If you have considered writing a book, you have probably encountered the question of what name you should use as your “author name.” For some people, the decision is easy – they use their “real name.” But for others, it may not be a straight forward decision. Here are five reasons you may want to use a pen name.
1. You have a conflict of interest.
Sometimes you are working in a field that frowns upon outside activities, such as writing books. Or you are a teacher who wants to write adult novels. In those cases, you don’t want your “real” name to appear as the author. So of course, this is the perfect time to use a pen name.
2. You don’t want your own name to appear.
If you are concerned about your privacy or safety, it’s a good idea to use a pen name. It makes finding you more difficult and may be the safer option in your case.
3. Your name is hard to spell or easily confused.
Let’s face it. Your parents weren’t envisioning you as an author when they named you. So your name may have an unusual spelling that won’t show easily in search engines. Likewise, it could be difficult to pronounce, so word of mouth marketing for your books will be a challenge.
In this case, make it easier to find you with a pen name.
4. You want to write in specific genres that suffer from gender stereotyping.
There are certain prejudices in the book market that assume that certain types of books are written by one gender or another. A good example, is Nora Roberts, who also writes under the pen name J.D. Robb. Her romance novels use the Nora name, while her other books use the Robb name.
Likewise there are some men who believe their romance novels sell better when they use a female name as the author. It lets them more easily fit the mold, particularly when they first begin to publish in that area.
5. You want to avoid confusion in the marketplace
If you are a prolific writer, you may find it easier to publish under multiple names. For example, I write business books under my own name. That’s what I’m known for. But I write cookbooks and personal development books under pen names. While I’m not a celebrity in those arenas, I do have a following for the pen names as well.
This gives you five good reasons for using a pen name – beyond just for fun! If you can think of other reasons to use a pen name, please share them in the comments below.
In the next article, I will discuss how to manage pen names. Meanwhile, here are more resources to explore on this topic:
Here is a related blog post that offers other considerations before deciding to use a pen name: http://penandmuse.com/when-you-should-and-shouldnt-use-a-pen-name/
Here are seveal self-published authors talking about why they use pen names: http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-should-the-self-published-author-use-a-pen-name-pseudonym/
And if you’re wondering how to choose a pen name, here’s a good place to start: http://www.smallbluedog.com/how-to-choose-a-pen-name.html
Or you can use the Random Name Generator at http://www.behindthename.com/random/