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Thread: Pen Name or No?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Pen Name or No?

    Out of curiosity, how many people here use, or plan to use, pen names for their work?

    Why or why not?

    Also, where does your pen name come from?

    Personally if, Lord willing, my book does become a success and makes the foundation for the larger series of books to follow I'd rather not have my name out in the open. Call me paranoid but I'd like to keep my privacy as much as possible.

    I'm considering using my real name for children's books but for anything else? I like the pen name borrowed from one of my books main characters, Tarvin Drackin. Honestly, I have yet to decide what the D in T.D. Dracken is beyond his middle initial.
    Last edited by T.D. Dracken; 05-16-2017 at 08:55 PM.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Sorry, you'd name yourself after the MC in the book you want to put the name on? Eh?

  3. #3
    Benefactor Member WeaselFire's Avatar
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    This gets asked regularly, you might want to start with a search. But, if you intend to use a character's name as your pen name, you better be writing first person from that character's POV or the readers will have issues.

    If you're really just looking for permission to use a pen name, I hereby grant it.

    Jeff

  4. #4
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.D. Dracken View Post
    Out of curiosity, how many people here use, or plan to use, pen names for their work?

    Why or why not?

    Personally if, Lord willing, my book does become a success and makes the foundation for the larger series of books to follow I'd rather not have my name out in the open. Call me paranoid but I'd like to keep my privacy as much as possible.

    I'm considering using my real name for children's books but for anything else? I like the pen name borrowed from one of my books main characters, Tarvin Drackin. Honestly, I have yet to decide what the D in T.D. Dracken is beyond his middle initial.
    My father-in-law's middle name is A. You can totally just be D.

    I plan on using a pen name, this name. I've used Maxwell as my writing surname for over half my life now. Publishing as anything else wouldn't feel right. Plus, I have two real name options (maiden name and married name), but one's too famous through someone else and the other's too common and doesn't stand out in the crowd. So I made my own name, and honestly, now it's more "me" than either of the others.
    The insane who believe they are sane are crazy. The sane who know they are insane are writers.

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  5. #5
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Unless you've got a Lemony Snicket / Pitacus Lore situation, where your pen name / character name overlap in-story, you're probably not going to want to use it on your professional work. **

    **says the person whose AW screen name is a character from something she wrote as a teenager.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW kaylim's Avatar
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    I considered using a pen name but decided not to when I realized that it would do nothing for me other than make me feel like a "real" writer.

  7. #7
    figuring it all out
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    Well, if you become famous enough, your pen name won't protect your privacy.

    Personally, I like my name and how unusual and kind of musical it is, so I don't plan on using any pen names. If I was John Smith or Jose Garcia, I'd seriously consider it.

    Anyway, it's a personal choice, and I don't think there's a right or wrong way to go about this. I suggest you just do whatever you think is best for you.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Bacchus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.D. Dracken View Post
    Also, where does your pen name come from?

    Personally if, Lord willing, my book does become a success and makes the foundation for the larger series of books to follow I'd rather not have my name out in the open.
    I think Lord Willing sounds like a great pen-name

    If you don't use it I might...

  9. #9
    Left-Handed Writing Fairy folclor's Avatar
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    I use my maiden name as my pen name simply because "York" sounds good with my first name and middle initial.

  10. #10
    figuring it all out RJDrake's Avatar
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    Personally, I love pen names. I think that they give you the chance to show who really are.
    Your given name will always be something that someone chose for you but a pen name is your choice, and it tells a lot about you.
    I decided to make up my pen name a few years ago and every time I use it feel a step closer to where I want to get. (Being a published author)

    I'm not sure a pen name can really keep you anonymous if you get famous, thought.

    I don't like my name nor my surname. My name has an annoying sound to it, my middle name is just random and my surname is my father's (who I hate). I make up names all the time when I introduce myself to new people so I don't see why not using a pen name.
    My R.J. Drake has a quite simple story behind it. I love dragons. I always had. I've been collecting dragon statues for years so it's a short distance from there to Drake.
    R.J. is mysterious and sort of a tribute to J.K. Rowling. Also until you see me you can't be really sure if I'm male or female from just my initials.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW EvieDriver's Avatar
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    I'm currently using a pen name. I love it, and I love that I get to love it. Similar to RJDrake, I believe pen names are a chance for a writer to become an author (if pen names are for them). I hated my given name because I am named after a relative I really disliked. It's okay, but totally not what I'd call myself if given a choice to go back in time and threaten my mom and dad while they named me lol. Since that's impossible, being Evie Driver allows me to separate my author self from my plebian self. One's exciting , the other isn't. Take a guess as which that is?

    I don't understand why people passionately despise pen names. I've actually been cursed and lashed out at because I gave someone encouraging advice on Facebook for taking a pen name. People are so harsh, but do you, and you'll be fine! Good luck!

  12. #12
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    Nope, I write, Youtube, and do everything else as the real me.

  13. #13
    Drowning in the depthless sea Dysnomia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    Unless you've got a Lemony Snicket / Pitacus Lore situation, where your pen name / character name overlap in-story, you're probably not going to want to use it on your professional work. **

    **says the person whose AW screen name is a character from something she wrote as a teenager.
    There's also Darren Shan! Though I didn't complete the series so never got to find out why the author went with Darren Shan too...

    ETA: oh, on a quick google the author actually shares the first name too. Interesting.
    Last edited by Dysnomia; 05-17-2017 at 04:41 AM.

  14. #14
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Siri Kirpal K. Khalsa is both my pen name and my spiritual name. It's more true to me than my given birth name and my married last name.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  15. #15
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    I have strongly considered using pen names. I had several planned out over the years, all with different reasons and for different genres (is genre the correct word? I am trying to say that I planned one pen name for my novels and another for my plays). I was terribly worried about my work being stolen, and becoming so famous that people wouldn't leave me alone. Neither happened. I use my legal name now on my work. If I get published and successful enough that people won't leave me alone, great. If my work gets stolen, I think having written under my legal name will make a trail easier to establish.
    That's my experience; I hope it helps!

  16. #16
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    I use my real, legal name for writing. I have a teeny, tiny bit of local platform under my real name, and wanted to take advantage of that.

    However, my legal name (first, middle, last) is not the one I was born with. I hated my real name (for silly reasons, tbh) and went through all the paperwork to change it as a teenager. So I had all the fun of choosing a name, and it IS fun. Luckily 14-year-old me didn't choose anything I'd hate later.

    If I ever decide to use a pen name for something, maybe I'll make it my former name and bring things full circle.
    Last edited by Fuchsia Groan; 05-17-2017 at 06:36 AM.

  17. #17
    figuring it all out allthefeels's Avatar
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    In the alternative universe where I actually become published I too intend to use a pen name. My husband took my name in marriage, so I figured I'd borrow his for authoring. I just don't want people who know me via my professional career to stumble across my books, as I like to keep the different facets of my life fairly well compartmentalized (should my publication fantasy become reality to the extent of gaining fame in that realm, I would be okay foregoing that compartment).

    I think using an MC's name as your pen name carries some risk. As a reader, I would expect that voice in every one of your books.

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    There's a lot of different viewpoints on this and I'm sorry I didn't think to do a forum search for the topic before making this one. It's been a few years since I regularly frequented any forum and I forgot some of the propper forum etiquette despite the fact that I was a forum admin of the last one I bothered with.

    Anyway, I chose, for better or worse, to use the main character's name as my len name for a few reasons. The first is that the character's personality is based largely on mine and how he would act in situations comes from what my instincts would be to do.

    The largest reason is that I have already been using it as my screen name for years now even though I just committed recently to putting the story into book form. It's already a name that I identify with.

    Then there's also that I think Tarvin Dracken sounds better than my real name and I'd prefer my actual name not becoming a brand if my books are successful. Just look at Tom Clancy and how it's a brand name for additional writers to work under besides himself.

  19. #19
    figuring it all out Zaffiro's Avatar
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    I didn't use a pen name because I didn't see any reason to, and I wish I had. I wish I had a more solid barrier between work and life. Not that I write anything controversial, but there are weirdoes out there and I'd rather it was as hard as possible to connect writer me to real-life me.

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D. Dracken View Post
    I'd prefer my actual name not becoming a brand if my books are successful. Just look at Tom Clancy and how it's a brand name for additional writers to work under besides himself.
    You never have to let additional writers work under your name (real or pen) if you don't want to. Even if I were using a pen name, I wouldn't let anything be published under it unless I'd written it myself.

  20. #20
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    Use a pen name or don't. That's an entirely personal decision.

    My last name is unusual, but it really fits my genre, so I'm using it and everything else be damned.

    However, if I picked up a novel where a MC's name was also the name of the author, I would not be likely to continue. It would feel too close to self-insert fanfic/Mary Sue territory for me.
    -- Myrea
    "When it comes down to it itís always, always you and the white page. At the end of the day if the page is blank, itís won. Donít let the page win."
    Alasdair Stewart

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.D. Dracken View Post
    Out of curiosity, how many people here use, or plan to use, pen names for their work?

    Why or why not?
    I use a couple, because I write in widely divergent genres. It's a lot of work, though, so I'd say don't do it unless you have to.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
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    I love the idea of a pen name, I already have a few in mind. I would use a last name that is in my family just not my immediate last name. And I hate my first name so that would def change. Yes, most likely if I got to that point I would use a pen name.

    "You fail only if you stop writing" ~Ray Bradbury~
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    WIP Romance or Women's fiction, hopefully by the end I'll know.
    "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." ~Margaret Atwood~
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by iszevthere View Post
    I was terribly worried about my work being stolen, and becoming so famous that people wouldn't leave me alone.
    Oh yeah. That's a HUGE worry. *gets on knees and prays to become so famous people won't leave me alone*

  24. #24
    figuring it all out _lvbl's Avatar
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    Nope! I used to be embarrassed about writing and wanted a Pen Name. Now I am proud of myself and brave enough to stand behind my creation.

  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Tod Moran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.D. Dracken View Post
    Out of curiosity, how many people here use, or plan to use, pen names for their work?

    Why or why not?

    Also, where does your pen name come from?

    Personally if, Lord willing, my book does become a success and makes the foundation for the larger series of books to follow I'd rather not have my name out in the open. Call me paranoid but I'd like to keep my privacy as much as possible.


    I'm considering using my real name for children's books but for anything else? I like the pen name borrowed from one of my books main characters, Tarvin Drackin. Honestly, I have yet to decide what the D in T.D. Dracken is beyond his middle initial.
    I much the same. I am using my pen name here. It is a character in series I read as a teenager.
    Tod Moran
    (retired) On Deer Springs Lake, Clay County, FL

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