Scenario: You are a fairly new audiobook narrator who is trying to build a portfolio of quality titles. Out of the blue, you get an offer to narrate something a bit out of your wheelhouse. Something that doesn’t align with your current portfolio. But you need the money, right? You don’t want to turn down solid paying work, but you don’t want your name associated with it…
What to do?
Introducing the Pseudonym! Nom de vox. Fake name. Whatever you want to call it, a pseudonym offers a bit of protection for your real name, while allowing you to do off-portfolio titles such as erotica, romance, or political.
A word of caution: A pseudonym offers only a modicum of privacy. Always choose a pseudonym with the assumption that you will eventually be “outed.” It almost always happens. If you absolutely cannot afford for this to happen (like you work for the CIA or something), then it may be in your best interest to not do those titles at all.
Choosing to use a pseudonym is a personal choice. Some people have more to shield than others. With that said, here are some reasons why you may want to consider a pseudonym.
1) You have young kids. The last thing you want is to show up at the PTA meeting and have someone wonder if it really was you who did that erotica audiobook. While most people won’t really care beyond the novelty of the topic, it’s probably something best avoided.
2) Religious concerns. Heading off the church or temple? Same reasons as above. Might be best to avoid any weird looks or awkward conversations over coffee hour or the next church potluck.
Obviously, those reasons are for protection of your personal life. This is the number one reason people decide to use a pseudonym.
3) The title goes against your political leanings. This crops up fairly often. A narrator accepts an offer for a title without realizing that the content put forth is in direct contrast to the narrator’s personal beliefs. But again, who wants to turn down good money? And the book will be produced, so there’s no point in “boycotting” the title. Many audiobook narrators use a pseudonym so they do the title, but not have anyone think that the title reflects their personal beliefs.
4) The title is “off-brand.” I’m not a huge fan of “branding” for audiobook narrators. I think it’s a mostly pointless effort done for the ego of the narrator (Wow, harsh much, Jeff?). But if your brand is of concern to you, and you get a title that doesn’t quite fit with what you’re trying to accomplish, then consider using a pseudonym. E.g. You position yourself as a stellar non-fiction narrator who happens to get a one-off Amish romance (Don’t laugh, they are crazy popular), you might consider a pseudonym going forward for fiction vs nonfiction work.
There are plenty of reasons to use a pseudonym and they all boil to down needing/wanting some personal distance between your own name and that which you narrate under. Choosing to go this route is a very personal decision that should not be made lightly. I strongly recommend female narrators talk to other women who use pseudonyms and get their feedback and input. They will have lots of information and perspectives that I, as a man, don’t have.
So go forth and speak words! While not offering perfect protection, pseudonyms allow an audiobook narrator to take on more work without having to lose sleep over soiling their hard-earned personal or professional reputation.
Coming up in a future post – Pseudonyms Part 2: Putting That Pseudonym to Use.
Be sure to listen in to the full article narrated by Jeffrey Kafer!
About the Author
Jeffrey Kafer is a full-time SAG-AFTRA audiobook narrator and consultant. He has narrated over 500 books in almost every genre for such authors Clive Barker, Steve Alten, Maya Banks, Gregg Olsen and many others. He has 2 degrees in cinema and broadcasting and spent the first part of his career as a video game tester for Microsoft before following his true passion of acting. He’s been on stage since he was 13 (his mom still has the bellhop costume she made) and currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and dog. Visit him at http://audiobookmentor.com or checkout his audiobooks at http://audible.com/