Novelista Annie Burrows takes a highly idiosyncratic stroll through the A-Z of the writer's life.
Starting with A is for...
Well, Author, obviously! Nothing beats the feeling of getting that call from a publisher, saying that they want your work. (Or not much, anyway).
Only, the minute you become an Author, you have to start making a lot of decisions. Like, for instance, should you take a pen name?
And if you do, how do you choose it?
I knew right from the start I didn't want to write under my own name. I value my privacy, you see. When I write that best seller, I don't want to be staked out by paparazzi who've discovered where I live...(delusions of grandeur? Moi?)
And so I informed the lovely, intelligent woman who'd recognized the brilliance of my first book that yes, I did want to write under a pseudonym.
And how did I want to be known?
Christy Kendrick, I replied. (Christy was my sister's pet name for me, and Kendrick my grandmother's maiden name, and I thought it had a kind of ring to it. As though it should belong to a writer of historical romance. I'd even opened a new email account for my fan mail as christyk...)
There was a brief silence on the other end of the phone.
Then, "Well, we already have a Kendrick writing for Mills & Boon, and we don't want readers to get confused. But as soon as you've come up with something else, we will send out a contract."
Mild panic ensued. If I didn't come up with a pen name they liked, would they change their minds about offering me a contract?
Hurriedly, I wrote a list of about half a dozen names I thought might work. (Including Sue Kray, which is the Anglicized version of sucrée, or, "The sweet lady" which was what I was used to being called in my job as merchandiser for jelly babies)
It was the editorial team at Mills & Boon who selected the name of Annie Burrows out of the list I sent them. Which I suggested because Anne is my middle name, and Burrows is my married name.
So writer me still feels like a part of "real life" me.
(Although when I went to my first conference as a published writer, and people asked me what my name was, I had to look at my name badge to check!)
I'm more used to being Annie now. Annie the Author. It has a nice, alliterative ring.
Although later on, I discovered the way I should have picked my author name. People who know what they are doing advise you to consider where you might get put on the shelves, when picking your author name, to maximise your earning potential. Early in the alphabet is good, for readers who browse in alphabetical order. Or late, for those who browse in reverse alphabetical order. Or next to someone really famous in your field, so that people pick up your book while they're looking for someone else.
So I should have been something beginning with H (for Georgette Heyer fans).
Hey, ho. Life is one long learning curve.
And next month I will be sharing what else I've learned since I've become a published author.
Something beginning with B...
Annie's latest book, Portrait of a Scandal is available now from Amazon UK