I have read a few things on the reason to have a pen name. I question their necessity and validity. While I see some major benefit, I also see some issues. The first issue I see is choosing a good pen name in the first place. How do you choose your own name; I mean really? Then choosing one that fits the genre and will keep you on the top shelf while being easy to remember... Sigh.
The question deep down would be, "Should I have one, and what should it be if I do?" How would an author even go about creating the pen name initially?
Well, I know a pen name can protect teachers (to an extent). If there's something racy in a book a teacher has published, they can get fired for it which is completely ridiculous, but it happens.
My friend decided to use her middle name combined with her mother's maiden name, because her novel is based on true events and she wanted to protect the identities of people the characters are based off of.
I think about my own name... as an unmarried woman, it's likely to change someday (hopefully) but I fully intend on keeping my current name if/when I get published. Unless my future husband has a really awesome name. I think it's easier for women to think of pen names because, unlike men, they have less of a connection with their name as men do. I might be wrong though
I adore my "Soap Opera Name" which is my middle name combined with the street I grew up on. Virginia Spendthrift. That's the name of a trashy erotic novelist if I've ever heard one!
I think it's up to your own situation and circumstances. I think having a pen name just for the sake of having one is a bit silly. If you do decide to have one, treat it like a character's name.
What do you want to convey with the sound of it? What will be physically close to a popular author who writes the same genre as you (What!? It's a tactic!) What is memorable?
The issue of how to choose a pen name bothers me, too. Both my married and maiden names confuse people, for different reasons. I work in government and don't want anything I write to impact my coworkers. I would also like to add another barrier between myself and obsessive creeps (who don't seem to every go away, darnit).
My husband wants me use my legal name, but he's biased. I've spent enough time throughout my life reminding people what my real first name is that I would prefer if that's a noticeable part of my pen name. Most of my childhood streets don't lend themselves to a good surname, and my mother's maiden name has a negative connotation in my mind.
Would anyone like to start an e-mail group to discuss pen names? We could try out potential names and make recommendations for one another.
I tried to choose a pen name I thought might be cool sounding but now it seems like a quarter of the writers are doing what I did. As to why have one, mots pros have them for one reason or another. Some have one for each genera they write in, I know of one writer who had a different name for each series he wrote and he had quite a few of them, all the same type I believe. Even Isaac Asimov had one at one time when he first wrote a series for younger readers.
I have a separate one for my western story and if I do any others I will use it again.
As has been said,if you choose one and how you choose it is up to you. Just pick two names that sound good. Or use one from a famous person you like. Like Jennifer Peck or Kathleen de' Aamora --- I could have Isaac Weber or Jonathan Q. Wayne or Jim J. Murphy For three writers I like. Or Lisa Patricia McGuire
apirit use your husbands first name with the Spanish or French word for love. Or find a baby book and just choose two names you like. It doesn't matter if you change genders.
And Nate I think some of those should have three names. It sounds better with three than with two.
LD, I have no desire to go by any of my husband's first names. I've assumed enough of his identity already.
quote:How would an author even go about creating the pen name initially?
Mike, I realized you might not have read previous threads on this subject. There are a few steps to creating a pen name:
1. Decide that you need one. Plenty of authors comfortably accomplish their publishing goals without pen names.
2. Choose a name that is significant to you. At this stage, you might want to ensure that (a) you are comfortable with the way people will say it aloud, (b) it's memorable (because people forget names that are either too complicated or too common as soon as they hear or see them), and (c) you know where on bookstore shelves your name might place you, if you write long fiction. Also, search online for not only the name but similar names to ensure they aren't tied to someone famous, that the domain names are available as Web addresses, and that the name won't bring to mind a well-known fictional character or company product.
3. Market the name. Secure your Web domain, create whatever social marketing accounts you might use, and tell everyone in your writing network about your new name.
One reason for a pen name is to have something unique enough so you can have your own domain. I've got a pen name that has it's own domain to use when I actually publish something significant.
I used the name of a muppet character (not Gonzo!) for the first name (it's a common first name) and a French city for the last name. My oldest son lived there for a while. It also begins with an 'A' so I'd alway show up early in an alphabetical search on the last name.
I wanted a separate name so I could switch genres easily. I like to write poetry and that would be under my real name.
No. Owasm is not a pen name and I'd never think to use it.
As a pen name, Mark 52nd Avenue doesn't quite convey the message I want it to.
I very much plan on writing genres other than those I'm working right now, so the obligatory debate of how a young adult fan might feel about my work if he/she learned that I also write hard science fiction or western or soft porn, etc. has crossed my mind. Many times. My solution is that I have begun creating a stockpile of pen names; should I (for any reason whatsoever) choose to use one, I'm already set up. Plus, I cross-check this list with available domain names, and add / edit / delete accordingly.
I'm not so sure the "different pen names for each genre" thing doesn't backfire. I know for myself, I'm MUCH more likely to try something outside of my normal interests, IF the author is someone I already know I like from my preferred genres. If that same book is marketed under a pen name, I'll never make the connection and never give it a chance.
One of the best examples that I can think of for a cross genre pen name is J. D. Robb who writes the In Death series. The series is really a mix of three genres: sf, murder (cop) mystery, & romance. All that makes it a bit of an odd ball, but it is nonetheless well told and enjoyable. The way I heard it Nora Roberts was worried that non-romance readers would never pick up a book with her name on it, so… a la nom de plume! Now that the series has caught (nearly 40 books) most of the covers say “Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb” with J. D. Robb in large letters and the rest small.
JK is a pen name that I chose some five or six odd years ago. Most of the people that I know seem to react with a kind of funny face whenever I mention reading SF or Fantasy (although more with Fantasy than SF). I’ve actually gotten quite tired of trying to explain the genres to those who don’t read them. I always thrill with a kind of secret delight in discovering a fellow reader of spec fiction, but alas, it seems so rare. So all this to say that for me choosing a pen name is on the order of self (and family) preservation.
That said, all I did was reverse my first and middle names, Kate and Josephine, and alter Kate to Kait. I decided to try it out here, and I love it. It is also every bit as much “me” as what I was christened with.
Such are the needs of my raving ego that only putting my own name on something will satisfy me.
The only time I ever put a pen name on something was when I tried my hand at a Harlequin Romance---thank God it was never published---and, for those, a girl's name is a requirement.
Aside from that, it's been straight "my name" on everything. I put it up here. I put it on fan letters to the magazines when I did that. I put it on obnoxious political comments. I put it on my Internet Fan Fiction.
The reason I am considering a pen name is that my last name surprisingly seems to confuse people. So I am considering a pen name for that reason. I wonder if I should keep my own first name, Mike and just change the last. Or would it be wise to choose something else entirely?
BTW, I know it is up to me entirely, but I am at a loss so all these suggestions really do help give me ideas.
[This message has been edited by MikeL (edited May 02, 2011).]
For this reader, the odd names are easier to associate with something I liked. They stand out on the shelf. I'm not sure how to pronounce Flewelling, but I remember it. Couldn't remember who'd written some book I loved, but the moment I saw "Volsky" on the shelf again, I knew who it was. George R.R. Martin -- aha, one of those guys with multiple middle names, easy to spot.
OTOH it took me years to solidly remember the mundane, ordinary name of Craig Thomas, despite having a whole collection of his books.