Ask Daphne! What’s in a name?

S.L. asks:

If a writer publishes both fiction and memoir, and wants to publish all of her writing under one name, must she use her own name rather than a pseudonym? Or is it considered acceptable to write “memoir” with a nom de plume?

I’m not sure if there’s a hard and fast RULE about this, but I’m sure you’ve noticed the recent spate of memoirists outed for untruths and outright lies in their books (see: James Frey, Margaret Seltzer). Given this, and the pretty strict language in contracts about non-fiction, I would recommend using your own name for a memoir. Industry newshounds are on high alert about memoirs, and you don’t want to give off any scent of impropriety by hiding behind a fake name.
Pen names are more acceptable in fiction, I think, but if you want to write everything under the same name, just use your real name (or some form of it1) — it’s easier.

1By which I mean if your real name is Kate Schafer Testerman, for example, you could publish your memoir as “Kate Schafer” or “Kate Testerman” or pull from your middle, nick or other names and go with “Katie Elizabeth” or “Katie Daniels”, etc. (Yes, I have a lot of names.)

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