Why Publish Under a Pen Name?
Authors sometimes choose to publish their books using a pen name. A pen name is an alias or a pseudonym that is publicized instead of a legal name. Authors have been using pen names for centuries for a variety of reasons.
Following are some of the top reasons an author may choose to publish under a pen name:
To keep private – the content may be controversial or they may work in a government, teaching, or legal role and prefer to remain anonymous.
The content addresses a strong political or religious stance that may endanger a writer’s life in some way.
To not be recognized within a certain genre, like erotica, LGBTQ, or politics.
To branch out into a different genre and not interrupt an existing fan base.
To switch publishers if they are in a current contract and the publisher owns the rights to upcoming work under their name.
Their legal name doesn’t fit well with the genre they are writing in.
To be reborn and distance themselves from earlier books that didn’t perform well.
Their legal name is too long, complicated, or difficult to pronounce or remember.
Their legal name is too similar to an existing famous author.
To be gender-neutral.
To publish under more than one name.
To represent co-writers as one author.
For freedom of voice.
Authors who decide to use a pen name make the decision before they write a book. The name will need to be incorporated into the cover design and all aspects of the publishing process. It can be fun to come up with a new name. So how does an author go about choosing one? Check out these tips when brainstorming a pen name:
Determine your audience. Identify the genre, age, demographic, and who specifically you want to attract.
Research what other authors in your genre are calling themselves. Is it by first and last name, initials, a male or female name?
Make it easy to say and spell. A name that is simple to search is better than confusing a reader who struggles to find it.
Confirm if the name is original and available. Search online using Google and a domain checker to ensure you have a unique pen name.
Use a name generator. If you have a difficult time coming up with a name on your own, enter a few details about yourself and your book into an auto generator tool and have fun reading through the results!
Once you settle on a unique and available pen name, lock it down. Immediately register the domain so you can use this for creating your brand as an author. Then consult with a legal professional to register a copyright.
Lot’s of famous authors publish under pen names. Stephen King and JK Rowling are just two recognizable authors who do. Authors have many reasons for using a pen name. It could be just the thing needed to kick start a successful writing career.
Search for the name to confirm the name is unique and available
Register the associated domain
Register a copyright for the name
Author Anne Carroll for Writers' Connection is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.