a dog who thinks she is a cat. Carole likes to walk leisurely, crochet baby blankets for charity and drink wine when she has time. She and her family live in Texas.

It's ALL OVER social media, but you can connect to your profiles (and get a free story!) Through their website.

Get to know Carole's work

Hello Carole! This interview took a long time! I was so glad you published the second book in your series, My Best Decision, last week. Can you tell me something about the book and the My Best range in general?

So happy to be here! I have been in writing practice for more than four years and look forward to sharing what I have learned.

My best decision follows Sara Shaw, a reliable lawyer who excels at her work but is burdened by her family. Her OCD tendencies overwhelm her when the swimmer who stole her sister's husband causes trouble. Sara jeopardizes her stable reputation by jumping before looking, and then has to figure out how to redeem herself with a handsome new lawyer emerging in the city. She has to decide whether to strike alone or to play the loyal girl from her hometown.

The My Best series is women's literature that will make you smile. The carefree books should be read quickly so that the reader can escape everyday life. It's the journey of how the characters deal with a little romance and a few laughs who deal with the daily hiccups in life.

Why use a pseudonym?

You use a pseudonym when writing. I often get questions from authors about using pseudonyms. Some recent authors believe that being a writer is a requirement, which is not true. However, there are many reasons to choose one! Why did you choose to write under a pseudonym?

It's not a requirement, but there are many good reasons to use a pseudonym. I chose one for several reasons.

My real name is quite common and there are already some writers of the same name. The pseudonym offers a certain separation between my real life and my writing life. I have the flexibility to add a pseudonym if I decide to change the genre.

And frankly, it's fun to become someone else!

Choosing a pseudonym requires some consideration

How did you choose your pseudonym?

My pseudonym reminds me of my grandmother. She died long before I published anything, but she always told people that one day I would be famous. I'm not sure if I have to be famous, but I appreciate their support and belief in me!

Side note: It's good to think about a pseudonym for a while before choosing one. Consider the genre you write in and how easy it is to spell the name.

Although I love my pseudonym, I didn't think Wolfe might not be the best name for women's literature. A name like Goodwin or Sweet is not so optimistic. And I chose names that can be written in different ways. I always tell people it's Carole with an e!

About a "double life"

I think the biggest problem with pseudonyms is how often the name itself is used. Here at The Write Practice, we usually ask people to use their pseudonyms in everything they do in public. Basically you live under your pseudonym. Do you do that? Do you mind if people know your real name? Is it difficult to keep your real name and pseudonym separate?

This is great advice and I wish I had done it from the start. I only chose a pseudonym after I started The Write Practice, so you can find me under my real name in the pro workshops.

Outside of writing practice, I live "under my pseudonym". I have a separate email address and social media accounts for my pseudonym, and obviously my author website reflects my pseudonym. I keep my real self as far as possible from my pseudonym. I don't mind people knowing my real name, but for marketing purposes it is important to stay consistent.

It takes some planning to keep things separate, but it's not that difficult. It took me a month or two to get used to signing emails with my pseudonym, but after that it was pretty normal.

It gets a little more complicated if you have multiple pseudonyms and manage the websites and social media accounts that are associated with each name. Before setting up multiple pseudonyms, make sure you consider why you are doing this. It is possible to use the same pseudonym in different related genres like action and thriller. However, if you deviate from romance to write horror, a second pseudonym is required.

Carole's self-publishing trip

You have now published two books yourself and published a free short story on your website. Can you tell me something about your trip to self-publishing? Why did you choose self-publishing and how has it been for you so far?

I've always wanted to be a published author and originally thought traditional publishing was the only way. I quickly realized that I had neither the patience nor the inclination to wait for someone to pick me up. So I followed Seth Godin's advice and chose myself.

After I decided to publish myself, it was a slow but steady journey. Like everyone else, I have a family and other commitments so I can't spend as much time writing as I want. I make sure that I have something to do with writing every day, even if it only takes a few minutes.

An important thing for me was to set annual writing goals and review them regularly, at least once a month. I don't achieve everything I set out to do, but they give me focus and something I can work towards daily, weekly and monthly.

What is your top self-publishing tip?

Take good notes. I have a master document that contains things like ISBN numbers, pricing information, keywords and print size. You won't remember all this stuff and need it more than you think. Write it down, print it out and save it!

About the balancing act of the self-published writer

How much time do you devote to marketing, website maintenance, etc. (all the things related to self-publishing)? How do you balance that with writing?

I write before I do anything else. Whatever my daily goal (a certain number of words, a draft chapter, etc.), I make sure that this is done before any other self-publishing activities. Not only do I prefer to write, I also know that if the words are not written, I have nothing to market. Writing time varies from 30 minutes to a few hours on a good day!

With regard to all things that go into self-publication, I designate certain blocks for my activities. On Sundays, I spend a few hours creating and monitoring ads and writing blog posts and newsletters. On Thursdays, I take an hour to post and respond to social media. On Fridays I reserve 30 minutes for financial matters (i.e. pay bills).

Unless I publish a book or change content on my website, I spend about an hour or a month maintaining the website. That being said, I spent eight hours last weekend adding new forms and swapping books and files for a new email automation series.

Other things – like working with a designer for a book cover, a narrator in an audio book, or an editor for developing or editing text – take time, but this time is usually spread over a few weeks.

Around the start time I spend a lot of time formatting the books and uploading them for publication. I use parchment that is easy to use, but it takes time to check and check the formatting.

Then it takes time to upload all the different files to the different retailers. I am broad and use Draft2Digital as an aggregator, but I still spend most of a working day uploading covers and files to Amazon, Kobo, Ingram Spark, and Google. A soothing background music soundtrack is key!

Last writing tips

Any other writing tips you'd like to share?

Keep writing first, even on days when nothing seems to be working.

Second, maintain friendships with other writers. The writers here in The Write Practice are incredible and I'm lucky enough to call many of them friends. I trust that they will give me feedback and tell me when I screw it up – which I do regularly.

Writing is an individual activity, but it's a lot more fun and a lot easier if you have friends who can help you.

Choose your pseudonym wisely

Should you use a pseudonym? If you are seriously considering a pseudonym, take the time to think about it. Choosing a pseudonym is not easy.

Once you've set your professional name, it will be very difficult to change to a different name if you suddenly find that you no longer like it. And remember, as Carole said, most of the time you have to "live" under this name so you like it better!

Many thanks to Carole for agreeing to speak to me! Here you can find her current book and don't forget to visit her website!

Have you ever thought about a pseudonym? Which name would you choose and why? Let me know in the comments!


For today's practice seeet a timer for 15 minutes and write to the following prompt:

The name of an employee you have worked with for years is not the name. How do you find out? How do you feel about it? Why does this person have a different identity?

Don't forget to share your letter the comments. And give your co-authors some love by commenting on their writing!

Sarah Gribble

Sarah GribbleSarah Gribble is the best-selling author of dozens of short stories that examine uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She is currently boiling out more ways to freak you out and work on a novel.

Follow her @sarahstypos or sign up for free in her email list at https://sarah-gribble.com.