Method to the (Pen Name) Madness

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In an earlier post, I was talking about how discussing pen names in a query letter is a sign of "Thinking Too Far Ahead" syndrome - a phrase eloquently coined by Evil Editor.

Today, I got a lesson in pen names from mystery author P.J. Parrish, and I thought I'd pass on some entertaining info.

Parrish said that the key to picking a successful pen name, should you ever get to that point where yoy truly need one, is a three-step process:

1. Pick a cool-sounding name, as Mr. Pink would say. "P.J. Parrish" is a pseudonym, and it's pretty cool-sounding.
2. Choose a name that will put your fiction work next to high-profile authors alphabetically. With the last name "Parrish," she has her work right next to James Patterson. Not a bad deal! (Parrish has been writing for 11 years and did not choose the name for that reason; however, she says this is indeed a reality of selecting a pseudonym.)
3. Visit several bookstores and start to get a feel for what last name would have the likeliest probability of getting your books at eye level. Good one! It makes perfect sense.

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