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Yes, I write under a number of different names, so much so that I frequently have trouble remembering who I'm supposed to be that day. At conventions and book signings I'm often asked why, so here, at last, is the definitive reply.

Especially within what are known as the "mid-lists" of publishing, it is common practice for the publishers to come up with a series idea, which they turn over to a willing writer. The stories are completed under what is known as a house name ... a pseudonym, in fact, owned by the publisher. We joke -- though it's not entirely inaccurate -- that this is so that when the writer becomes well-enough known to demand a bigger advance, the publisher can tell him to take a hike and turn the series over to another young and starving writer, one who has not yet been overcome by delusions of grandeur.

Pseudonyms are also used by writers who work at the same time in several different fields. Publishers often dislike the idea that a writer might turn out both -- let's say -- military fiction and science fiction. Possibly they think the readers will be confused. More likely, it's the book distributors and chain buyers who get confused, or the bookstore managers who don't know which shelf to put the books on.

Finally, I'm just learning that pseudonyms also come in handy when a previous series didn't do so well. Book buyers for the big chains let their computers guide their buying and will order fewer copies if the numbers for the last series by that author aren't above a certain, magic mark. Warstrider did pretty well -- the first in the series was released in 1993 and didn't go out of print until 1996, and that's a decent shelf life for any novel today -- but the publisher feels that my latest series will have a better chance, and better sales figures, if it comes out under an unknown name. Think about that, next time you pick up a novel billed as written by "an exciting new novelist." Chances are, that writer has been plugging away for a long time, under other names!

In any case, I write both straight military fiction and science fiction ... most of which has a strong military slant. For SF, I write under my own name, and the pseudonym "Ian Douglas." The military books appear under a variety of other names. For those of you who've been asking about my other books under other names, here they are:

ghostwriting -- 2 novels (one series)
Bill Keith -- 2 novels (one series)
Keith William Andrews -- 6 novels (one series)
Robert Cain -- 6 novels (one series)
Keith Douglass -- 10 novels (two series) (other authors have continued these series under the same house name)
Ian Douglas -- 15 novels (three series) and 1 short story
H. Jay Riker -- 16 novels (two series) and 2 short stories
William H. Keith (with or without the "Jr.") -- 28 novels (12 series), 19 short stories, and 10 nonfiction books

Each page has links to the works written under that pen name. You can browse through the pseudonym pages by using the "previous" and "next" links.  The "up" link will bring you back here.


All text copyright (c) William H. Keith
This page was last updated on 02/07/2013