To choose a pen name or to not choose a pen name that is the question???
So why do people choose a pen name over their own name? Well there are many reasons why an author may go with a pen name;
- Someone else who is an author might already have that name and use it with their own books. Which is a bummer if you really wanted it in your own name but it could end up confusing readers if you went ahead a used that name which is already out there, for example if Author Mercedes Prunty wrote a book called Junia (Hehe small plug there), then another author came along and called their author self Mercedes Prunty and wrote a book called ’30 days of writing tips’ and set it free into the book world, fans and readers of the first Mercedes Prunty might think the book is hers and not the other or when they type in your name they come up with her site and books and buy into her not you. In this case a pen name is a good idea but it doesn’t have to be a complete difference from your own name, maybe go for initials such as ‘M.N.Prunty’. Which is different to Mercedes Prunty and people can recognise the differences. Although those are my initials so please don’t use them unless of course you really are a ‘M.N.Prunty’ lol.
- To keep their identity secret. Some people are scared of the fact that readers will know who they are so might use a pen name to hide their real life and although this may work well it could also alienate readers from the writer. Readers like to research their favourite authors and find out things about them. Even if you have chosen a pen name for the reason for number 1 you could at least say but my real name is such and such and this is my world. But to ignore the readers completely is a no no… Although in saying that as long as you connect with them as your chosen name things should be smooth sailing.
- Legal reasons. I don’t really understand legalities but there might be legal reasons that prevent a person using their real name. Maybe they are in witness protection and want to use a pen name so people cannot correlate it back to them. What ever their reason it works for them.
- Some authors use a pen name because they feel their name doesn’t suit their chosen genre or they may have already written in one genre but doesn’t want that name to be in a different genre. For example M.N.Prunty could have written many brilliant erotica books but wants to write something more… Political or academic (Not bashing erotica just an example guys) but being associated with that name might put respective readers off, so that’s when the pen name comes in handy.
- Some authors also use pen names when they are switching publishers. One example I heard of was when an authors books haven’t done well, their work has bombed. So to wipe the slate clean they start again with a new name and identity in the hope that readers won’t find out about their ‘bad, unsuccessful works’.
- Another reason many female writers have turned to a pen name is because once upon a time women writers were not looked upon as ‘good’ author material so took on male alter egos to get their work published. Luckily today things are more diverse in the book realm but some women authors still do it.
- An author may choose one to cross genre’s too. For example Stephen King writes horror but say he chose to write a romantic comedy, wouldn’t you as the reader be confused or annoyed if you picked up his new book and it wasn’t what you expected from him? Some authors do this so they don’t upset their readership following, especially those die hard fans who would troll the life out of someone for hopping genres. (Although to be honest I’ve crossed from Fantasy to Horror a few times but that’s quite a subtle change compared to Horror to Romance).
These are the many reasons but at the end of the day its all up to you and how you want you and your work to be portrayed. I didn’t chose one because my name is unusual and not used in the book world other than by me, I also wanted people to know it was my work, (I always wanted my name in print on a book hehe). What ever you chose good luck.