The House Name


Author James Reasoner, the hardest working guy in publishing, talks about what it's like to have most of his work published under "house names" — author bylines owned by the publisher — like Tabor Evans, for instance. He says, in part:

At last count, novels and stories I’ve written have been published under at least 35 different names.[…]

In the past month I’ve worked on projects that will be published under four different names, none of them my own. People have asked me, “How can you write a book knowing that your name won’t be on it?” For years my standard answer was, “I don’t care as long as my name is on the check.” Of course that’s not completely true, now or then. Writing has been my job for more than three decades now, and getting paid is important. But most writers love to see a new book with their name on it, and I’m no different. If we didn’t have egos, it probably wouldn’t even occur to us that people might want to read what we write, would it? I’ve been blessed with the ability to put those feelings aside when I’m working, at least to a certain extent. When I’m sitting at the computer, the words appearing on the monitor are my words. The book I’m writing is mine. When it’s published, my name may not be anywhere on it, but that has no bearing on the writing itself. I know it’s good, and I feel a surge of pride when I see the books in the store and know that people are reading them and enjoying them. So when you come right down to it, the answer to the question “Who am I today?” is simple and always the same.

I’m a guy writing a book, spinning a yarn. That’s all I ever wanted to be.

5 thoughts on “The House Name”

  1. Lee / James –
    But is there any restriction in your contract that says you can’t promote the fact that you’ve written x number of novels in the best-selling Longarm series under the name?
    Is there a certain amount of time that has to pass? Any sort of industry standard there?
    Bill Cunningham

  2. Reasoner can write anything and do a good job. Dust Devils is real good.
    Bill Crider once mentioned something about Reasoner doing some ghost writing where he could not say anything about the work. I assume that was a big name author who wants to keep their slack a secret. Corporate author names like TABOR EVANS are no secret.
    Goldberg posted before about a recent book listing series authors and pseudonyms.

  3. Some contracts for house name books say that you’re not supposed to claim them, other contracts don’t even mention it. And the actual authorship of the books seems to be a fairly open secret.
    The ghost work is entirely different. I’ve done a number of books that I can’t reveal publicly. On some of them, probably less than half a dozen people even know I had anything to do with them.


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