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Thread: Pen Name or No?

  1. #26
    ....... Harlequin's Avatar
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    One person I know does use pen names, not due to shame but marketing and quantity. Apparently libraries have a cap on how many copies they'll buy off the same author in a year or something, and having different pen names for the different genres gets around that.

    I would consider it. My name is sufficiently distinctive that a google search of first + last turns up my birth records. No thanks.
    After all, his name was Everett C. Marm, and he wasn't much to begin with, except a man who had no sense of time.

  2. #27
    figuring it all out RWrites's Avatar
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    I think pen names are great for young writers online, people writing NSFW works,etc. I like pen names because they can be wacky or normal as you like, but they are bit difficult to be honest. if your book is a major sucess-in your standards or in general-,you would want to gloat. If you have a pen name, that can be very hard to prove it's you. With a trade publisher, it would be much easier. Self publishing is another story. I think a good idea is to write a book first without a pen name and if the book suceeds, keep using your real name. If it doesn't(which is very sad to think about), maybe use a pen name to give you another chance.
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  3. #28
    In Time-Out For My Sins
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    I'm a nurse. I draw a hard line between the two professions. So, for my first book I'm looking at using my middle name as a last name, because it's commonly used as a last name. Not that it's gotten to this point, nor likely will it, but I don't want there to be any crossover between my professional life and my writing life. Essentially, I don't want a patient googling me and finding out I've done some writing. Also, I do work as researcher, and I've used my legal name for the academic work.

    Micheal Chrichton had several pen names, and I figured I follow in the footsteps of one of my literary heroes.

    I'm considering starting a blog to make medicine more accessible to writers (Don't shock asystole, why, and how to write around that common error, for example) but again, I don't really want my employer finding out, patients finding out, or deal with the drama of people who think I'd be handing out medical advice, which, of course I wouldn't be... but still. So, that would have to be anonymous as well.
    Last edited by MDSchafer; 07-06-2017 at 07:02 AM.

  4. #29
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDSchafer View Post
    Micheal Chrichton had several pen names...
    *eye twitches* Michael Crichton


  5. #30
    Sailing in a sea of mushroom... Nerdilydone's Avatar
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    I know this romance writer/voice actor who used her maiden name for her acting, and her married name for her writing. Then she used an adaptation of her voice character's name to write more romance.

    Well, "knew" her, as in, I talked to her online some. Glynnis Campbell is a very friendly person.

  6. #31
    You're the grease monkey. Fruitbat's Avatar
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    I use three pen names so far, for different types of writing. If I used my real name, I'd feel like people were looking over my shoulder as I wrote, which I would hate. There's no guarantee of anonymity but it's still a nice screen.

    I think the idea of making your pen name one of your characters is interesting. If you really want to do it, go ahead, just so you understand the possible drawbacks.
    Last edited by Fruitbat; 07-06-2017 at 09:12 PM.
    Story Prompts That Work: 52 Detailed, Tested Story Starters for Short Stories and Flash Fiction (for Adults and Teens)
    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...mpts+that+work

    Writing Flash Fiction: How to Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published
    http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Flash-...0670797&sr=1-1

    Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash Fiction:
    http://www.amazon.com/Coffee-House-L...fee+house+lies

    Blog: http://carlyberg.com/

  7. #32
    figuring it all out Cekrit's Avatar
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    I debated using a pen name, but I didn't want to give that fragment of myself too much credit. I'm a very spiritual person, and in my experience am prone to attracting spirits, which influence me at times. The only pen name I would have used would have been Alyxander Knox, who is my most familiar- but really, i just didn't want to give him too much credit and take away from myself.

    I see the point of a pen name, but I also am not trying to hide anything and my book wouldn't bother my professional life so I kept my own name.
    Sera needs you! [YA dystopian fantasy]

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  8. #33
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    It's not necessarily about hiding something (besides your actual name).

    Quote Originally Posted by RWrites View Post
    I think pen names are great for young writers online, people writing NSFW works,etc. I like pen names because they can be wacky or normal as you like, but they are bit difficult to be honest. if your book is a major sucess-in your standards or in general-,you would want to gloat. If you have a pen name, that can be very hard to prove it's you. With a trade publisher, it would be much easier. Self publishing is another story. I think a good idea is to write a book first without a pen name and if the book suceeds, keep using your real name. If it doesn't(which is very sad to think about), maybe use a pen name to give you another chance.
    Everyone is different. I feel no need whatsoever to 'prove' anything like that, or gloat.

    I like pseudos, always.

  9. #34
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    I use a pseudonym as an aspect of my more comprehensive strategy to protect my privacy (Of course, I know that alone won't do it, but I've taken other pragmatic steps as well). Is it working? Well, so far--so good . . . I've never dealt with a publisher who had a problem with an author using a pseudonym. However, most want to capitalize on an author's image and existing platform (if one exists), and expect an author to actively participate in promotion and marketing. As a privacy advocate, I'll admit to finding that expectation problematic; subsequently, I always decline.

  10. #35
    You're the grease monkey. Fruitbat's Avatar
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    I'd advise googling any pen name under consideration, to see who else may have that name and etc. For ex., my Carly Berg name is shared with a young, attractive artsy woman who is into acting in plays, which is fine with me. I think my name was "around" first anyway. It's also shared with a bookkeeper in Georgia, a pediatrician in Missouri, and someone starring in a porn magazine called Giant Tits. So, yeah, it's all good here. :p
    Last edited by Fruitbat; 07-07-2017 at 11:56 PM.
    Story Prompts That Work: 52 Detailed, Tested Story Starters for Short Stories and Flash Fiction (for Adults and Teens)
    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...mpts+that+work

    Writing Flash Fiction: How to Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published
    http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Flash-...0670797&sr=1-1

    Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash Fiction:
    http://www.amazon.com/Coffee-House-L...fee+house+lies

    Blog: http://carlyberg.com/

  11. #36
    practical experience, FTW CJSimone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruitbat View Post
    I'd advise googling any pen name under consideration, to see who else may have that name and etc. For ex., my Carly Berg name is shared with a young, attractive artsy woman who is into acting in plays, which is fine with me. I think my name was "around" first anyway. It's also shared with a bookkeeper in Georgia, a pediatrician in Missouri, and someone starring in a porn magazine called Giant Tits. So, yeah, it's all good here. :p
    This brings me to a question I have. I've heard agents will often look you up when you query them, but how do they know which one is you? Do they just assume if it's something to do with writing, it's us? I looked up my name and came across a couple weird things.

    Re: using a penname, I definitely am. I like my privacy and also want to keep my professional life and my writing separate. And my real last name is a long Italian one nobody can pronounce.

    CJ

  12. #37
    figuring it all out Sammie's Avatar
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    Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with them. Long before I started writing I read many books by authors using pen names, and I have to wonder why but I always felt deceived somehow. Mind you I was 11-12 when I had these thoughts. I felt that an author should be connecting with their audience henceforth a real name makes them a relatable, real person. It's like putting a wall between you and your readers.

    Later as I got older did I only realize it was for privacy reasons. So, now to be honest I don't mind them -- as an adult trying to protect as much of her privacy as possible just as others are I think it's a brilliant idea.

    Go with what makes you comfortable.

  13. #38
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    The main reason I'm against pen names is social media. It's taken me years to grow my Twitter following to 2k. I can't imagine having multiple pen names that all needed separate social media accounts and promotions. Seems exhausting.

  14. #39
    practical experience, FTW Shoeless's Avatar
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    When I was younger, I seriously contemplated using a pen name for my work, because I'm a visible minority with a very ethnic last name. All the writers I'd grown up loving as a kid were white, so I figured if I was going to be a "real writer" I had to have a real writer name, ie, white name. I had it all set up and perfectly imagined, I was going to call myself "David M. Winter," which was as Anglo as you could possibly get. I also figured at the time that if editors saw an ethnic name, they'd doubt the quality of the English, and look at the work with more skepticism because of that.

    Of course, since then, a lot has changed, and I realize now how important it is minorities--especially if they accomplish something noteworthy--to not try to white wash themselves in an effort to make that accomplishment look more "legit." So when I finally got my first short story published, I used my real name, and ever since then, any article, script or other piece of writing I've put out there has always had my real name. But yeah, at first, I do have to admit, to me a pen name, a white name, meant you had the name of a "real writer," and it took me a while to get over that.
    Last edited by Shoeless; 07-18-2017 at 03:12 AM.

  15. #40
    practical experience, FTW LeftyLucy's Avatar
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    I've gone back and forth on this. Initially I thought I wouldn't want to use a pen name, because I'd want to see my name in Barnes & Noble. But I don't actually feel very connected to my name: my first/middle names are after a parent who dropped out of my life entirely when I was still very young and whom I have no positive feelings for whatsoever, and my last name is my husband's surname, which has never really felt like mine. (It's also my kids' names, though, so that matters to me.) Another factor is that I have a fairly established career and am in a kind of role, in a kind of organization, where saying anything remotely controversial can have real consequences... and I tend to take strong stances in my fiction. Given the overwhelming possibility that I'll never make enough from fiction to quit my day job, it might be wise to keep my actual name off of anything I publish.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theodore Koukouvitis View Post
    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.
    I'm a Kaye. Like Danny. But people insist on pronouncing my name phonetically as Kway. So, I've thought about giving in to peer pressure, and just use Kaye as a pen name. Everyone else does.
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  17. #42
    figuring it all out
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    I use a pen name for two reasons - first, my real name isn't really conducive to action adventure fiction. Secondly, it is a brand, and you can always start another if the first goes south. However, if I chose to write non-fiction, depending on the subject material, I would likely use my real name.

  18. #43
    practical experience, FTW D.Owczarek's Avatar
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    I'm seriously considering using one for my fiction too. I mean, just look at my last name.

  19. #44
    You're the grease monkey. Fruitbat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSimone View Post
    This brings me to a question I have. I've heard agents will often look you up when you query them, but how do they know which one is you? Do they just assume if it's something to do with writing, it's us? I looked up my name and came across a couple weird things.
    I'd assume they just handle it like the rest of us do when we google someone's name for whatever reason. I'm sure they, too, get it that someone with that name may or may not be the person they're looking up. While I'd still do that quick internet check before settling on a pen name, it still only goes so far because anyone else could pop up online with that same name any time.
    Story Prompts That Work: 52 Detailed, Tested Story Starters for Short Stories and Flash Fiction (for Adults and Teens)
    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...mpts+that+work

    Writing Flash Fiction: How to Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published
    http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Flash-...0670797&sr=1-1

    Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash Fiction:
    http://www.amazon.com/Coffee-House-L...fee+house+lies

    Blog: http://carlyberg.com/

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