What’s in a Name? I asked myself this question not too long ago, reasoning that the name Brenda Poulos might not be so memorable. Maybe I’d need something shorter, flashier, similar to some other well-known person… I’d piggy-back off of their fame…
Some writers use pen names. I was curious to find out why, so I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found out:
1) Most well-known authors write in a certain genre. They become known as a Suspense Writer, for example. Then, perhaps they want to add another genre to their writing repertoire. Publishers may not like this for several reasons. Same with their fans. So, they write in the “new” genre under a pen name.
2) Some writers, I found out, start writing under a pen name when they are looking to switch publishers. (The internet article cautioned against doing this. I can see all kinds of legal reasons why this wouldn’t be a good idea.)
3) Writers, whose earlier work(s) may have bombed, might want to use a pen name when they publish something “new.”
4) Pseudonyms are often used by authors who have names similar to someone else. (Hum, opposite of my earlier idea…)
5) If a writer thinks his/her name doesn’t suit the genre, he might want to choose a pen name. This happened when Pearl Gray changed his name to Zane Gray to appear more like a western author.
6) Women who write in a genre that is usually written in by men, often use their first initials and last name. (For example, in westerns).
7) Sometimes several authors write books together. They choose a fictitious name, making their audience think the books are written by one person, when they actually are not.
8) Sometimes writers want to protect their identity if they are writing in a genre in conflict with their main profession. For example, a surgeon who writes a murder mystery about a killer who dissects his victims. Yikes!
9) Some of us are shy and just don’t want publicity. It’s possible to conceal one’s true identity by using a pseudonym.
10) Finally, if you want your name to be catchy and memorable, start making your list of possible pen names.
There you have it. Ten reasons to use a pseudonym—or not.
Do you currently use a pen name? I’d be interested in learning why you do so and if it has worked out well for you.