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Why the Pen Name?

January 11, 2022

This is another installment of how I independently published The Legend of Lop-eared Larry. The book was released January 2. Plus book signing dates.

Freedom to choose

Self-publishing this story meant I could exercise more creative freedom in all aspects of the book. One piece is the author. I had already self-published two other children’s books. At the time, I was hoping my name and reputation in the children’s book field would help sales. Well, it didn’t. (Covid didn't help either.) So I thought, if it doesn’t matter if my name is on the book, then why not put another name on the cover and see if sales are any different? That’d be one way to see if the story could stand on its own. That's when I decided to use a pen name.

How did I come up with the pen name? 

At the time I was thinking about self-publishing The Legend of Lop-eared Larry one of my favorite design shows, Project Runway, was on. There was a designer whose name was Hester and she was really cool and talented. Plus the name Hester sounded  “old-fashioned” to me which is exactly the tone I wanted for my book. The last name came from wanting a word that sounded “country” as in someone who might live in the countryside of England. I also wanted it to sound wholesome and earthy. That’s where Applebee came from. Apples and bees are images that are easy to visualize and therefore remember. I also wanted a last name starting with “A” since with Wing I typically ended up at the end and bottom of bookshelves. Now I’ll be at the beginning!

Writing the biography of a fictional person

Now that I had a name, I had a persona. I envisioned a joyful elderly lady who adored her nephew, and together they shared the love of bunnies and Easter. Aunt Hester would of course be a captivating storyteller, and Georgie, her nephew, would beg his auntie to tell him more about Larry the lop-eared rabbit. So that’s how I envisioned this story originated – as a loving tale from aunt to nephew. In the back of the book you can read about Hester Applebee.

Here's a photo of "Georgie," the inspiration for the nephew, that I bought at an estate sale. 

The challenges of a pen name

When registering my book with the Library of Congress I had to list it under Hester Applebee as the author, but then included Natasha Wing as the designer. Also when registering it with Ingram and Amazon, the title had to have the pen name. Inside the book on the copyright page I decided to include: Hester Applebee is a pen name of Natasha Wing. 

All the pre-promotion on my social media was starting to confuse people – like when I showed an early cover design, people wondered why I was promoting Hester’s book and calling it mine. So when I sent out review copies I explained why I used a pen name to clear up the confusion.  I suppose I’ll have to figure out how to direct online searches to my website, too.

Another challenge was when illustrator Brittany David and I got together to co-autograph the first print run. I had to really concentrate on signing Hester Applebee. Out of about 100, I only messed up once! I tried to make Hester’s signature a little different than mine. It’ll be interesting to see the reaction when I do in-person book signings!

I have a few signings already set up: (subject to change due to Covid)

Saturday, January 22, Harrington Gallery of Contemporary Art, 1573 So. Pearl St., Denver, CO, 

Saturday, February 12 at Wandering Jellyfish, 198 2nd Ave, Niwot, CO 

Saturday, March 26, Bunny felting class and book signing at Blue Moose Gallery, 4032 So. College Ave, Fort Collins, CO

Saturday, April 2, 11am, Clothes Pony, 111 No. College, Fort Collins

Sunday, April 10, 11am, Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream, 114 S. College Ave., Fort Collins


Or you can order your copy here

Comment below if you have used a pen name and how you dealt with it.


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