Frequently Asked Questions
WHY THE PEN NAME?
Authors choose pen names for a variety of reasons. Some want to keep their writing selves separate from their personal selves. Others choose a nom de plume for works that might be of a different genre from what they write under their own name. Others still, like Stephen King, choose a pen name because of overexposure and high productivity.
For me--none of the above. It was my publisher’s choice to go with the pen name. The name choice, however, was mine. And the reason was to fool the bookstore chains.
While writing my fourth novel, ELIXIR, my agent called to say that director Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Thelma and Louise", "Gladiator") wanted to option the book. That was wonderful news. Seeing high potential in the book, my publisher Tor/Forge (St. Martin's Press) decided to publish a lot more of it than had been published of my previous titles. But they wanted me to go with a pen name for ELIXIRin fact, to be debuted as a first novel even though this would have been my 4th. And the reason: They wanted to fool the bookstore chains (Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks, etc.) which ultimately determine what books sell in North America, more so than all the independent stores.
When the chains order an author’s books, they check his or her sales of the previous title. And since ELIXIR was to have a much larger print-run than my previous titles, they didn’t want to take the chance that it would be under-ordered. Thus Gary Braver--new kid on the block.
About the name. My only guidelines were short and front of the alphabet. Short I understood well. Front of the alphabet, it was explained, came from buying-pattern studies showing that customers browsing titles on those front-of-the-store shelves marked "New Releases" usually stopped around authors whose names begin with K. (If you're Zuckerman or Zanini, you're buried at the back shelves bottom.) Yeah, they’ve got it down to a science. I came up with Braver which is the translation of my grandfather's first name from the Armenian.
Alas, after a second option Ridley Scott passed on making the movie. However, the book is still available for optioning.