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Thursday Midday Links: Female Writer Moves to Pen Name to Appeal...

Men won’t read women writers but are apparently can be fooled into thinking a female writer is a man through the clever [sarcasm] use of initials.


  • Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Stronger than Sin by Caridad Pineiro * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Forget Me Not with Bonus Material by Elizabeth Lowell * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Lover in the Rough with Bonus Material by Elizabeth Lowell * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Remember Summer with Bonus Material by Elizabeth Lowell * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Leaving Before It’s Over with Bonus Excerpt by Jean Reynolds Page * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Spy Who Left Me by Gina Robinson * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Matter of Honor by Jeffrey Archer * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Jaded by Karen Tabke * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Good Girl Gone Bad by Karen Tabke * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S – I thought this was a terrible book but at this price you can buy it and see if you agree with me.
  • A Hard Man to Love by Kathleen Lawless * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Erotic Secrets of a French Maid by Lisa Cach * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Monster High by Lisa Harrison * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Borgia Betrayal by Sarah Poole * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Sex, Lies & Secret Lives by Thea Devine * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Game For Anything by Bella Andre * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Game for Seduction by Bella Andre * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Red Hot Reunion by Bella Andre * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Janine
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 12:14:21

    Although it’s been years and years since I read it, I remember liking The Prodigal Daughter. It’s a sequel to Archer’s bestselling saga Kane and Abel, about Abel’s daughter who marries his rival Kane’s son. I don’t know how it would read without reading Kane and Abel first since I read them in order, but it’s quite romantic (though not a romance) and the heroine eventually becomes President of the United States.

    Some aspects aren’t entirely believable (she’s a democrat, her husband is a republican, and yet she becomes the VP candidate of her party, for example) and you could probably tell reading it now that it was written by an English former Member of Parliament in a different political era, but I still enjoyed it enough to reread more than once all those years ago.

  2. JacquiC
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 12:35:40

    WOW. I clicked on those Bella Andre titles and the kindle price (in Canada) is showing at $17 (for one) and $19 for another. What the heck?? No way would I ever pay that much for these.

  3. LG
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 12:36:25

    Re: Shona MacLean (or S G MacLean) – I thought the author’s concern that her original readers wouldn’t realize she had another book out if the name on the cover didn’t match was a valid one – I sometimes miss seeing a book by an author I like if the style of the cover art suddenly changes, and a name change seems a little more major than that.

    I wonder what “the name change seems to be working well” really means. Did they somehow get stats on how many men versus women bought her books and spot an increase in the number of men who bought them? Or was it just that her sales increased, and they have no idea how many men versus women bought them and are just assuming that the name change led to more men buying them? Aside from all of that, I’m wondering why the change was even necessary. The article said that her first three books were successful, so it’s not like her sales under “Shona MacLean” were bad.

  4. JacquiC
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 12:40:14

    Actually, I’m getting the same kind of crazy high prices with a number of the titles you listed. Are prices in Canada increasing in inverse proportion to prices in the US? I am continually disappointed that many of the deals you refer to don’t seem to be available to those of us who live outside the US (which is not your fault, of course).

  5. JoanneL
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 13:28:50

    @LG: Yes to all you said. I’m also a bit confused about how Crucible is more attractive (as a title) to male readers then Crucible of Secrets. Then there’s the fact that when I see CRUCIBLE I think Arthur Miller.

    Not for nuthin’ but I have always loved the name Caridad Pineiro. Her books have been hit or miss for me but the name gives me name-envy.

  6. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 13:39:23

    @JacquiC and@LG: The link in the post appears to be pulling the trade paperback edition rather than the Kindle edition. Red Hot Reunion came up at $18-something here in the US store, but the Kindle edition (which is one of the format options in the box below the title and price) is $3.99.

  7. Lynne
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 14:07:33

    @Jackie Barbosa: Nope, the ridiculous. Prices are for the Kindle version. The paper versions are cheaper ( Game for Anything is just over $11.00 in Canada). I haven’t checked to see what Kobo is doing.

  8. Isobel Carr
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 14:39:06

    @JacquiC: They don’t have Kindle books on, so I’m not sure what you’re seeing.

    On the name change front, my godmother’s editor said the same exact thing back in the 80s about historical fiction. Hence her books came out under Damion Hunter. Sad to see that the issue (or the perception of it) hasn’t changed.

  9. Susan
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 14:49:58

    @Janine: Thanks for this. I read many of Archer’s books back in the day but, sadly, don’t remember much about them. When I saw some were sale-priced (thanks, Jane!), I gave them as gifts to my mother. I didn’t occur to me to get copies for myself ’til you reminded me how good they were. But I’m holding off on Kand & Abel in the hope that the $9.99 price will come down.

    I did read Archer’s prison diaries (the first 2, but not the third) and found them interesting. They might be worth a revisit at some point in the future, too.

  10. library addict
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 14:55:32

    I keep seeing the same Archer titles on sale. Waiting for my faves by him are Kane & Abel and Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less to do so.
    @Janine: I liked The Prodigal Daughter as well.

    Isn’t the “will boys read it” factor the reason Rowling used her initials, too? Such a sad statement about our society that girls/women grow up regularly reading male authors and the reverse isn’t true.

  11. SueCCCP
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 15:20:46

    I find it so sad that people have to hide their gender to sell books in certain genres. So ‘Shona MacLean’ is too feminine? It isn’t like she’s called Fluffy McPink Sparkly-Unicorn!

  12. Jackie Barbosa
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 15:23:20

    @SueCCCP: Oh, I think Fluffy McPink Sparkly-Unicorn would probably have been okay. She would have appealed to the Brony set then.

  13. Liz Mc2
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 15:32:00

    @Isobel Carr: Amazon sees all and knows all. Including where we/our devices live. When we visit from Canada to view Kindle books, they often show us our very own special prices on those books. And not in a good way. (This is, of course, a digital rights issue, not an Amazon issue).

  14. Isobel Carr
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 15:59:07

    @Liz Mc2: Well that is full of suck!

  15. Nikki
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 16:31:56

    I am not surprised that the sweet spot starts at 2.99. I am also much more willing to give a new author a try at that range than the 7 to 10 minus a penny option. :) My sister recently purchased a Kindle Fire and her primary complaint is how short many of the books are. her complaint is how do you even tell the story in 12 pages. Then how do you have the nerve to charge $2.99 or more.

  16. Darlynne
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 18:19:47

    So many scifi/fantasy writers have used initials or pen names over the years. Was it just a rumor that a diehard fan stopped reading his up-to-then favorite writer when he learned she was female? Plus ça change

    @JoanneL: Yes, her name is quite melodious, but I’ll take Angelina Ballerina.

  17. Lil
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 20:00:04

    I thought the item about Shona MacLean was interesting. I remember discovering some years ago that mystery writer Sally Spencer, who writes 1950s procedurals about Cloggin’ It Charlie, was actually a man. Apparently his agent and his editor thought it was easier to sell mysteries written by a woman.

  18. Carrie
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 20:22:57

    Can men really be this dumb? First, they won’t buy a female author, then they’re actually fooled into buying the female author by a change to initials? *shakes head* Some of my husband’s favorite writers are females, even in hard-core science fiction. Sometimes I think I’m married to the only non-misogynistic man alive.

  19. Kaetrin
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 20:26:56

    @Janine: Yes, I remember very fondly the Kane & Abel and Prodigal Daughter books. I still remember how when William (?I think his name was William) met Florentyna she was going under the name of Jesse and his later reaction to the B side of Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly (Jesse) and that poignant bit later on where he again references the name. They were both pretty good general fiction books back when I read them when they first came out in paperback. I still with romance only (interpersed with a very few biographies) these days though. :)

  20. Kaetrin
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 20:28:26

    @Liz Mc2: Same in Australia Liz! If they’re even available in kindle format that is.

  21. Brian
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 20:43:30

    SCOTTISH crime writer Shona MacLean has been forced to change her name – to S G MacLean – to make her novels more appealing to men.

    I know this happens all the time, but I still think it’s pretty freakin’ dumb.

    Is there anything to indicate this actually works?

  22. sao
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 23:42:21

    You can change your country of residence somewhere in the “Manage Your Kindle” menu tree. You might have trouble changing it to the US while physically in Canada, but my guess is that if you change it to US while on a brief vacation in the US, you can keep it that way forever. My Kindle has never suggested I might live in Russia, although that’s where my credit card billing address is and where I usually log in from. My Amazon account was opened in the UK with a UK address and a UK CC billing address (obviously that was a few moves ago).

    If there is a program designed to catch non-Americans visiting in preference to their home country, it should catch me. Possibly they work harder in native English speaking countries, but I’ve had no problems buying at American prices.

  23. DS
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 09:05:47

    @Carrie: I think it is another one of those things that publishers think is true, but I’m not sure how much information there is to support it. I’ve never read this particular author but I have read some of the other people cited in the article and C. J. Sansom is male. I’m not sure if he would pick up any other readers if they thought he was female. Shona MacLean sounds like someone I would have read under any name had I known about her, just from the description of the books. So I just ordered them.

    When female detective stories became really popular in the US (Sue Grafton, etc), I noticed that Avon had a writer with a female detective who used the name M.D. Lake. Lake was a man– I also didn’t particularly care for his mysteries– but he wrote a bunch in that series for Avon so they must have sold. The author information was kept sexually neutral.

    Tom Huff wrote both rapey sweet savage historicals under the name Jennifer Wilde and sort of gothic suspense as Nancy Buckingham and he wasn’t the only one by any means.

    By the way, does anyone actually click that button to tell everyone they know on facebook that they just bought something? Hey everyone on facebook, I just bought some corn plasters and Preparation H from Amazon! Social Media seems to to have run insane.

  24. T
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 11:21:42

    Liz, it IS an amazon issue. Amazon and only amazon checks my IP and adds at least 2 dollars something to the price of every ebook I browse. Not selling to me is one thing and might have to with digital rights. Charging more, uh no. Right next to “free worldwide delivery through whispernet” when i am not using whispernet at all. Kobobooks or ARE or plenty other sellers sell without that charge.

    And does anybody know if authors get any percentage at all of those hidden fees? I heard not.

    And SAO, I am really envious you can buy without that sort of charges. I have been trying to figure out how (kindle not shipped to the US, not to any amazon country), only ever active on wi-fi on another country, and can´t. Tried changing addresses, putting valid us addresses does not work. I think a combo of fake us address, ip proxy and gift cards MIGHT work, but not going to bother. If an ebook is only available through amazon, well, so far I have decided I do not need it that badly.

    (and it is not the 2, 3, 5 dollars extra. It´s about how mad it makes, how stupid and unfair it is to try to charge me more for sending something the WEB to a different country).

  25. T
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 11:25:13

    About gender changing, it also works a bit the reverse way. On some genres, female pseudonyms seem to sell more and not just romance necessarily.

    M L N Hanover is previously published fantasy author daniel abraham doing urban fantasy.

    Galen Becket is sort of a gender neutral pseudonym for another previously published author.

  26. Nadia Lee
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 22:56:04

    You can change your country setting for AMZ Kindle here

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