What If Rowling Didn't Write Harry Potter?

Okay, so let me ask you guys something… I write a lot on the topic of writing, editing, improving writing, how to make a living as a writer, freelance writing, etc. Many of you read me because you know that I actually DO all those things, so that while I might not be an expert so to speak, I do at least speak from a place of experience. You also know, I hope, that I write all my own blog posts and articles.

So let me ask you a question.

What would you think about me and my advice if you were to find out somewhere down the line that I’ve been hiring a ghostwriter all this time and someone else besides me had been writing my blogs?

This isn’t the case. I do write all my own stuff, but there was talk in over on Ezine Articles about ghostwriters writing for topic/industry ‘experts’ instead of the expert writing their own stuff.

That conversation went on to discuss going so far as using ‘fake’ pictures of other people, perhaps purchased at stock photo sites, in order to give a face to the pen name being used, to ‘add credibility’.

How is a fake name, a fake photo, and using a ghostwriter credible? How exactly does that make anyone an ‘expert’ on their topic?

If you’d been reading someone for years only to discover that person was not who you thought they were, would you ever listen to their advice or believe anything they say again?

I’ve always been upfront that my pen name is for privacy and marketing reasons. My real name was too ‘common’ and easily searchable on the internet, as well as too closely resembling a famous person who in past years has become rather infamous. It was to the point that if you were to type in my real first and last name, Google would ask, “Did you mean (insert celebrity’s name here)?”

Taking that into consideration, knowing that trying to get anything in Google to appear above this celebrity’s name, and knowing that my privacy and that of my family is precious to me, I chose a pen name. I use three separate pen names, two of them clearly me – Michelle L Devon and Michy Anderson.

Why do I use Michy Anderson? Because I was writing some fiction in a light horror, crime and suspense genre, and a publisher told me once that it’s a genre dominated by men and that a name that wasn’t so clearly female (Michelle) would be better. Anderson was chosen for personal reasons I won’t go into. My erotic writing is a third pen name that I won’t reveal so it’s not linked back to my main names.

Is this falsehood though or good business and safety practices? Do you NEED to know my real name in order to enjoy my writing? Many writers over the years have used pen name, some of the biggest most well-known writers of our time, in fact. Are they deceitful?

Is there a difference between using a pen name for fiction writing versus non-fiction writing?

Is trying to pass off a photograph of someone else as you a good move?

The discussion over there
really got me to thinking about how gullible we tend to be, as consumers. I tended to believe that MOST of the people on this site were using their real ‘identity’, even if a pen name like mine, and were doing their own writing. To discover that a majority might actually be using pen names, multiple pen names, and even going so far as using pictures of people other than themselves gave me pause.

But in truth, it didn’t surprise me much.

There’s a well-known author, Stephanie Meyer, who writes the Twilight series, and the other night, I heard my almost 21-year old daughter on the phone talking to a friend, outraged that Ms. Meyer’s manuscript had been shared with people Ms. Meyer claimed to trust, and that they were leaking parts of it and posting it in public. This information came from a blog my daughter found of Ms. Meyer’s, and apparently, Ms. Meyer is so upset about this, she’s decided she won’t finish the novel and is making what she has finished available for free download.

My daughter was so upset about this.

I laughed to myself and thought, “What a clever marketing ploy.”

My daughter was appalled to think that perhaps this author might LIE about this to sell books. What happens next? All the fans download the book, they read it, they beg her to finish it anyway, which she finally capitulates to, and they rush to the bookstore to see how it ends.

Brilliant really.

My daughter still doesn’t believe it’s a ruse.

I know some writers who were so pissed off when they discovered VC Andrews was really dead and a man had been ghostwriting for her for years. I wondered why they didn’t pay more attention to the news (shrug).

So I guess my mind is wandering now to ‘reality’. I use a pen name, but my real picture (the one on this blog right now was taken in January 2008). I don’t deny using a pen name, but won’t reveal my real name. I use another pen name for erotica, but won’t reveal that to have it linked to my pen name you guys know.

I do write all my own content though.

James Patterson has as much as admitted in a few interviews that he doesn’t do all his own writing. He comes up with concepts, excerpts, plots, and stories. Notice on the advertisements for him, they don’t call him America’s Greatest Writer… they call him a storyteller. That’s what he is, essentially. He’s a name, a face, a facade, who tells a story and then writers write it.

Does it make you like his writing any more or less to know that? I dunno… I found his writing a bit pedestrian myself.

What if you were to suddenly discover your favorite writer was nothing more than a figurehead? How would you feel? Would it ruin the writing for you?

What if, for argument’s sake, Rowling didn’t write Harry Potter? All this time, so many aspiring writers consider this modest means mom who made it to millionaire status as a writer as some sort of inspiration to write their own novels.

How would you feel if someday it came out that Rowling was nothing more than a facade?

Would that make Harry Potter, as a book or a series, any less appealing to you to read?

Just some things I’m thinking about. There’s more conversation on this topic on the forum as well, and you can find that here. Would love to hear your take on this!

Love and stuff,