Should Your Use a Pen Name or Your Actual Name?
Many authors use pen names. There are a number of benefits for using a pen name as outlined below. There are also some negatives associated with pen names, primarily when it comes to non-fiction authors and building their personal brand.
Pen Name Definition
A pen name (nom de plume or literary double) is a pseudonym adopted by an author. It is a fictitious name used by an author in place of their actual name. A pen name may be used to make the author’s name more distinctive, to disguise his or her gender, to distance an author from some or all of his or her works.
Just as movie stars use fictitious names for their ‘acting name,’ so do authors for writing. Musicians also often use alternative names to their birth name.
Why Would an Author Use a Pen Name?
1. They Don’t Like Their Birth Name
Unfortunately we cannot choose our names when we are born. However, we can change them later on as adults if we do not like our name. For some authors, they may have a name that also belongs to a well-known actor, fellow author, criminal or politician that people will associate their name with.
2. They Believe That Their Birth Name is Not Representative of Their eBook
Some authors wish to choose a name that draws attention to their eBook. How would you like to have a surname that is ‘money’ and write an eBook about finance?
3. They Were Born With a Name That Contains Certain Unfortunate ‘Inappropriate’ Words
Unfortunately some surnames are also used for medical products, pharmaceutical products or are also used as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘swear’ words.
4. They Wish to Hide Their Identity
Some authors do not want a public life. They do not wish to conduct signings, speak or be interviewed in public. They don’t want fans to be able to track them down.
5. They Wish to Maintain a High Level of Privacy
Becoming a well-known author will intrude on your privacy. For some, this is something that they do not wish to give up.
6. Their Birth Name is Too Long
Some names just contain too many letters or are hyphenated.
7. People Are Unable to Spell Their Birth Name
Some names are difficult to spell. This will only cause issues for interviews, your author platform and branding purposes.
8. People Are Unable to Pronounce Their Birth Name
Many international names are difficult to pronounce.
9. Their Birth Name is Not Memorable
A memorable name can help promote an eBook. Some authors want to create a more powerful or attention grabbing name.
10. Some Authors Believe Using a Pen Name Just Adds to Their Creativity
Why not be creative and choose your own name. Many fiction authors like to do this.
11. You Can Remain Anonymous to Your Friends, Family and Those Who Know You
Sometimes the topic of your eBook may not be well received by those who know you. Many authors of erotica eBooks change their names for this reason.
12. In Case You Re-marry You Can Still Continue to Use Your Pen Name for Writing
What if you are a well-known author who gets married and is faced with changing your name? A pen name won’t be affected if you do get married.
13. Write eBooks for Different Genres
Some authors write eBooks for completely different genres and don’t want to use the same name for both. If you write a fiction book as well as a non-fiction eBook you may want different names so that you can build your brand specifically for each niche market and that there is no cross-over. For example; being an author of a romance novel may not go down too well with your fans of a martial arts training eBook you have also produced.
14. Avoid Retribution
Some authors have had to go into hiding for many years due to the content of their eBook offending certain groups based on religion or political reasons.
If you are considering using a pen name then please give it a lot of thought before taking this step. It is very difficult to change you name down the track, especially if your open name has become well known as your fans will buy your eBooks or products based purely on you brand (your name.)
Pen names are often more associated with fiction authors. Non-fiction authors who are trying to build their brand and establish themselves as an expert within their niche field are often required to use their birth names.