Monday, October 24, 2011

Questions from the mailbag

Hi Inkpot Bloggers and readers,
Here are some questions sent to the Inkpot mailbag. If you have answers, please post!

Best regards,
The Inkpot Administrator

First question:
Pen names/pseudonyms. When to use, when to avoid? I publish both for teens/adults (PG 13 and up), and younger kiddos. A previous advisor suggested I use a pseudonym for one of these groups. Because, for example, if Dave Pilkey started writing bodice-ripping romance novels, young Pilkey fans might get ahold of them by mistake, and librarians might become skeptical of Pilkey's appropriateness even in his fiction for kids (Captain No-Underpants?). What do you think? Sincerely, Dave Pilkey (no, not really)

Next question:
Hi Inkpotters: In my notes from this past summer [Hamline] residency is a quote from either a lecture or a workshop session (it's listed on a page of quotes that I keep, so there's no context)--it's a great quote but I failed to include who said it and I"m hoping some Inkpotter out there will know. The quote is: "Fiction is emotion made visible." Any idea who belongs to this quote? Thanks in advance for any info you might have. Gail Israel

Third and final question:
Hello. I'm a middle school teacher looking for leveled texts on dystopia/utopia. Our base book is The Giver and many of my students are around a 3rd or 4th grade reading level....I've been looking for picture books or at least lower leveled books, but to no avail. Just wondering if you have any suggestions?
Thanks! Michelle


  1. For question asker 3, check out You can enter a title (The Giver) or a topic/theme (dystopia) and ask for comparable books at different reading levels.

  2. Thoughts on the first question: Jane Yolen touched on this issue when she spoke at the Hamline residency. She writes in multiple genres, all under her own name and expressed frustration with the market's response of wanting to be able to pigeonhole each book neatly into a slot based solely on her name. One thing to consider would be the logistics of follow-up marketing of multiple names. Would each name have it's own website? Would your photo/bio change? If you go to speak or sign books somewhere, would you only be promoting one group of books at a time? Do the advantages of the multiple names offset the extra work to maintain them? The answer is probably different for every author.

  3. I believe Kelly Easton told me she considered doing this. Will contact her and report back. And will send out email to faculty about the brilliant quote: "Fiction is emotion made visible."

  4. Dear "Dave Pilkey,-Not-Really,"

    Your question haunts me, and I can't help but think about Jackie's post and, particularly, Mary Logue's response about self-censorship. Without being all Freudian, (and I'm sure there are marketing reasons for a pseudonym), why deny your own work? No one else can write the story but you. So, why deny it? Write what you're led to write. Though I'm the only unpublished blogger here, my gut says to let the publishers/agents/experts worry about the choice to publish under a pseudonym (though, I understand you also have a say in that decision). A close friend once asked if I'd ever considered publishing chick lit. under a pseudonym. I said that I hadn't yet published under my own name. All any of us can do is write a story. Leave the rest to those who wish to "brand" you. M.T. Anderson writes YA and PBs--and obviously tackles different subject matter. But, if I were you, I'd think about this: what do you gain and what do you lose by writing under a pseudonym? The decision seems distracting from your real work--the writing. Write what you're led to. That's the best any of us can do. That's what we all know.