If you’re here, you may be trying to weigh your options regarding a pseudonym. Is choosing a penname right for you? Do you really need one? Is it worth possibly losing buys among those who’ve known me in the past and might be intrigued just to see my name on a cover? Well, here are some things to think about while you’re deciding.
When I started writing, I dreamed one day I would see my name on a book. Those two little words in print seemed like a huge accomplishment, proof that I had really completed what I set out to do. People may or may not know me, but at least my name might live on, right? Sounds simple– until I google searched my name.
It turns out, my name will definitely live on, but it won’t be because of me. There was already an Amber Turner out there making it shine in lights. I wasn’t about to battle it out for internet real estate. Having an already famous name, for good reasons or bad, is definitely a great reason for choosing a penname.
Writers are strange and creative creatures. We sometimes make decisions in life we’d rather not be reminded of when our bestsellers hit the shelves. Some writers enjoy the fresh start a penname can bring. You can choose to be who you really are, who you’ve always wanted to be, or make up an entirely different ego for your author self–and no one has to know!
Do your favorite authors write fairy smut and Christian children’s stories? Probably not, but if they do, you might now know it. Some writers who love creating in multiple genres may use a penname to separate their work. Using a pseudonym is a great way to reach readers in another unrelated genre without damaging your existing brand. Plenty of famous authors have done it. For instance, Agatha Christie and Dean Koontz are famous examples.
In the age of the internet, people can find out everything about you. Especially when social media is such a major marketing tool! To some authors, a penname helps to keep their private lives private. It can also put up a layer of protection between you and readers you know personally. If the thought of the other moms at your kids’ school getting their hands on one of your books makes you blush, or if you’re worried that your writing could negatively affect your professional life, consider a penname to gain some separation.
Choosing a Penname
I didn’t really get a choice about pennames; it was made for me. Even though I still think it would be cool to have a book with my birth name on it, I’ll just be happy to have a book with a name that represents me printed on the front. After all, it’s still MY name, even if I invented it. As a writer, doesn’t that seem fitting?
Amber J. Painter is a sci-fi/fantasy writer known for works such as The Murder Tour and Havoc State. She also publishes under the name Rose J. Rigby.