A couple of days ago, I had a great convo with a former Rugby Union legend, Enrique ‘Topo’ Rodríguez, which in itself deserves at least three blog posts. We discussed how a persona can preserve the person, in other words, how a pseudonym—my pseudonym, FF Jensen—allows a human being—in this case, the ‘real’ me—to strike out into a new arena—creative writing—keeping all other aspects of my private life away from intruding eyes—in other words, still private.
There’s also a very pressing reality: I need to pay my bills and I can’t make a living out of my creative writing just yet. My current supervisor-coordinator, or whatever you want to call them, has given me enough proof of narrow-mindedness and judgmentalism (Yuppy! I have invented a great word) and I never know what may come in my direction. Someone said, ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to getcha.’ Problem is that in this case I’ve got more than enough evidence to mistrust this person.
In any case, there’s a fun story behind my nom de plume that I’d love to share with you: As soon as I finished writing ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and knew that publication under my real name was a no-no, I started ‘shopping around’ for a pen name. I whiled my time away on the Behind the Name website, marvelling at how all the different random combinations kept coming, but there was nothing there that truly tickled my fancy. No ‘Yes!’ or ‘Eureka!’ moment.
A rather unconnected event brought in exactly what I was after. My partner is a member of a specialist forum where his nickname was abbreviated to ‘FF’. On a couple of occasions, I posted messages under my partner’s username, and one of his mates suggested I get my own username for that forum. It was the first time in my life I posted online under someone else’s name, which isn’t like me at all. I’ve been online since 1995 and never used ‘proxies’ (I surely used proxy servers, though). I’ve always been me, never anybody else (Hehe, my ‘digital fingerprints’ are everywhere now … If I were a ‘person of interest’ for the NSA, they’d catch me at the drop of a hat).
Whatever, you must be thinking. Cut to the chase, FF! Where does your pen name come from?
One of my partner’s friends posted a pic of a Jensen FF on that specialist forum. I can’t remember how it happened exactly, but the suggestion was that since I am Mr FF’s missus, I should join that forum as Jensen FF. The joke was over in less than ten minutes, but a ‘little seed’ was planted in my subconscious.
Back in January this year, I had a weird eureka moment. One morning, as soon as I woke up, I told my partner, ‘I think that my pseudonym should be FF Jensen.’ His reply was, ‘Honey, that might work.’ In a matter of days, I got the domain name for my website and started developing it. I even received an email from someone who wanted to buy spare parts for the Jensen FF! Hilarious …
Mind you, FF Jensen is pretty well established, but I sometimes find myself thinking whether I should publish my raunchy short stories under a different nom de plume. Or whether at some stage I’ll be happy to flaunt my real name. Who knows…? In any case, who cares? I don’t. The main thing is to keep on writing and enjoying it, all the while keeping the ‘head honcho’ in the dark.
We all know that a pseudonym or nom de plume can be a really creative idea in itself, to such an extent that you can find websites that ‘throw’ a random name at the click of a mouse. Being the linguistic nerd that I am, my website of choice in this area is Behind the Name. You can also use it to create character together, thus saving yourself a bundle on legal fees if someone decides to take you to court on defamation charges. And I’m not joking.
Some pseudonyms in literary history are a cracker. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known to us as Mark Twain (1835-1910), is by far one of my favourites. As a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi, young Samuel would cry ‘mark twain’ to announce a river depth of two fathoms. In my culture of origin, the celebrated poet Pedro Bonifacio Palacios (1854-1917) went by the sobriquet Almafuerte, portmanteau of two words which means strong soul in Spanish. It wasn’t his only pseudonym, though, but I believe it was the one he truly identified with: he had a very hard life right from the outset.
I could write a whole book—even a whole collection—on what is in a pseudonym. Behind it, there’s a human being who happens to be an author, and many times it’s that very human being’s circumstance that requires a cloak of anonymity.
Part II will be released soon. In the meantime, to those online invisible friends, thanks for sharing my posts 🙂 Cheers, FFJ
I’m kinda dizzy these days with so much to do, and at the same time I’m trying to keep my writing up to speed. Oh well, the day should have 48 hours rather than 24. I bet I’d still manage to keep myself horribly busy anyway, mwahaha!
What I wanted to share with you: my Goodreads listing. I have to say that their replies to my emails came in less than 24 hours, and in less than 48 hours I had my author profile set up.
Interestingly, after writers finish writing a book, a few processes take place that we indiefolks have to foot the bill for—literally. Writers that go through traditional publishers (and don’t end up in the dreaded, so-called slush pile) don’t have to, because the publisher takes care of the editing, marketing, PR, social media, etc.
It isn’t my intention to get into the subject of royalties here, but I can roughly say that the difference between what indiefolks and traditionally published authors receive is considerable. The big trade-off here is that indie = full control of everything, including royalties.
You can find plenty of great websites that explain the nuts and bolts of going it on your own, with bells and whistles. There are also excellent self-published manuals on the subject. In this case, I’ll just limit myself to writing about the steps I had to take. The first one, the most important one, the unavoidable one:
WRITING A BOOK 🙂
Sorry about the all-caps, but you get my drift. Writing a book is no picnic. I know because I’ve done it myself. Don’t pay attention to those that tell you that so many people write and that your ‘baby’ will get lost in the Amazon jungle (hehe!) or that Your Words Will Be Smashed, or any other crap like that. You’ve done it and it takes gumption and guts. It takes massive doses of creativity, of course, but I know many creative people that start lots of different things at the same time and end up achieving nothing.
Once the book has been written, you’ll need an editor. My first choice of editor took me to a dead end. I suspect she probably didn’t want to edit an opera prima written by a nobody who hasn’t got a PhD in English or anything like that—and who writes explicit sex scenes to boot. In any case, I happened to be working on WordWatcher’s website and I wondered, Why not him? I’ve already discussed my very successful experience with him in a previous post.
I already knew about IndieMosh and their publishing packages. At the beginning I only considered e-publishing, but I wanted to make sure that I opened more markets for myself, and not everybody has an e-reader (or likes them, for that matter). So after doing my math, I decided to get a combo package (e-publishing and print on demand).
Here comes a very interesting bit: I’m a trained graphic and web designer, so I designed my covers, did the layout and supplied all the finished artwork to publish ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. My partner is a professional pro and took a nice pic of me. At the same time, I wrote several blurbs for different purposes: the Amazon site, Smashwords, One Thousand Words Plus, etc. You need different numbers of words depending on the platform, so I wrote a basic blurb and ‘tweaked’ it to suit different platforms. After that…
I started developing this website and set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. FF Jensen became part of the social media jungle all right!
The next steps:
The launch (to take place on May 19).
A Google + page.
Facebook advertising ? We shall see…
Pinterest… I don’t think so. My craft is literature, so I’d probably pass that one up.
Press releases and press contacts: I will explore the chances of publishing articles in Australian magazines and websites.
Participating on a TV show? That could be a good one…
All of this while I continue writing my short story collection, Bedroom Short Stories For DiscerningAdults. Those over 18, stay tuned: there will be a ‘freebie’ coming your way soon!
As I write this post, I have come to the conclusion that creating the FF Jensen brand is as much fun as being a writer—and probably every bit as creative!
Once I finish this post, I’ll take a peep of the wonderful landscape rolling by, from the Blue Mountains train. Catcha later, FFJ
Writings, ranting, ramblings and more. This site is work in progress…and so am I!