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What’s in a name?

A pen name, pseudonym, nome de plume, or literary double is an assumed name used by a writer instead of their real or legal name.

Reasons to use a Pen Name

Writing in Multiple Genres – The most common use of pen names today is by established authors who don’t want to aggravate their base readership by producing novels outside their established genre. Examples include Nora Roberts who uses JD Robb to pen her suspense novels and Jessica Byrd who changed her name to JR Ward to publish her highly successful dark suspense The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Switching Publishers– Perhaps you have an exclusivity deal with a publisher under your current name, but you have a project they aren’t as excited to publish as you are. Using a pen name would allow you to take that work to another publisher or even self-publish.

Anonymity– Maybe you just want some privacy or a strict separation between your personal and professional life. Much like in the past, many authors have day jobs or positions within their community that would be negatively impacted by their choice of writing. There have been several cases in the news about teachers who were fired or shut out of their community because it was found they wrote erotica or dark romance.

Name too common or complicated– Becoming an author has been made easier than ever with the rise of free self-publishing platforms. Standing out amongst the millions is even harder if you have a common name like John Smith or Mary Johnson. In this case, you want to choose a name that will help distinguish you from all the rest. On the flip side, if you have a long first or last name or a name with more consonants than vowels, you may stand out negatively. Hard to pronounce names mean less word of mouth recommendations and if your name is too long it might not fit neatly on your covers.

Things to consider when choosing a Pen Name

The similarity to famous Authors– You might think it a great idea to choose a pen name like JP Rawling or James Peterson, but it can actually hurt your ability to sell. The literary world is full of diehard fans who will gladly pan your work and spam your books with negative reviews in defense of their favorite authors.

Does the name you chose fit with your chosen genre– A name like Sly Nyx will be more widely accepted amongst Paranormal Romance, and Fantasy readers than Historical fiction.

Can be a variation of your real name– If you aren’t feeling particularly creative or have a name “issue” as mentioned above, it is perfectly okay to shorten your name how you see fit. It will also make filing your taxes easier since it is still technically your legal name.  Example, Elizabeth Marie Johnson could become Eliza Mar or E.M. Johns.

Position on Brick & Mortar Shelves- A much-overlooked factor in choosing a pen name. Depending on the number of items in stock a name towards the end of the alphabet like S-Z is more likely to fall on bottom shelves and away from the valuable eye-level shelf space key to grabbing reader’s attention.

Need a little help coming up with a name? Check out these fun pen name generators!

Pseudonym Generator

Reedsy Pen Name Generator

Kindlepreneur Pen Name Generator

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Book Swap!

I am a big promoter of Authors Supporting Authors. We were all readers once and most of us still are. This year in an effort to put my money where my mouth is. I have been chatting it up with some of my contemporaries on social media and low and behold, a book swap happened. Author Ursula Visser is my new book buddy and she sent me the most fantastically wrapped books I have ever received. Check out this evidence of her packaging mastery.

Yes! That is wooden confetti!

Carefully wrapped in paper and tied with gold laced thread, I was almost to amazed to open it. Of course, she was gracious enough to send some promotional material as well as provide me with delicious tea to relax and read. So what was inside the wrapping, you ask?

Not One but Two Books!

I am beyond grateful for the generosity of the writer’s community and I hope to be able to participate in more book swaps in the future! In the meantime, I will be diving right into Ursula’s Dragon Queen Series.

Want copies of your own? Both books are available on Amazon Here If you would like more information about Ursula Visser and her work check out her website and social media:

www.ursulavisser.com

www.facebook.com/authorursulavisser

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