In Favour of Pseudonyms

Listening to: Hurricane – Panic at the Disco


In my long break ( /block) from writing, I’ve tried to keep up journalling and reading. I even started reviewing books, rather than just gushing or more often ranting about whatever I read at the time. I’ve been pretty open about my opinions. I’ve made mistakes, such as not realising that wordcount is a stat that is required to be mentioned for a book from submission all the way to marketplace. And I am either well-acquainted with the people who hear me (my husband and mother-in-law both subscribe to my blog) or comfortable within a void of other subscribers who almost never comment and a fair percentage are probably bots or people who subscribed me in the hopes that they’d get another number for their own website.

While we all of us want recognition, I realise that I live in a remarkably privileged place. I have free reign to say and do what I like. I can start and stop projects at my own will, without even fear of censure from followers. My reviews do not need to meet a consistent quality, length, or journalistic excellence. Not that anyone’s unpaid reviews have to do that, but I have again, zero fear that I will even be told that I wrote even mildly irritated someone.

No one has ever stalked me because I hated their book. No one ever comment-bombed me for making a mistake. No one has hit me with a DDoS attack. I think I’ve only “lost” followers because my blog was dead for a while, or people closed their own accounts. Nothing unreasonable.

Nothing scary has happened to me on the internet. Not really.

I’ve been using my name on Goodreads. Technically, since I haven’t changed my name after marriage and I go by my middle name, it’s not my “real” legal name. But it’s the name that I use in my very real life. After reading Kathleen Hale’s creepy, sinister article on the Guardian, I changed my name on Goodreads to my moniker here, cookiemonger. I intend to continue writing reviews, because so far, I still enjoy an amazing amount of anonymity and freedom on GR, and it’s the best way I’ve found to talk to myself about books when real life conversations tend to get weirdly cut off.

But sometimes when I plan a series or work on a book, a stray thought enters my head. I would like to send queries to Carina Press, or at least self-publish on KDP. If I use my name and Goodreads account as an author, do I have to stop writing reviews? Do I have to delete the ones I have written?

A lot of the books I read are under the radar, classic, or their moments have passed. If I were to read a huge hit like, say, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I don’t think I’d read it until at least a year or two after publication. It’s just a weird thing that comes about. The last time I preordered a book, I didn’t read it until almost a year after I got it. I get Kindle First books and I still haven’t read any of them. I am that crazy person who reads their TBR list from the bottom or the middle, and so doing knocks the whole pile over to be reshuffled and some books may never get read.

More and more, I see reviewers get attacked by authors and their friends, both real and tin-pot army, but the absolute worst of the vitriol seems to be saved up for the reviewers who dare to think of writing their own book. It’s so bad that I wouldn’t be surprised to see a successfully self-published author sneer at them for self-publishing rather then submitting to Harper Collins. Hypocrisy, butt-hurt asshattery… You’d think they’d be too busy writing.

If this is the atmosphere I have to live in, then I think I’m definitely going with a pseudonym. Self pub or traditional.



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