Hello writer bees!
So, lately, I’ve noticed a heated debate within the writing community. When you finally publish a story, should you use your real name or a pen name? For aspiring authors, it’s a tough question. Have no fear, I’m here to help!
Today, I’m taking a look at the pros and cons of both sides of the argument, to help you decide what name will be printed on your book cover.
Pros of a Pen Name
- The power on anonymity: Some people find freedom in using a new moniker. And If you are sharing a personal life story, you can keep it private. Your boss and your church friends won’t have any idea.
- Choose a more ‘writerly’ name: Create a memorable, eye catching name that suits the genre you are writing in. Pen names give you a chance to give yourself the name you’ve always wanted.
- Dip your toe in multiple genres. Be fluid and experiment in various genres with multiple personas. And if you fail to sell enough books, simply reinvent yourself.
Cons of a Pen Name
- Difficult Marketing: It’s harder to spread the word on your book under a nom de plume. Keeping your true identity a secret may hurt your book promoting process.
- Struggle with building an author-reader connection. And it takes some time for the name to gain recognition.
- Establishing a brand new persona. With a pen name, you may have to balance a double life. That might mean managing multiple social media accounts and writer websites etc.
Authors That Used Pen Names
- J.K. Rowling (Joanne Rowling)
- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
- Lewis Carrol (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
- Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel)
- Stan Lee ( Stanley Martin Lieber)
Pros of Using Your Real Name
- Pride: That’s your name on the cover of the book. Sweet success belongs to you. Some writers dream about seeing their name in a bookstore. It’s a major accomplishment.
- Easier to promote your work with your real name. Friends, family members, neighbors etc. will know it’s you. And you can do more local promos as well.
- One name, one identity. No need to manage multiple social media accounts or author websites. Also, forget the hassle or confusion of a fake moniker. Readers and business associates know how to address you.
Cons of Using Your Real Name
- Your name may sound similar to another famous name. That might cause confusion to readers.
- You may have a forgettable or fairly common name. (Shout out to the John Smiths of the world.)
- You are writing within a genre where books written by the opposite gender sell better. Unfortunately, sexism against authors is real.
Would you use a pen name or your real name when you publish a book? And what’s your take on nom de plumes? Talk to me in the comments!
Write with heart,
4 thoughts on “Pen Name VS. Real Name: The Great Writer Debate”
I’m using a pen name! Well, Rebecca is also my real name, but I decided to adopt a new surname for my writing – one that had some kind of meaning to me (i.e. a play off my middle name and my grandmother’s Scottish heritage). I primarily took on a pen name to separate my “writing identify” from my “professional identity” online. My real identity is not supposed to be a secret – and is pretty much impossible to keep it that way anyway!!
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I am using my real name. If I master to write a book I want people to know I did it. Also for marketing purposes and reader-writing relationships like a book signing session it seems better to me.
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