A question came up in a recent audiobook class about pseudonyms, and whether you need them in other areas of voiceover.
The short answer is no. You generally don’t need a pseudonym for elearning or commercials.
For example, In audiobooks, you may need a pseudonym if you work in several audiobook genres where clients in one may not want to work with narrators from another. So if you do kids books or religious books, those clients may not want a narrator who also does erotica or romance. A pseudonym solves that problem and is a common tool for audiobook narrators who work in both areas.
This question also gets at a larger issue, namely what name will you use for voiceover? What’s your “stage name”? And that’s part of the even larger question of “What’s your brand in voiceover?” What are you known for or what’s special about your sound? What’s a memorable “handle” you can give to prospective clients?
I use my nickname for VO: Jack. I wanted a VO identity that a) separated my personal life (under my full name, John) from my business life (including separate email addresses), and b) was easy to SPELL, since I’ve spent my whole life spelling my last name for people! Hence, “Jack @ Jack West Coast dot com.” Easy to spell, easy to email or find the website, after hearing it.
My slogan is “The Voice of Character.” This implies both character voices and a solid, reliable person to hire, since the word “character” has a couple of meanings.
Anyway, long story short: think about how you’re going to brand yourself if you go pro in VO. Further, if you work in audiobooks, realize that one brand may not fit all the areas you work in.
TVAS offers a branding workshop from time to time. Keep an eye out for it later this year.
(Oh, yes, I do have an audiobook pseudonym, too. But I can’t tell you here because then it wouldn’t be “pseudo” anymore!)
What’s in a name? Make it a conscious choice.