I was really delighted to be invited to be an Editor with Pink Heart Society and write a monthly column for them. Not least because I’ve spent the last few years reading this blog and hopefully learning from it.
Almost exactly one year ago I got The Call. On 21st January at 1.34pm. Not that it is engrained in my brain or anything. The chance to join the medical authors that I’d always read was a dream come true. And so started my life as a published author.
For the last year I have been on a steep learning curve. I’ve learned a whole host of things that I didn’t even realise I needed to know. And that’s what I plan to share.
So where to start? Let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start. Are you all singing yet?
What happens when you get The Call? Well, one of the first thing that happens is your editor wants to know what name you’re going to publish your story under.
Lots of people use their real name, many others publish under a pseudonym. I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. Some other would-be authors have already picked their pseudonyms and set up their websites and blogs. I had done the obligatory google search and amazon search under my own name and found another author published in the US – and unfortunately she wrote romance! I spoke to my editor about this and she investigated a little further and came back and told me I’d need to pick a pseudonym.
Easier said than done.
Why? You have to check no-one else is published under the name. Another author signed before me had to add an initial into her name to differentiate her from someone using the same name. The name has to be acceptable for translations as Harlequin Mills & Boon stories are sold all over the world. Should you pick a name that puts you at the beginning of the alphabet? How close is the name to your own – because people might actually call you that name and you have to remember to answer to it! And more importantly your editor has the final say! They might tell you they already have too many other authors with the same first name. One other Mills and Boon author told me suggested 11 pseudonyms before they finally agreed on one!
So I drew up a shortlist and my family and workmates voted on it.
Where did they come from? Don’t ask. No, honestly don’t. Some of the names I just liked. One is the name my mother wanted to call me when I was born. Another is an amalgamation of my children’s names. One surname is my own, the other my partners.
And do you see a theme emerging? Scarlet, Ruby, Poppy – yes, I’m a big fan of the colour red.
And the winner was?
Scarlet Bain. And was I allowed to use it? No. It apparently sounded like a lady of the night. I was asked to use my own surname Wilson as it sounded more ‘wholesome’. So I became Scarlet Wilson. And now I quite like it. I’ve liked becoming Scarlet and it means I have an excuse to wear a lot of red at any author things I go to.
So think carefully about your writing name. It can also become the name your work is copyrighted under.
And remember, even though you might have a shiny blog under your chosen pseudonym you might be asked to change it!
So, do you write under your own name? Or have you already picked a pseudonym and where did it come from? And would you be willing to change?