Author teams and pen names – if the story’s good, does it matter? Not to me!

The book I’m reading and enjoying right now, A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, was written by a mother and son team (Charles and Caroline Todd). I recently read another excellent book, Blue Monday by Nicci French. That’s a husband and wife team, Nicci Gerard and Sean French. Last year I read an engrossing YA story, Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman, written by a father and son. The Shustermans don’t combine their names, so it’s plain to the reader that it’s written by two people. That got me thinking. If a story is good, does it matter if it’s a collaborative effort? Do you feel tricked when the book has one author name but it’s really two people?

What about pseudonyms? Did you know that romance writer Nora Roberts also writes a police series as J. D. Robb? Using a different name is nothing new. Benjamin Franklin used many different pen names, including Martha Careful and Silence Dogood. And of course there are the Brontё sisters, AKA the Bells, Charlotte as Currer, Emily as Ellis and Ann as Acton. In fact, the more you look for authors who have used pseudonyms, the more you find. Take a look at this List of pen names on Wikipedia and you will see how many.

It doesn’t matter to me if a book is written by two people, even when they combine their names so it looks like one author wrote it. If the story is good, it’s good and the reader benefits. And it’s kind of like being in on a secret if you know.

Think about great shows and how many writers they have. Does that make the show less entertaining? Definitely not! That applies to music too. Great bands are great because they collaborate.

So I know that I don’t care if a story is written by one or a couple writers. But what do you think? Does it matter to you? Can you add to this list?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

22 thoughts on “Author teams and pen names – if the story’s good, does it matter? Not to me!

  1. I’m with you, Barbara. If the story is good, I don’t care whose name is on the cover. Before my first book was published, I was asked by my publisher if I wanted to publish under another name since there were already a couple of Jill’s who wrote for the line.

    1. Oh, that’s interesting – I’m glad you stayed with “Jill” though! Thanks for reading and commenting. We’re on the same “page” with our opinions!

  2. It’s all about the content really. If the book is good I don’t mind a collaboration or pen name.
    I’m more concerned about a good read.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Same here – if I’d done a “blind read” I never would have known that the three books I mentioned were written by author duos. Two heads are better than one sometimes! Thanks for visiting, Lynn. Hope you have a great weekend!

  3. Interesting thoughts! I wouldn’t say that it takes away from my enjoyment, but I do somehow feel like I missed something when I find out after the fact that an author who I thought was an actual person is actually a writing team. I’d prefer to know ahead of time. Not sure why it matters to me, but it does!

    Another example of a writing team is Christina Lauren, author (duo) of a bunch of fun contemporary romances. I don’t read much of the genre in general, but I find her (their) work really enjoyable.

    1. Hi Lisa, I think most of the author duos are up front about their “authorship” – it doesn’t bother me – I think it’s interesting. Blue Monday by Nicci French was excellent, so that’s a good example of how it works for some writers. I can’t imagine how 2 or more authors share their ideas for one book, though. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. I don’t care if its a collaboration either! As long as the book is good then I’m happy 🙂 I like the idea of pseudonyms too. They can help authors break out of their stereotypical niche (like Nora Roberts) and allow them to expand what they write! It can also help readers know what type of Genre it is going to be! For example Victoria Schwab uses V.E. Schwab on her more adult books and Victoria Schwab on her younger aged books.

    1. Yeah, and S.E. Hinton used abbreviations instead of her full Susan Eloise Hinton so that “The Outsiders” would be more appealing to young male audiences.

      1. That’s interesting. I know a lot of mystery writers use just their first and middle initials. I guess that’s a thing. Thanks for reading, Jeff. Hope you’re about to have a great weekend!

    2. I agree – it’s not as if any of these authors are trying to keep it a secret. I think it does help them move into other genres, too. Great point! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    1. I know, right? Think of all the bands that have broken up to go solo. I think it’s especially true with music. Thanks for the visit!

    1. Hi Ann, yes I just finished A Duty to the Dead this morning and I thought it was very well done. I would not have noticed it was a writing duo. I think I would enjoy reading more in the Bess Crawford series. A Duty to the Dead is the first, so I have many pages of reading to look forward to! Thanks for visiting.

  5. I’ve never given it much thought and now I’m wondering if there really are people out there who pick up a book and say, “A collaboration? Ick!” then immediately toss it back on the shelf. Having said that, I didn’t like Stephen and Owen King’s collaboration on Sleeping Beauty, but not because it was a collaboration; it was just that the story was boooorrring.

    1. I think if it’s a good author team, the result is all the better. I’ve enjoyed the several books I’ve read, written by two authors. The writing in each was smooth. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Tammie!

  6. This is an interesting post, Barbara. I know a lot of women wrote under pseudonyms because women’s ability to write was not acknowledged in the Victorian era. I have written Through the Nethergate under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle as opposed to Robbie Cheadle as I want to separate my adult books from my children’s books. It is a different version of my name.

      1. I didn’t like the name Barbara when I was younger because it didn’t seem to fit a young girl, but I like it now. Robbie is nice for you, too.

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