Who is "jojo"? (About pen names)

Who is "jojo"? (About pen names)

What's up with "jojo"?

Many authors write their novels under a pen name. Mark Twain's real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and George Eliot was the pseudonym used by Mary Ann Evans. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was penned by Lewis Carroll, whose actual name was Charles Lutwige Dodgson.

Writers choose pseudonyms for various reasons, including privacy, marketing, artistic freedom, and avoiding gender, ethnic, or other stereotypes. Some use alternate names for legal reasons or to separate audiences when writing in different genres. Pen names offer flexibility.

However, using a pen name has its drawbacks, too. An author writing under a pseudonym might need to build a new audience from scratch, divide their attention across multiple writing personas, and manage various author profiles and royalties dashboards, not to mention the potential legal and financial complications. In other words, pen names are a hassle.

Any programmer who's ever created an abstraction layer of an object with multiple interfaces will understand the challenge.

So, what's the deal with "jojo"?

But there's another important reason for working with interfaces, sorry, pen names.

In the age of marketplace algorithms, alternate pen names for different target audiences help teach AIs to treat these names as separate authors. When people check out the product page of Glitches of Gods on Amazon, I don't want it to list my nonfiction books, as this could confuse potential readers who are interested only in sci-fi, not in agile leadership books. Ideally, the "Also Bought" section on my novel's product page should show Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth or Martha Wells's Murderbot Diaries. It should not highlight my own earlier books such as Managing for Happiness or Startup, Scaleup, Screwup.

I decided to use a pen name for my novel, Glitches of Gods, to nudge bookstore algorithms to keep my fiction and nonfiction works separate. However, I still wanted ordinary humans to understand that I am just one person writing both fiction and nonfiction. I have little interest in complicating things too much. I needed a different pen name, but not too different. The two separate interfaces are meant only for the recommendation algorithms, not for people.

Many authors add initials to their names for precisely this reason. Joanna Penn writes her fiction as J.F. Penn. David Gaughran publishes his novels as David M. Gaughran: same person, different pen names. I could have done something similar, but neither C.J. Appelo nor C. Jurgen Appelo looked appealing as pen names for my novels.

OK, enough talk. What about that "jojo" name?

A German friend once gave me the nickname "jojo" at the age of sixteen while on vacation. For nearly four decades, I've used the name for some of my creative efforts. As a student, I signed my cartoons and illustrations as "jojo." I've worn a "jojo" pendant on my necklace for close to thirty years, and I named the company I launched 24 years ago Jojo Ventures.

Jurgen "jojo" Appelo is the obvious pen name for my fiction. While it's uncommon for novelists to use a nickname as part of a pen name, it's not unheard of in the broader world of artistic and creative industries. Hunter "Patch" Adams, Steve "Silk" Hurley, Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr., Paul William "Bear" Bryant, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, George Ivan "Van" Morrison, and (not the most inspiring example) Sean John "Diddy" Combs were some of those who went before me.

Jurgen "jojo" Appelo writes fiction.

Jurgen Appelo writes nonfiction.

Now, let's hope that Amazon, Google, Apple, and the others can keep these two authors apart.

Jurgen "jojo" Appelo

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P.S. This is what ChatGPT says:

Publishing a novel under a pseudonym or pen name can offer several benefits. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Privacy and Anonymity: Authors can maintain their privacy and separate their personal and professional lives, avoiding unwanted attention or public scrutiny.
  2. Freedom from Prejudice: A pseudonym can help authors bypass any biases related to their gender, ethnicity, or background, allowing their work to be judged on its own merits.
  3. Creative Freedom: Authors may feel more liberated to explore different genres, styles, or controversial topics without worrying about damaging their primary brand or reputation.
  4. Marketing Strategy: A pseudonym can be part of a strategic marketing plan, creating a unique identity that appeals to a specific audience or market niche.
  5. Multiple Genres: Authors who write in different genres can use pen names to keep their works distinct, making it easier for readers to identify the type of book they are purchasing.
  6. Restarting a Career: Authors who have had unsuccessful books or want to start afresh can use a pseudonym to reinvent themselves and avoid any previous negative associations.
  7. Avoiding Typecasting: Authors known for a particular genre or style can use a pen name to explore new creative directions without being typecast or limited by their established image.
  8. Collaborative Works: Multiple authors working together on a single project can use a shared pseudonym to present a unified voice and identity to readers.
  9. Evasion of Censorship: In regions with strict censorship or where certain topics are controversial, a pseudonym can provide a layer of protection for authors.
  10. Separation of Personal and Professional Lives: Authors with demanding day jobs or public personas might prefer to use a pseudonym to avoid conflicts of interest or maintain a professional image in their primary career.
  11. Family and Social Considerations: Authors may choose a pen name to protect their family or social circle from any fallout related to the content of their books.
  12. Branding and Pen Name Appeal: Some pseudonyms can be more marketable or memorable than the author's real name, enhancing the book's appeal and market presence.

Using a pseudonym can be a strategic and beneficial choice for many authors, offering a wide range of advantages depending on their specific circumstances and goals.

Publishing a novel under a pseudonym or pen name can also have several drawbacks. Here are some potential disadvantages:

  1. Recognition Issues: Authors may miss out on personal recognition and accolades, as the credit goes to the pseudonym instead of their real name.
  2. Legal and Financial Complications: Managing contracts, royalties, and legal rights can be more complex when a pseudonym is involved, especially if it requires maintaining anonymity.
  3. Brand Confusion: If an author uses multiple pseudonyms, it might confuse readers and dilute their brand, making it harder to build a loyal following.
  4. Marketing Challenges: Promoting a book can be more challenging without the author's real identity, making it harder to connect with readers on a personal level.
  5. Difficulty in Maintaining Anonymity: Keeping a pseudonym secret can be difficult over time, and if the real identity is revealed, it could lead to backlash or legal issues.
  6. Loss of Personal Connection: Authors using pseudonyms might find it harder to build personal connections with readers, as they cannot share their true identity and background.
  7. Limited Public Engagement: Opportunities for public speaking, interviews, and book signings may be restricted or complicated by the use of a pseudonym.
  8. Reduced Personal Satisfaction: Some authors may feel a lack of personal fulfillment and recognition when their work is attributed to a pen name rather than their real identity.
  9. Reputation Management: If a pseudonym becomes associated with negative publicity or poor reviews, it can be challenging to manage or distance oneself from that reputation.
  10. Complex Social Interactions: Interacting with peers, fans, and industry professionals can be tricky, as authors must consistently maintain their pseudonym's identity.
  11. Potential for Miscommunication: Using a pseudonym might lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings within the publishing industry, especially if the author has multiple identities.
  12. Administrative Hassles: Managing multiple identities can create additional administrative burdens, such as maintaining separate social media accounts and author platforms for each pseudonym.

While a pseudonym can offer significant advantages, authors must carefully weigh these potential drawbacks to decide if it aligns with their personal and professional goals.

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Jurgen Appelo

"Eighty percent of everything is noise."