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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
In Which I Come Out of the . . . What's Smaller Than A Closet? by E.J. Copperman
In Which I Come Out Of The... What's Smaller Than A Closet?
by E.J. Copperman
On the very last page of my extremely upcoming (June 1!) mystery novel NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED (Berkley Prime Crime, first in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series), there is an author biography that reads:
E.J. Copperman is a native New Jerseyan and an award-nominated screenwriter, mystery novelist and freelance journalist who has written for /The New York Times, Hollywood Scriptwriter, Writer's Digest, Entertainment Weekly /and many other publications.
All of which is true (and "award-nominated" means I didn't win, except, to be fair, I did once get a journalism award, but that was a very long time ago, and I didn't even know I'd been nominated until a week after the ceremony). But until now, the truth has never been known publicly.
E.J. Copperman is a pseudonym.
I know; you're shocked. As if the initials at the front of the name weren't signal enough, here I am telling flat out that I'm actually someone else pretending to be me. Or, someone else who actually is me, but doesn't say so, for fear of being associated with myself. Or, a writer you might or might not have heard about, but let's face it, probably didn't read, or else I'd still be me, and not someone pretending to be me.
My head hurts.
Here's how it works in the publishing biz: You start out as yourself (most of the time). You publish a novel or two. Or three. And either they take off with the public--that fickle lot--or they don't. Authors whose books have become popular will tell you it's the product of colossally hard work, endless promotion, sometimes great talent, and determination to rival that of the grittiest marathoner. Those whose books are now available as free downloads or taking up space in a warehouse next to the Ark of the Covenant will tell you it's all a crapshoot, and those other writers are just lucky.
Whatever. The point is, your books sell, or they don't. If they don't sell a lot, but they sell close to enough, the publisher (or another publisher) might be willing to give you another shot. But in order to "wipe the slate clean" with booksellers, particularly extremely large ones with the initials, let's say B and N, you will be asked to put a different name on the cover of the book.
This is not the tiny issue a rational human being might believe: Authors generally are not paid a king's ransom (or, to be fair, even the ransom on a 1976 Dodge Dart) for their work. We usually subsist on a "day job," which pays at least some of the bills, and book advances, royalties and such are a sideline out of necessity, not intent. I can tell you truly, college tuition doesn't pay itself. So that name on the front cover of the book takes on more meaning; if we're not going to get rich at this, at least we can tell the world that this is our work.
And then, we're asked to change the name. Well, publishers ARE in the business to make lots of money, and while we'd like that, it's not always realistic. We do have to pay their bills in order to keep getting published, and that's fair. A new name? Hell, writers love to make up names (actually, I HATE making up names, but that's another whole blog in itself). Sure.
So in my case, I asked my daughter Eve, my son Joshua and our dog Copper for suggestions. They couldn't come up with much, but somehow, I was inspired. Not sure what did it.
I've been very careful (well... a tiny bit careful, sort of) about protecting my identity, in the belief that my publisher wanted it that way. I never refer to myself by my original name. I'm careful about how I describe myself (see attached photo). And I have been reluctant about booking personal appearances, although to be fair, the door's not exactly getting kicked in with offers. There are no photos of me on my web site www.ejcopperman.com (in case you were wondering).
Being scrupulous about such things has been sort of a kick; it's fun to pretend and to have a secret that you can keep to yourself and a select few. So E.J. Copperman will remain E.J. Copperman in my eyes. It's a different kind of writing anyway--a twist on paranormal that recalls Topper in the era of Twilight. I hope you'll take a look; it's a fun read. But who I am? Nope, you'll be getting no hints from me.
Except here: http://berkleysignetmysteries.com/author406