Friday Rambles: To Pen Name or Not to Pen Name, That Is the Question

First off, before I start this post . . .


(May you eat lots of candy and get very fat.)

Today, I’m going to talk about pseudonyms, and real names.

Examples of authors who work under pseudonyms include Lewis Caroll (WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED??),  J.K Rowling (from the research I’ve done, the “K” doesn’t stand for anything; she also works under pseudonyms such as Robert Galbraith), Claudia Gray (author of the Evernight series and others); an example of an author who writer under their real name is Stephen King (though he has published novels under pseudonyms.)

Authors write under pseudonyms for many reasons.

  • The first thing that pops into my head when I consider why a writer would use a pseudonym would be for security reasons, and privacy. (Especially if you might be writing about a sensitive/controversial topic that may offend people.) Yet the reality of this is a little bit tenuous — this is the twenty-first century, and we literally have information at our fingertips. If a person really wanted to find you, I think they would regardless of writing under a pen name.
  • Writing in different genres is also a big one. Often authors will choose different pseudonyms for different genres — eg. Michelle Rowan wrote her high fantasy series under the name Morgan Rhodes, whereas some of her paranormal novels are written under Michelle Rowan. I understand this completely!
  • Starting again. Think J.K Rowling writing under the name Robert Galbraith (and, quite frankly, that didn’t work out very well, considering people eventually found out that she was J.K Rowling.)
  • Some writers might choose to write under a pseudonym because their name is either a) very very common (which would confuse readers) or b) the opposite, and their name is very long or confusing and hard to pronounce.

Say, by some miracle, I managed to become a published author, what would I do?

I would, most definitely, use my real name. I do not have anything against pseudonyms — not at all! But hey, I like my last name. And whilst the issue of privacy is something that’s popped into my head, I still don’t believe it would stop people from finding you if they really want to (this is the opposite, but think of Kathleen Hale, and how she still managed to find a reviewer who used an online pseudonym.)

halloween animated GIF

So, what about you? If you were an author, would you use a pseudonym? Why, or why not? Let me know! :)



7 thoughts on “Friday Rambles: To Pen Name or Not to Pen Name, That Is the Question

  1. Lemony Snicket is a great one as well!! I don’t think I’d use a pseudonym. Everyone on social media knows me by my real name, so even from a marketing standpoint it’d be a good idea. But also I’d be shelved next to Richelle Mead, which I just think is cool :)

  2. I’ve been thinking about this for a while! On one hand (if the miracle happened and I published a book) using my real name would be useful as, like you, social media and all my book buddies know me already. BUT I don’t know if it’d be weird for reviewers to review my book when they know me already, like would that affect their opinion? Plus no one in my actual real (non-online) life knows I write and I don’t think I’d want all my old high school friends or my family reading my writing, it’d be weird. So I have no idea what’d be better!

    Great post and happy Halloween! x x

  3. Happy Halloween to you too :)
    I would use a pen name. My name is incredibly common. I’ve read books by a couple of authors with my first and last name… so I would want to stand out and be a little different.
    That said – I do like my name. It was one my parents chose specially just for me (okay had my older brother been a girl they would have given it to him but it’s still special).

    PS. Jealous Emily shares a surname with Richelle Mead. Not sure why I’m jealous but there you have it.

  4. I always kind of wanted a pseudonym because I thought it sounded “cool”. HA. I’m super mature. Not anymore. For starters, no one would believe it was me. The point of having a book is so you can run up to it in a bookstore and scream “LOOK I WROTE THAT! I DID!!” and not have your relatives go “Um, sure you did. It’s not even by you.” SO. For that reason, I threw out pseudonym ideas and am going with my real name. Although I’d love to do my initials because I write epic fantasy and hey, initials are awesome. They worked out for JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. *nods*

  5. The pseudonym thing has always confused me but I can totally understand that it’s used for various genres! But it’s sometimes hard to keep a track of everyone. But I’ve got nothing against it. I mean, it doesn’t bother me or affect me so…who am I to judge, right? Side note: I so did not know that Morgan Rhodes was a pseudonym. I’m horrendous at keeping a track of things =_=

  6. I use a pseudonym for my blogging name for privacy issues and my parents’ concerns, but if I get a book published, I would definitely want to publish it under my real name. I like my real name and I would like to see my real name on something as big as a book better than I would like to see my pseudonym on a book. Also, getting a book published is such a big deal, that people would know my real name anyway.

  7. Yeah, I probably would. I’d use my first name but not my last name because it’s so common. I might use my middle name though! :D This is a great idea for a post, honestly. A pseudonym seems like a good idea to me, but like you said, there’s no real way to hide on the internet anymore. You can try, but you most likely won’t succeed due to IP addresses and such. xD

    Great discussion post! :D

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