Writing Under a Pen Name
Posted On: 2014-10-22
by: Mercedes Tabano

22nd, 2014
Throughout history, many authors have used pen names. Mark Twain, George Sands, Richard Bachman, and C.S. Lewis, are all pen names. These names have worked well for these authors, but the real question is, will a pen name work well for you?

Why You Need One...

Keeping The Genres Separate

One of the best reasons to use a pen name is to keep your genres separate. For example, if you write about building backyard henhouses, choosing the best wine, fables for children and erotica, keeping these genreís separate is crucial to your success. You could be writing excellent books in all these genres. However, in your readerís eyes, youíve just lost credibility.

Frees Up Your Writing

Fiction authors who use pen names report that they feel freer when they use a pen name. They say this helps write in a way they never could otherwise. For example, Stephen King writes under the name Richard Bachman when he wants to try stories that are more experimental. Even though his pen name is widely known now, he still writes under it. This way, he doesnít alienate his normal fans with a story too far outside his scope. His fans know that Bachmanís stories are a little more out there, and theyíre good with that.

Disguises Your Gender

Another reason to use a pen name is if you are writing in a genre that traditionally is dominated by the opposite sex. For example, romances and chick lit are usually written by woman, while thriller and horror are traditionally written by men. In such cases, youíll want to use a gender-neutral name.

Avoids Confusion

Do have an unusual name? If the answer is no, then you might discover that someone has already published a book in Ďyourí name, because after all, itís their name, too. Writing under a pen name will help voice the confusion of two ĎJane Doughísí publishing in different genres.

Choosing A Pen Name...

There are many ways to choose a pen name. Things to keep in mind are the gender and the way it sounds. If youíre writing in a genre dominated by the opposite sex, you might want to choose a gender-neutral pen name, such as initials plus last name, or crossover names such as Ashley, Kelly, Connie, Blaine and so on.

Another factor to keep in mind is ethnicity. Think of your target market. Do they belong to a certain ethnicity? If so, youíll want to choose a pen name that sounds like someone in that group. Great places to find ideas for names are name generators, baby name books and census reports.

DBA as Pen Name...

Itís been ruled that corporations are people with all rights and privileges thereof. Now, if youíre just starting out, thereís no need to incorporate yet. However, you might want to check into getting a DBA (Doing Business As) designation. This enables you to open bank accounts, credit cards, and cash checks all in your pen name.

Once you have decided on your pen name, you can start claiming the social media properties associated with this name. These includes such sites like Twitter, Facebook, your own website, YouTube and Google +. Some of these sites have rules saying you must use your real name. However if a company is a businesses, and a business is a person, then you should be fine. Of course, social media sties sometimes have no rhyme or reason to why they do what they do, so tread carefully.

There are many reasons to use a pen name, but some authors report thatís the best thing they can do for their careers. Itís important to know that in todayís modern world, chances are you will not remain anonymous very long. The layer of protection that a pen name provides is paper-thin. The best way to handle this is to mention up front that it is a pen name. Even if you donít give your real name, acknowledging that itís a pen name wonít disturb your readers when they find out who you really are.

Until Next Time,
Mercedes Tabano