Well, sort of. Only if you don’t know me, or haven’t followed me all this time technically. Never really hid this, I’ve always been pretty open about it like with everything else. I know my openness may freak people out, but it’s me. I spent a childhood silent and nearly took my life. I won’t stay quiet and shut down anymore.
When I first began to publish my work in 2012, I had made the decision that I wanted to publish my work under a pseudonym. I didn’t want it to be my real name. Many reasons are always behind decision I make, and usually I think on them for many years before making them. Far too often I feel like many think I’m making spur of the moment changes and I rarely ever have done so. Usually there is a lot of thinking, talking about with people, gaining ideas, on and on. Then I finally get the “I’m done, I need this change.” That’s when I do it.
When indie publishing entered the fold, I had chosen that route after spending countless hours in the years prior, attempting to figure out how to get someone to represent my work, how to contact publishing houses, what would work for me, who would work for me, how to get traditionally published. I researched and I learned, and I figured and I pondered.
Then indie publishing came along. Once again, I spent a year trying to decide if I wanted to jump into it or not. I wanted to know if I should, if I could, and whether it was for me. Or, should I pursue traditional publishing.
I decided (and have stayed with) indie publishing because I have always been a determined and self-disciplined individual. (*whispers* control freak about my work.)I had been the one to decide to get my high school diploma instead of the GED route as most I knew did who never went to High School. I had been the one who decided to take the leap into many things I’ve done in my life because I work hard to learn everything about the process, to do better at it, and I work HARD to improve and do good work. I’ve had many also not believe in me. Didn’t believe I’d make it. I went through that when I sold Avon. I was constantly asked if I still sold. They constantly expected me to fail, to give up, to not pursue it for long.
Note that those same individuals stopped playing a role in my life. Having people constantly not believe in you, constantly lack support, constantly berate you, constantly abuse you too? You become the same failure they expect. The “little girl” who doesn’t know anything. The woman who fails to even exist right. I still deal with that because I look young. People who look down on me, who want to put me down. I have been severely abused, stalked, raped, sexually abused, and harassed. My entire life I have been fighting just to make it each day.
So when I first began to publish my confidence in myself, and my confidence period? Was pretty much zilch. I’m not some superhero at this point in my confidence level, but I have come far. Lot of work on myself, lot of continuing work.
So when I hit publish, I didn’t like the idea of using my name. I frankly was too scared to. I already had been constantly berated in life and everything I did by those closest to me, and I wanted to remain invisible. I researched names, I worked out what may work best, and I imagined where the book would be set on a bookshelf. Online or in a physical store. So I thought, whether listed by first name, or last and A and a B would be perfect.
Well then I had to figure out a middle because I could make it initials and nobody would know whether I was a girl or a boy. As hard as we all work for being treated equally, a very feminine name attached to a horror, sci-fi, or other, isn’t usually grabbed as easily as a male name. The reverse could be said for a romance. Female writers have known this a long time. I truly hope that changes. I know some readers who don’t think about the name, or the author much (I certainly don’t), but. BUT.
So I began my journey of individualization from my family and my life, to purse my writing with the name A.H. Browne.
I published work under that name, I blog hopped, I advertised, I used a lot of energy and it paid off because I was seeing the progress. Eventually I discovered another author published under that name and I’d started to feel weird about having a name that someone else did, but also other stuff that now I’ve forgotten. That was just a major one. I worked hard to separate my name from his. I kept working on Goodreads and Amazon to stop linking the stuff from him to me, and me to him. Lot of emails sent back and forth. Lot of editing done to keep the stuff separate.
Eventually I got tired and figured maybe I’d try lengthening the name. Maybe I’d just change it up, and try something new.
A lot of why many businesses tend to stick about is the ability to change and adapt, and plenty of authors have changed their name so I was all – okay this is gonna be work (silly me with only a few books back then thinking it’d be work versus my own 40 now, lol) but I can do it.
So I became Ariana Browning. (Ariana Haley Browning technically.)
My sales froze when I changed to a very feminine name. I went through every possible way I could to let people know – this is me. This is the change. And begin to link old to new. I updated everything on all the retail sites, worked with Amazon to change everything so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I did my Goodreads (I spent more time on it back then) profile, changed emails, website, newsletter, socials (back then we had to remake profiles, not just change a username). I spent a lot of time and energy ensuring people knew I was going to change, then that I had changed.
Didn’t do much good. People still bought the DI series, but I noticed a distinct lack of interest in that new name. I also wasn’t putting out the best I could do in that time. Well, I suppose with what I knew then, it was the best I could do. After all, we don’t know what we don’t know. I was also a product of the “this is great!” applause. Which is why I say I don’t read reviews because praise can be as bad for some as can bad. I didn’t have grammar down, editing (self) down, and didn’t have a good editor when I FIRST started. I had friends. I love them. I love how encouraging they were, this is not on them, but me.
But, I sucked. I did. I had come to see through negative reviews that I had a lot of work and it was difficult to process. So I switched my name and decided that in that time I would spend a lot of time learning self-editing, learning writing, learning more marketing, learning and learning and learning.
Seeing how my sales toppled and not feeling comfortable writing under Ariana Browning, I decided ya know what? What if people who know me wanna find me? Once again I gave this a lot of thought while watching my sales not do good under that name, and spent a lot of time and energy switching everything around. All the while feeling off. I like the A.H. Browne, but I just really didn’t like the Ariana Browning. I didn’t like not being under my name. I didn’t like people knowing me under a different name, and not associating my work under my name.
You have to LIVE as your pen name. And when people find out your pen name isn’t yours, or you’re not writing under your own name, it can be awkward. Lot of weird conversations with people who didn’t understand pseudonyms, or the writing world. More so more of the talking down to and criticizing from the people in my world especially. It’s why I tell people, and why I say to you now – unless you truly want to LIVE as that person? Truly think long and hard about using a pen name. It is a lot of work. You have to change book covers, emails, websites, newsletters, socials, on and on. I can understand it for privacy and for erotica, but outside of that, I’d always advise real name every time.
It’s not easy, it’s not something to ever take lightly.
About six years ago (as of next month), I switched to my name – Kim Iverson.
I’d spent so much time learning how to better write, learning how to strengthen my storytelling, learning how to improve my self-editing, and I’d found a new editor. The one I had who began to help me (around 2013 or so?) passed away and I didn’t know. So I had to work to find a new one. It was then I found the one I have now. Around then was when I switched to using Ariana Browning. But from everything I just didn’t feel right continuing to use a pen name. Since it was so soon after switching the name I was all . . . if I’m gonna write under my own name? Now is the time. I’m already having to redirect everything, already having to tell everyone about the change, my sales have stopped, so I’m gonna just take a leap of faith and pray things work out. With everything I’d been learning, with the improvements I’d made, I wanted to start fresh.
Under my own name. Under the name that honors my father too – Iverson.
So began the task of trying to get everything switched, everything moved about, telling everyone, and on and on. It was . . . exhausting. More so because of the explanations, the work to explain why, the confidence slowly dropped again so by the time I was under my name, I was worn down. I’d spent all the time working to boost the A.H. Browne, and I knew I was disappointing my readers who may wanna read the work I continued to put out if they hadn’t known of the changes. I knew I was disappointing everything around me trying to keep up with the changes. Trust me, many made it clear. One gets loads of flack for changing ones name a few times.
And then . . . there is Goodreads and Amazon. Too powerful companies who will do as they choose. I only recently learned that a lot of my work (that has only ever been published under Kim Iverson) wasn’t even linked to my author page. I had to manually go in and link it, but some of it was. Goodreads is the similar. I spent tons of time changing work on Goodreads, only to have the librarians go in and change it back. I had a friend who was also a librarian even put a note on my work that I wanted it changed, and left alone. Not to be deceitful. Because it wasn’t the right cover. Or bio. Or information. But on the site, many held the belief (I saw them say it in the forums), that authors purposely try to be deceitful. I’d seen this one post from a librarian actually laugh about changing an author’s work back to the way they decided it should be, not the author.
That was about when I finally quit using the site, supporting the site, and rarely ever touched it. I have been told a lot of my work is still listed under the old information. So I have given up. Sites will show whatever they want. I learned that lesson when I have seen a report someone can buy online of all emails a person has ever used. All websites ever attached to them. Yup. For about $30 someone can get addresses you’ve used, emails, websites, socials, and so much more. A lot of it is linked to your name and it’s not even accurate – say me being currently married? smh I’m not?
So I realized through those things I could only control so much and had decided a site that allowed that behavior was not a site I would associate with. Doesn’t mean I will never ever touch it, just means I have since threw my hands up. Frustration level – high. I tried my hardest to correct all the information so readers could continue to follow where I published, what name I used, and ended up letting it go. I would love to help them continue to find me, but I’m one person and can only do so much.
I am not going to entirely hate on either site. They give breaks for people who need them. They help us, they help you, so I am cognizant of that when I speak of this. I want you to be as well. They are not evil. They help plenty. These are just critiques I have.
I know that people will believe what they want, and usually it’s not the truth. I just found a site (won’t name them) who reviewed work from someone I used to engage with a lot, and who was an author. She was with a very small publishing house, but this reviewer labeled her an indie because Goodreads listed her as such (also not naming the author). She had decided to change her pen name from either real to a pen. Or real to a pen. Can’t remember. I noticed that the reviewer called her both names as if she was nuts because on GR the site lists her as one name, but the cover shows different. I imagine my own work is done that way. Mostly likely she changed her information, but the librarians changed to conform as they chose. It’s disruptive to someone to have to explain things. I imagine we are not the only who have dealt with that.
So understand that if you see my work listed under different names. My work is on this site. Anything I use, anything I write under, will be on this site. I have been using my own name for six years as of June 2021. I have been published under A.H. Browne, then Ariana Browning before then, but I don’t use those names anymore. As of late, I’ve been back and forth on experiements I may try.
I may publish something under A.H. Browne soon just to include this information inside of it. Juuuustttt to try to work as a redirect? In case anyone looks up that name and wants to find me. Might even make them free so that I don’t really have to manage the work. I reclaimed my domain for it so I can redirect to here in case someone grabs a copy of the work and types the name into the address bar too.
I have been contemplating using my full name on covers to match this site domain (only one I could get back then – full name) to see what happens, if people grab it. And as a test run in case I finally get fed up with people thinking I am the YouTube Kim Iversen, and I wanna use my full name on my work. I wanted Kim Iverson because it’s what I’m always using. It’s natural. Everyone in my life knows me under that name, it’s the name I’ve used all my life. I didn’t know the radio Kim was still going strong when I went with that name. I also didn’t know Kim Iverson Headlee was publishing with that name.
There is a book of mine that I haven’t seen sales with which is due for a re-title anyway, and maybe new cover. That is the one I may try out under my full name – Kimberly Sue Iverson. To see how it does for sales. Because again, Kimberly – feminine. People will argue about me saying that, but again, people do pickie. I had people who knew my sweet and bubbly personality and struggled to grasp that I wrote horror. There is still a stigma with female writers, with feminine names on books, with people being critical.
Just like indies are put down a lot. Some will say – if it’s indie I won’t read it. I bet I could hand them a few traditionally published books I have and tell them to read it (remove cover and author name) and they’d think it was indie with all the errors. I understand the gripes, I have them to, but the stigma that “quality” only comes from traditional needs to change. There are indies who spend more time and effort, or just as much, on improving, and giving the reader the best story possible. Yes, there are plenty who are crappy. But then I’ve known plenty of crappy men and women in my life. Does that mean all humans are then?
This is what I think needs to change. The auto assumption that “indie” means crap. Or traditional means good. Many independents DO go traditional. They DO start indie and then get a publishing contract and throw all the “indie” out the window. But they are still labeled indie. I don’t agree with that. I also don’t agree that having a publishing house means that they are better than not. It takes little effort to get a license and say you’re a publishing house. Then have some authors sign up. So if you’re one (I have seen your posts) who also think that means better quality? It doesn’t. Nor does traditionally published mean better quality. I have been around long enough, and followed plenty, to see those traditionally published authors mention that they weren’t done editing a book, but had to hand it off to be published to meet a deadline. Which means – half edited book hit the shelves.
The sad reality about writing, about reading, is that there is no perfect way to do it. There is not perfect grammar. There is no consensus on what is right or wrong. There is no “perfect,” and someone will always hate it. Maybe just because they’re having a bad day. Maybe because it is deserved. Someone can have atrocious grammar, but tell a good story. Someone can have textbook perfect grammar and that story is absolutely dull (I removed life from my original stories when I did grammar and writing as it “should” be.) Even editors can disagree on what is right or wrong. Same with publishing houses. Same with writers. There isn’t a soul on earth who agrees whole-heartedly with another on everything.
Shall we start the oxford comma debate as a perfect example? By the way, I like it. I am for it.
The reality is – nobody has this business figured out. We are all going to fail one way or another. I have failed miserably over and over again. Somehow I keep getting up, dusting myself off, trying another route, and persevering. That’s really what it’s about. I am nearly ten years into publishing at this point. I doubt even Stephen King has it figured out right now. You do things, they work or they don’t. You shift and try something else. You adapt, you learn, you grow. You fail, you get up, and try again.
I have made many mistakes and I am sure that I will make many more. One thing that I can tell you though? I’ll always be open because I’m not going anywhere. Even if it gets to the point I have to step back from socials, or the internet, and become more private (I don’t like tons of attention thrown my way), I’m still gonna chronicle my process, my progress, and be open about it.
Part of why I wanted to write this was in case I do publish something under the old pen name. Or to explain why I’d done so, and list the names in case someone ever searches for them again. I can link this post for anyone who’s thinking of a pen name to also say look – REALLY think about it. You may lose readers. I have had people think that my work was written by more than one person so stopped reading. No. This is me. My failures, my successes. The work that I published that I felt was a little to vulgar (was clearly working something out in me), badly written, and/or not as original as I wanted it, I pulled. Those are books you won’t find listed for sale.
But I am me. I can only be me. I can’t try to fit into what others want of me. I won’t. I’ve done that. I won’t again because where are they now? I hope to write books you enjoy reading, but at the end of the day I enjoy what I write. I hope to continue this as long as I possibly can. People may see me as all the reasons you don’t do something, or all the reasons you do. I do the best I can daily and try to improve every day.
This site is my home online. This is where to find me. The work on here is my own. So this is where you can double-check things.
If I have a social, it will be linked on here. If it’s not – I either gave it up because it was an old one and won’t use it anymore (one day will delete), or it’s not mine. If you want to verify something – ask me. All my life I’ve had people believe things about me that weren’t true. The one thing I’ve always said – just come and ASK me. Simplest solution so few ever bother. They happily believe rumors and lies about people. Weirdest quirk in human nature. My door is always open, more so about writing, and I’m not gonna be an a-hole, even if you wanna critique. If I can help someone out there, I will. I fought many battles to get to where I’m at, but I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
Hopefully this answers questions as to why I’d switched stuff, and did things, or why I am always saying really think about it if you wanna use a pen name. I have been fighting back out of that hole for a very long time. I’m sure it will all work out in the end as it was meant to, but it’s taken me a long time and a lot of work to get back out of that hole I dug myself. If I can ask any questions, let me know.
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