A rose by any other name …
Do you want to feel mysterious or just always hated your name? Well legally you could just go change your name then. Look at prince. Now his name is symbol – eh er, or maybe it’s the Artist Formally Known as Prince since you can’t actually type in the symbol. Okay bad example. Why is this a bad example? Because he chose something that would make him nearly unsearchable. Had he not had a HUGE name and a HUGE following I doubt he’d have succeeded in his change. I am not a Prince fan – no offense to those that are, but he is an example of what not to do for someone starting out.
• Now if you have a very common name or you need or want to keep your anonymity then a Pen Name could be a great option. I have an author friend who has a horror story of an ex and needs to remain hidden; that’s a great reason to have a pen name even though there are ways to hide your private information.
• Another example to use a pen name is if you write two very different genres or two genres that you don’t think the readerships would mix. If you write YA by day and erotica by night, I would suggest a pen name for one. You don’t want a YA to pick up a copy of your erotica by accident. I had this happen – not YA to erotica, but Contemporary Romance to erotica. I had no idea this author wrote both. Talk about a bit of a shock when page 4 had some explicate things occurring already.
• Have you published under another name and had bad sales or did you self publish and not do as well as hoped? Well a pen name could reinvent you.
• Trying to hide from the day job or from family? Well a pen name will help. Granted they have to be searching for you to find anything. Maybe my family isn’t very curious or maybe they are the norm, no one suspected me of writing. Even now they all just seem to wave it off as a crazy notion. I don’t know why I was afraid of family finding out and I don’t make enough for my day job to care.
When choosing a name Google it. See what comes up. No point in going from one common name to another, or choosing a name a million others already use. Don’t go for hard to recognize or hard to pronounce. You can always go by initials too such as JK Rowling.
There are a bunch of reasons that a pen name can be a good option, but there are reasons to stay who you are also. It’s easier to brand you as you after all. There is also something exciting about seeing your name on the cover or in Amazon. I recently got to hear another authors take on why she chose to go with a pen name. See that post here. I did not go with a pen name – not yet. Part of me wishes I’d done something a little different since my name is fairly common. But for now it will work. Please don’t stalk me. That would be highly unappreciated, although flattering to know I had fans.
How about you? Did you or didn’t you? Will you or won’t you? What are you reasons for staying with your name or choosing a pen name?
A related article with a few more things I didn’t think of. Karen Woodward