When I published the first book under Anna J. McIntyre, Lessons (now Coulson’s Lessons), people asked me why I was using a pen name.
I don’t think I was ever truly honest with them—or myself—as to why I decided to write under a nom de plume. But now, almost seven years later, I think I have a better understanding as to why I actually made that decision. I was afraid.
It’s a little scary putting yourself out there. Back then I didn’t have the benefit of beta readers telling me they enjoyed or hated the book. To be honest, only a couple people had ever read Lessons before I hit the publish button, and they were close family members who probably weren’t the most objective readers.
Of course, back then I told people I wanted to keep books written by Anna J. McIntyre separate from the non-fiction I had written under my own name—which were only a couple books with limited appeal.
I don’t have any regrets about writing my Anna J. McIntyre books under a pseudonym. However, I do regret choosing THAT pen name.
How did I come up with Anna J. McIntyre? It was simple really, Anna for my middle name, Ann—J for my maiden name Johnson—and McIntyre, a surname from my family tree.
Before finalizing the pseudonym, I checked Amazon, to make sure there were no other authors with that name. There weren’t. Unfortunately, I failed to Google “Anna J. McIntyre.” Had I done that, I would have discovered an artist by that name. It was a novice mistake on my part, and one I didn’t discover until long after I started writing under the pseudonym.
I have always felt guilty for hijacking Anna J. McIntyre’s name. While my J stands for Johnson, hers stands for Jane.
A cautionary tale for other authors—thoroughly vet your pseudonym.
For those who would like to meet the original Anna J. McIntyre, here is her website.