What’s in a name?

I’ve written under two names for years now, and yesterday I decided to add one more to my growing stable (my version of Pokemon Go!). As many do, I started writing under my own name, first for magazine articles back in the 90’s. Years later I decided to write a book on pre-Christian Northern European culture and present day manifestations (Northern Lore). That book was written under my pen name Eoghan Odinsson.

Eoghan is simply the Gaelic form of Hugh, and Odinsson is a tribute to Odin, god of knowledge and wisdom (and madnesss – yikes!) Most of my non-fiction is written under that name.

Genres and Demographics

So why did I do this? Mainly to tell readers what they could expect from my work, to differentiate the genres and demographics.

Genre is the type of story being told – Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, etc. Demographics, or Market segments, describe the structure of the population – usually referring to age groups.

Books for younger readers tend to be grouped by age regardless of the type of story. e.g. Early Readers, Chapter Books, Young Adult (YA). Each of those demographics could have stories about pirates, ghosts, spaceships, or family situations. As we get older, our reading preferences become more defined and we (arguably) benefit from having genre based groupings.

YA is the most prominent example of how genre and demographics can be blurred. Many adults prefer YA focused stories because they can have less overt sexual content, less profanity, etc. Not always.

People buying a historical romance are less likely to read a science fiction book by the same author – unless you’re a big name like Diana Gabaldon. Not that she’s written SF, but she is a scientist by training, so it could happen! (Paging Ms. Gabaldon!)

My son used to love R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. Would you shop for a book on physics or gender studies by Mr. Stine? Not likely. Though he is a talented man.

With a pen-name that reflects your target audience, readers come to know what to expect of your writing. Why do we like McDonalds? Because we know what to expect.

The Real Slim Shady

My literary identities are as follows: (with Facebook links)

  • Hugh B. Long (The original me) – my default name for journalism and all fiction to date.
  • Eoghan Odinsson – For my non-fiction dealing with pre-Christian history, culture, and mythology.
  • Hugh MacGregor – my newest pen name which I plan to use for Fantasy projects.
  • Hugh North – in reserve. I had planned to use it for modern Thrillers (and yes, I have a draft thriller written!)

All of my pen names and internet domains will point back to this website for simplicity.

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