Alexandre Dumas May Be Dead But He Still Makes Headlines and You Can Too

Alexandre Dumas is an author who still makes headlines — he’s been dead for over 140 years! And he’s one of my favorite authors. Alexandre’s books such as The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Cristo and other books have been made into Hollywood movies over and over again. Some of them are good, and some are not so good. But the point is Alexandre Dumas’ books are still read by millions of people and directors and producers continue to make movies based on his work. Talk about having the ‘it’ factor!

Why is Alexandre Dumas still popular? For one thing, he loved what he did and he was a versatile author. He had a rich family history which he used to his advantage. Did you know that one of his ancestors was a general in Napoleon’s army?  Unfortunately, this particular ancestor wasn’t serving in the army long, but he still earned the right to say, “I served with Napoleon.”

Do you have trouble writing? Do you schedule writing time, only to find yourself working on other things? Alexandre Dumas put in 14 hour days writing into the wee hours. He also collaborated with other writers to create works such as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

Alexandre was a colorful character and could have been a character in one his novels! He was no angel but at least he was true to himself and never shied away from being his authentic self. He didn’t fret about what others would think of him, especially family and friends. Dumas lived large — emphasis on lived.

What authors and freelance writers can learn from Alexandre Dumas?

1. Use your family’s history to your advantage. If you come from a colorful family, write about it. Create characters based on people deceased and living. If you’re worried about backlash, give characters ‘extra’ characteristics that will differentiate them family and friends.

2. Write! You’ve heard this a billion times but it’s true. If you want to write a book, you must sit down and write it.

3. Forget about your closest critics. If you know you’re supposed to write a book, sit down and write it. Only speak about your books with supportive, loving people. This may not include family and friends.

4. Improve your writing by attending classes, conferences and workshops. Join writers groups, read blogs written by other writers, editors and literary agents; subscribe to the Writer’s Digest and other publications; and purchase a couple of books on writing.

5. Learn the art of sales and marketing. Like it or not, authors must become comfortable with sales and marketing. It’s important to learn how to connect with your audience. Welcome and answer their questions. Be sincere and grateful readers are buying your books. Don’t be afraid to ‘own’ and stand behind your writing. Increase your self-confidence by talking with a life or writing coach. You can be ‘all’ the writer you can be!

Whenever you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself “WWADO” What Would Alexandre Dumas Do?


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How Many Pseudos Does an Author Need?


You may be surprised to discover that your favorite authors use more than one pseudo. Best Selling Author Nora Roberts publishes under J.D. Robb. Jayne Ann Krentz uses pseudos such as Jayne Castle, Jayne Taylor, Jayne Bentley, Amanda Quick, Stephanie James, and Amanda Glass. Dean Koontz has 11. That’s a lot of pseudos! Is it necessary to use one or more pseudos aka pen names? What’s the benefit? What are the drawbacks of using a pen name? How complicated is it? Let’s find out.

Benefits of using pseudos

1. You get to disguise who you are. Perhaps, your family and friends would be flabbergasted to find out you write erotic, romance novels. Maybe you write science fiction novels but your family wouldn’t approve because they don’t believe in such things. Writing under a pen name could give you peace of mind.

2. You may have a ‘huge’ following in one genre such as mystery and but don’t want to disappoint fans who may not understand why you’re writing a children’s picture book series.

3. If you’re collaborating on a novel series, you may want to use a pseudo. This is a good way to keep your writings separate from the collaboration.

4. Your boss may not be thrilled to know you’re moonlighting as an author. Using a pseudo will keep everyone happy.

5. A pseudo or pen name may carry more ‘weight’ than your birth name. This may not be easy to hear but think about Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain. Which name do you gravitate towards? Which name screams Best-Selling Author?

How to select and use a pseudo aka pen name?

1. Brainstorm for names. After you have a list of 10 names, check with the U.S. Copyright Records; the white pages (if you still receive them), peruse the internet and other information websites. Make sure you don’t select the name of another writer.

Once you find a name you like, try it out. Create a ‘mock’ book cover in Power Point, InDesign, Word or some other program. Step back and look at the name on the cover. How do you feel about it? Do you like it? Can you imagine being introduced at a book signing as (fill in the blank)? Ask supportive family, friends, etc. to look at your book cover — get their reaction. Ultimately, it’s your decision. But feedback can assist you with selecting the ‘right’ pen name.

2. Even if you use a pseudo, readers could find out who you are. Look at Nora Roberts who publishers under J.D. Robb. I found out she was J.D. Robb because my mom told me; she’s an avid reader of her books. When I found out Nora published under J.D. Robb my reaction was, “Who know?” Obviously, I didn’t. Make sure you’re comfortable with readers knowing that you publish under pseudos.

3. Consult with an attorney to see if you must register your pen name as a DBA (doing business as) with your municipality. Remember, cities, states and countries have different laws.

4. You’re allowed to register copyrights under a pen name. However, the time frame of a copyright with your name is your life + 70 years. If you publish with a pseudo it’s the shorter of 95 years from the publication or 120 years from the creation. This can be tricky business — consult a copyright attorney. Know your rights!

5. Sometimes, processing advances and royalties is complicated when you use a pseudo. Make sure you fully understand the process. Again, consult with an attorney and ask the publisher to explain their advance and royalty payment policies and procedures.

If you choose to use a pseudo or pen name, make sure it’s for the right reasons. If you’re trying to escape paying taxes, forget about it. You’ll have to pay them. If you want to ‘blast’ your enemies or naysayers, you can still get caught and face libel and slander charges. Meditate or ponder ‘why‘ you want to use a pen name before you select and use one. It can be fun to use a pseudo, but isn’t the point of publishing to see YOUR NAME in print. It’s something to think about.


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