July 20th, 2009


Pseudonyms, zombies, and a nice chainsaw: why Mira Grant?

We knew from the day we started shopping the Newsflesh trilogy that they would probably need to be published under an open pseudonym. There are a lot of reasons for that. The easiest to spot is "avoidance of over-saturating the market"—after all, as a relatively untried author, it's probably best if I not compete with myself.* Oddly, this isn't the biggest reason, just the first.

(*Before there's a general hue and cry of "but I'm planning to buy both," I should probably explain. I know that the readership of this journal is highly likely to buy both. This is one of the main reasons that I love you. The Internet readership I already have is a large portion of why we knew it would have to be an open pseudonym. It's the random bookstore browsers we're trying to avoid frightening away, the ones who won't know me from Adam until they get their hands on a copy of Rosemary and Rue or Feed.)

Genre separation is a much larger part of why I was happy to agree to writing under a pseudonym. Rosemary and Rue is fairy tale noir. It's dark, it's gritty, and it's occasionally brutal...but I would still hand it to a savvy teenager without fear that their parents would beat me to death with a baseball bat later. You could adapt the Toby books into PG-13 movies without gutting them. I won't cringe when I see high school students discussing them on my forums. Feed, on the other hand, is distopian political science fiction/horror. It has a high body count. There's gore, there's sex, there's bad language. I love it to death and consider it one of the best things I've ever written, but I so don't want you to buy it for your niece who loved Toby on the basis of my name alone. Putting a different author's name on the cover is a screaming neon sign that maybe the contents are also going to be different.

Do I expect the name to hurt sales? No. My publisher is savvy and good at what they do, and I'm really hoping this book will build a reasonable level of pre-release excitement, since it's going to be incredibly fun to do the viral marketing for. But I do expect it to make people pause and read the back cover before giving in to expectations.

So we knew I'd need a pseudonym, and after the trilogy sold to Orbit, they confirmed it. That meant we needed to pick one.

There are a lot of factors that go into selecting a good pseudonym. First off, it should be pronounceable (thus knocking my real name cheerfully from the running), and it should fall within the first half of the alphabet. That gets you a good spot on the shelf, which is important for catching the eye of the casual browser. People aren't tired of looking for something to read when they get to you. Who is Aaron Aardvark? Probably a best-seller. Your pseudonym shouldn't sound too much like the name of an author already working in your genre. We're not porn stars here. Calling myself "Maya Bone-hoff" or "Jane Hinds" isn't going to increase my sales, although it might get me slapped.

Your pseudonym should also be something you're willing to answer to in public, and don't hate. You should know what it means, since no one wants to choose "Variola Majors," thinking it's pretty, and discover later that they've just named themselves "smallpox." The Agent and I sat down and came up with a list of about twenty options, some mix-and-match, some not, all of which I was willing to live with (and all of which were somehow a complicated horror movie or television joke), and sent them to The Editor II. He gave us his preferences, we winnowed, we argued, and we settled on "Mira Grant."

"Mira" is an interesting name, in that it appears in a great many languages, always with a different meaning. The version I was looking at was from the Romany, meaning "little star." It isn't short for anything, despite its resemblance to "Miranda," and I will answer to it in public. Plus, since my real signature includes both a capital "M" and a capital "G", I shouldn't have issues during signings.

And that's why I am Mira Grant. First person to catch the horror movie in-joke in my pseudonym wins a prize (and if you already know, no hinting!).


So here's the thing.

I have three albums currently available. You can read about all three of them on my website's albums page. I'm very fond of all three. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, they each represent something different in my musical growth, and they each make me happy. Right now, only Red Roses and Dead Things is available through my website; the other two are available through CDBaby.com.

As of August 1st, Red Roses and Dead Things will be transitioning to CDBaby.com, and will no longer be available through my website.

There are a lot of reasons for this, and most of them have to do with time. I just don't have the time to monitor the order database, and people keep trying to order the other two albums, which requires even more time to unsnarl. So everything's being out-sourced, as part of an effort to save my sanity. Why am I announcing this? Well, because I'd rather not flood CDBaby right off the bat, thus forcing me to do still more mailing. So:

If you have been waiting to order Red Roses and Dead Things, now would be a good time. I commit to shipping all paid, pending orders during the first week of August, after which I will be contacting any unpaid pending orders, directing them to CDBaby, and deleting them from the system. The ordering system will then go down until we have to take pre-orders again.

So there's the thing. If you want to order Red Roses and Dead Things, now is a good time; it will be unavailable for the first week of August, while the transition is going on. Thank you for understanding.

Monday review roundup.

It's Monday—a new week, and one week closer to the release of Rosemary and Rue—and I thought it might be good to provide another review roundup. Because I can. Also because it means I can just hit the "reviews" tag and see all my reviews on one clear page. I love the LJ tagging feature. I would go mad without it. Anyway...

thedalikiss was fabulous enough to post a lovely mini-review in the 100 or More Books community. This is because she's a wonderful human being. Yay!

The equally wonderful HagelRat posted a thoughtful and well-reasoned review over on her blog, thus delighting me entirely. It makes me happy when I see people post reviews. I'm a cheap date, I know.

Harriet posted her review in several places, including Worlds of Wonder. Her review provided my "happy blondes are happy, and just don't destroy North America" quote for today, namely:

"ROSEMARY AND RUE is a winner in a sub-genre that has been butchered recently with zillions of imitations."

Pardon me while I die of happy. And that's our Monday review roundup!