Being an author seems to imply a lot of opinions whether it is a good choice of career, some say it is easy because you can write about anything you want, pursue a career where you can express your creativity and inner thoughts, some say it is an easy job, you can experience more in life, it costs you nothing, etc. On the other hand there can also be some consequences like constant (possible) rejection, not everyone will like your output, you always have to sell yourself, you can experience writer’s block and decision making can sometimes be tough like even if what seems to be a simple thing like deciding on a topic, coming up with a catchy title, or if you would want to use a pen name and the list goes on. And on that note why do authors use pen names?
What are Pen Names?
A pen name also known as pseudonym (nom de plum) is used when an author wishes to remain anonymous or conceal their identities. It is an assumed name that an author will publish in place of his or her real name. In simpler sense it is an invented name by the author that may be known only to the publisher.
Writers use pen names for various reasons, for example an established author used it to distance themselves from their previous works, so they can also cross genres without infuriating their fan bases. Some use it to conceal their gender, to work with another author but show the work as a single author, for marketing purposes or simply hook the readers in simplest sense. Another reason would be to switch publishers (to avoid legal problems), and one of the most common reasons as well would be because that their previous works have flopped.
Should you Use a Pseudonym?
Using a pseudonym can be tricky, as exciting as it may seem it can also be really risky as it can be too confusing if you have many, which can also be quite difficult to balance if you have a lot. You need to establish new audience for every pen name created, which is never easy.
On the other hand it will be a good move if you tend to write in multiple areas like if you are writing novels at the moment then decided to work on a horror or even children’s books. It is also useful if you are writing about a sensitive or a controversial topic. Having a pen name is also useful if you have a day job hence you can keep your writing life separate from it.
How to Come Up with a Good Pen Name?
Choosing a pen name can be fun and can also be challenging. If you have plenty of options in mind well that is good for you since all you have to do is double check if the pen name is available, if no one is identified by that name or has a trademark for it then you are good to go. If not there are also plenty of ways to come up with a good one.
Bear in mind that you should choose something that would best describe the character or personality that you would like to portray and at the same time it should still sound unique. Don’t go for famous names as you may be accused of fraud and wanting to be “someone else” which will not be good for you. Think carefully, remember it is a creative process so let your mind think of something that has a meaning for you and something that you really want, so take your time.
You can always go for something catchy, creative, mysterious and do not go for something that is difficult to pronounce or remember. It is also important to research on the legal aspects of it, such as securing trademark, copyright and the like.
The Choice is up to You
Now the question is, to use a pen name or not? Of course the evident answer would be it’s all up to you. Whether you decide if this would be good for your branding, a mysterious approach of showcasing your works, or if it sounds not helpful at all then by all means go for it, either way the most important thing is your creation.