Why Do Authors Use Pen Names?

Updated on January 29, 2018
What is the point of using a pen name?
What is the point of using a pen name? | Source

Why Use a Pen Name?

Many of our favorite authors write under one, or maybe more, pseudonyms. There are actually quite a few reasons why an author would choose to use a pen name. Whether you are deciding to become a writer of any sort, or just curious as to why this occurs, here are some of the reasons why writers choose to write under a pen name. If you choose to use a pseudonym yourself, I have also provided ways that you might choose your own, based on how authors in the past have chosen theirs. Once you have chosen a pen name, there are also a few steps you may want to follow to make sure that name is original.

Remember, I am not a legal professional so it is important to seek advice from a professional on any further questions regarding issues like contracts or copyrights.

How do you choose a pen name?
How do you choose a pen name? | Source

Reasons for Using a Pen Name in Writing

  1. Privacy: Using a different name for writing is one way of simply allowing yourself to have more privacy. Whether an author is writing something controversial or they have a career in government or teaching, using a pen name can enable an author to publish their work while keeping their privacy intact. Sometimes a political stance or belief can endanger a writer's life so a pen name can be useful.
  2. Genre: Some authors prefer not to be recognized within their genre simply because they do not want everyone to know what they do. This is usually for genres like erotica or politics. Furthermore, some authors may use a pen name because their actual names just don't suit the genre they're writing for. See the YouTube video below for an example of this scenario. Another reason authors choose pseudonyms is because they may branch out to a new genre and what their work in each genre to be considered separately as they try to branch out to a new readership.
  3. Gender: We might not do it on purpose, but most readers tend to judge an author's name as male or female at first glance. For some readers, the gender of the author may affect their decision to read a book just because they believe only certain genders can/should write within certain genres. Using a pen name that is gender neutral can eliminate this issue completely.
  4. Sales: An author may choose to use a pen name in their writing because their real name may be too complicated for a reader to remember or pronounce. They may also have a name that's too similar to well known authors and they want to make sure that readers do not associate them with another's work. Even if gender, privacy, or genre isn't a problem, sometimes an author's real name just wouldn't attract as much readership as a pen name might.
  5. Co-Writers: Some authors co-write and use just one name even though two or more people may have actually written the work.
  6. Fun: For some writers, writing under a pseudonym is just plain fun. The anonymity gives them freedom of voice and a separation of their work from their personal daily lives.

Why Do Authors Use Pen Names?

How to Choose a Pen Name

If you decide to become a writer, one of the first decisions to make is whether or not you will use a pen name. If you don't already have a name in mind, here are a few tips on how to choose one to help you brainstorm your own pseudonym.

  1. Identify Your Audience: What genre are you writing under? What age group is your target? Your pen name should reflect the audience you hope to attract to your writing. A good name reflects your brand as an author and your work.
  2. Check Out Books in Your Genre: Take a peek at some of the top books within your genre, paying particular attention to the authors of those books and their pen names. Are they mostly male or female? Do they tend to use full names or initials? Looking at other pen names authors have used in your genre may help lead you in the right direction for your own pen name.
  3. Keep it Simple: Make sure that the pen name you choose is not difficult to remember or spell. So many readers use searches on Google or Amazon for their books. You wouldn't want them to be stumped on how to spell it or make it hard to remember.
  4. Is it Available? Your pen name will be essential in choosing a URL for a site and for reader's searches online. Checking that your name of choice hasn't already been used may help you decide on the best one for future use. You may also want to be sure that there aren't pen names out there that are really similar to the one you are considering.
  5. Originality: Most importantly, be sure to choose a pen name that is not really similar to any other author or famous person out there. The closer your name is to someone already well known, the more likely that someone would have to sift through many other sites or articles on that other person before being able to find you and your work online.
  6. Name Generator: Another option is to search for name generators online or peruse baby name sites for ideas. Some of the best pen names to choose are those that are trendy and fit perfectly within your genre. Some name generators enable you to specify culture or gender.

What to do once you choose a pen name
What to do once you choose a pen name | Source

What to do Once You've Picked a Pen Name

Once you have chosen a pen name, there are a few steps you may want to follow to claim it.

  1. Research: Besides Google, you may want to check to be sure that the pen name you have chosen is not already taken as a domain or trademarked by someone else. Search for your name (without spaces) and add ".com" to see if the domain is taken. You can search for trademarks here. Try to avoid using the name of a real person or any names similar to famous people.
  2. Claim the Domain: If it hasn't been taken already, you can go ahead and claim the domain for your pen name if that is what you want to do. This will be essential for branding and advertising yourself via a website if you desire.
  3. Use It: You and your publisher will be able to distinguish when your pen name is used and when you use your real name. Your name may be on the cover of your works but you may have to use your real name in the copyright, for example.
  4. Register Your Copyright: This is a step to consult with a legal professional.

Remember, choosing a pen name does not mean that you are completely anonymous with your writing. You are also not creating a secret identity so do not go overboard creating a fake biography to go with your name.

More Tips on How to Choose a Pen Name

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Lisa

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Shalini singh 

        6 weeks ago

        Thanks Lisa your article was very good and helpful

      • Larry Fish profile image

        Larry W Fish 

        6 months ago from Raleigh

        I enjoyed your article, Lisa. I have often know that certain authors use pen names, but I never knew why. You have given me insight as to the reasons. Thanks!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        9 months ago from USA

        I liked this. Obviously my name isn’t Flourish but I feel like I can be more open when I’m writing about HR or medical topics than if I were to use my real name.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)