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View Full Version : Is shyness an okay reason for using a pen name?



DigitalGhost
06-06-2011, 03:51 AM
I have several stories that I've held off on submitting anywhere because I can't decide whether or not to use a pen name. My real name is OK - it's not the loveliest, but it's not too long and it's easy to spell and remember. The thing is, I hate attention and I'm not sure I want my real name attached to any of my stories online, where anyone with Google could find it. The thought of most people I know reading my stuff makes me want to cover my face with my hands and hide. Also, I'm pretty sure that in 10 years I'll look back on the stuff I'm currently writing, even if I can manage to sell it somewhere, and think "man, that was crap" and it will still be associated with my name. Has anyone here felt like this, and did you decide to use a pen name or not?

Thanks! :)

missouridalton
06-06-2011, 04:13 AM
I use a pen name to prevent family members from discovering I write gay fiction...so, sort of.

Emily Dickinison never published a thing(Well, I think there was one or two...under a pen name in a magazine/newspaper...something), and her family found the poetry after her death and published it (against her wishes).

I think it's all right to be shy, and use a pen name to remain anonymous (as was the original intent of the nom de plume). I would, however, do all communication with editors, publishers, and agents through your real name, for tax reasons if nothing else.

Don Evan Scott
06-06-2011, 04:18 AM
I use a pen name also (that one over there <---), and I imagine that "shyness" has to be a popular reason for doing it, along with related reasons of "paranoia" and "privacy". :)

BenPanced
06-06-2011, 04:59 AM
There's a host of reasons why people use pen names, and all of them (within legal reason) are perfectly fine, as long as your agent and/or publisher know both your legal name and your pseudonym for royalty/tax purposes.

Sirion
06-06-2011, 04:59 AM
Yup! :)

Maryn
06-06-2011, 05:09 AM
It's perfectly all right to use a pen name for your writing and your real name for... life.

Don't make the mistake I made with my last pen name, using it online at writing-related sites. Keep it only for publishing purposes and you should be fine.

BTW, just so you know, a whole lot of us are very, very shy people. Who better to sit in front of the blank screen or page where we create and populate entire universes?

Maryn, very shy

veinglory
06-06-2011, 05:11 AM
Pen names are there to use. I don't think you even need a reason.

Little Ming
06-06-2011, 05:11 AM
Of course not. Never, ever use a pen name. Don't you know that writers are some of the most outgoing, attention seeking, and sociable people in the history of the world.

The fact that would would even ask offends me. Don't you know that no one on this forum uses a pen name. In fact, I was told to join this forum we must give them our real names. Why else did they ask for my date of birth, bank account number and social security number when I registered? Because they wanted to confirm I was a real writer.

The only reason to even be a writer is to tell everyone you write. Whether it's novels, non-fiction, short stories, deep-emotional-life-shattering poems from high school, that very tasteful gay sex scenes from our favorite fan fiction, or that witty blurb I thought of while watching Jeopardy last night... We must take every opportunity possible to flaunt our writings. Whether it's to nameless, faceless people on the internet or to anyone who was lucky enough to step into an elevator with us (that's what the emergency stop button is for).

So, in conclusion, no pen names. Ever.

Polenth
06-06-2011, 05:16 AM
You could have a pen name because the rock in your garden told you to. You don't need to have a good reason. Though people will make the connection eventually, so it's not a guaranteed way of avoiding people knowing who you are.

Susan Littlefield
06-06-2011, 06:36 AM
I have several stories that I've held off on submitting anywhere because I can't decide whether or not to use a pen name. My real name is OK - it's not the loveliest, but it's not too long and it's easy to spell and remember. The thing is, I hate attention and I'm not sure I want my real name attached to any of my stories online, where anyone with Google could find it. The thought of most people I know reading my stuff makes me want to cover my face with my hands and hide. Also, I'm pretty sure that in 10 years I'll look back on the stuff I'm currently writing, even if I can manage to sell it somewhere, and think "man, that was crap" and it will still be associated with my name. Has anyone here felt like this, and did you decide to use a pen name or not?

Thanks! :)


Why, I think Digital Ghost is a fine name. :D

You can use a pen name anytime you want for any reason.

Tracey Taylor
06-06-2011, 06:49 AM
Any reason is a good reason for using a pen name. Shyness is one of the reasons why I use a pen name.

DigitalGhost
06-06-2011, 02:25 PM
Thanks for all the answers! :) Now to decide on a pen name...

Bufty
06-06-2011, 02:45 PM
Just remember to tell us what you finally decide on. ;)

:evil Only kidding -:Hug2:


Thanks for all the answers! :) Now to decide on a pen name...

bearilou
06-06-2011, 03:04 PM
You could have a pen name because the rock in your garden told you to.

*eyes you*

*eyes the rock out in my garden*

*sighs* It's been talking to strangers again...

And to echo everyone else, you don't need a reason other than you want to.

Anne Lyle
06-06-2011, 04:25 PM
Sure, a pen name's fine. Just be aware that unless you are very careful and discreet (as erotica writers sometimes to have to be!), sooner or later someone may well find out. But unless you are wildly successful, that probably won't be many people.

Until the internet came along I didn't tell anyone I wrote and was far too self-conscious about my writing to join an offline writers' group. It gets easier, the more people you tell, even if you're not the sort of person to ever be very extrovert.

Phaeal
06-06-2011, 10:12 PM
You could have a pen name because the rock in your garden told you to. You don't need to have a good reason. Though people will make the connection eventually, so it's not a guaranteed way of avoiding people knowing who you are.

All my rocks are for a pen name, but the birdbath is absolutely against the idea, and the jumping spider in the hose trolley says she'll bite me if I even mention using a pen name again.

The blue jay has no opinion, but that's because he's so conceited he can never think about anyone but himself.

rainsmom
06-06-2011, 10:48 PM
Just wanted to address one other thing....

You mentioned stories, so you may be talking about short stories, which don't generally require a lot of marketing. If you are writing a NOVEL, however, be aware that it doesn't matter how shy you are: if you want sales, you will HAVE to do marketing for it, and much of that will be uncomfortable to you.

Jonathan Dalar
06-06-2011, 11:19 PM
That may be the primary reason people use pen names. They don't want the writing life and all that entails clashing with their personal life.

That's why I use mine. I'm certainly not in the mood for sharing who I am privately with the world. If you're my friend, you know both names. If you just read my stuff, you most likely know only Jonathan Dalar. And that's the way I want it.

McMich
06-06-2011, 11:33 PM
I've contemplated a pen name but my husband always tells me no. His big point is that Michael Criton first published under a pen name so that other doctors wouldn't know he was a writer and regretted it later as after he became popular and people wanted to buy all the books he had written, some he had written had a different name. I don't know if that is true or not as my husband is the micheal criton fan, not me. But it makes me stop each time and consider maybe using my own name. I've considered using first inital and my middle name as my writing name so that it is my name, but not what I go by and everyone knows me as in my profession.

Ink-Stained Wretch
06-07-2011, 01:22 AM
The only socially and morally acceptable reason to use a pen name is if it's one of the demands made by terrorists threatening to nuke a city you personally like.

Ink-Stained Wretch
06-07-2011, 01:23 AM
Not to brag or nothin', but anyone posting here who lives in Boston or 20 miles downwind of it -- you owe me. Big time.

Anne Lyle
06-07-2011, 09:54 AM
You mentioned stories, so you may be talking about short stories, which don't generally require a lot of marketing. If you are writing a NOVEL, however, be aware that it doesn't matter how shy you are: if you want sales, you will HAVE to do marketing for it, and much of that will be uncomfortable to you.

True - but these days a lot of that marketing can be done online, so unless you are a) attending genre conventions and book signings or b) massively successful, few within your immediate circle of friends and family need know, regardless of whether you use a pseudonym or not. Despite using my real name, I still use a non-photo avatar everywhere online except my FB fan page, mainly because I hate photos of myself!

I guess in a way I do have a pseudonym - I still use my maiden name at work, so if I were to keep quiet about my writing, few people would be able to connect the "Anne Lyle" on the local bookshop's shelves with the person in their office. At the moment, only a handful of my co-workers know my married surname and/or that I'm a writer - I've decided that I will tell everyone else when the book comes out, because sales are more important to me than a few moments' embarrassment :)

Manuel Royal
06-08-2011, 04:01 AM
Don't make the mistake I made with my last pen name, using it online at writing-related sites. Keep it only for publishing purposes and you should be fine.Oops.

Anne Lyle
06-08-2011, 09:16 AM
Don't make the mistake I made with my last pen name, using it online at writing-related sites. Keep it only for publishing purposes and you should be fine.

Why is that a mistake? I know a lot of people here use web-pseudonyms (or, like me, obscure their book titles a little to confuse the Google-bots), but it's really only a mistake if you are trying to limit your online presence for some reason. Where do you draw the line? Not using your author name on Twitter or Facebook either?

At some point you have to decide how much privacy you want to hold on to vs. how much you want your writing name out there. It's different for everyone, but you have to weigh up the pros and cons.

Interesting article I found on Twitter yesterday:

http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2011/06/07/ThePersistentAndDamagingMythAboutIntrovertsAndMark eting.aspx

Ravenwing
06-08-2011, 09:36 PM
Keeping your real name private is a safety issue as well. You don't want el creepos showing up at your front door.

bsymom
06-09-2011, 10:39 PM
I've debated this myself. On the one hand, I want to be able to say :tongue to those who said I couldn't do it, but on the other hand, if some of those same people thought I had a dime, they would be looking to "borrow" it. I've resolved it by realizing most of them don't read anyway!

AlexPiper
06-09-2011, 11:27 PM
That may be the primary reason people use pen names. They don't want the writing life and all that entails clashing with their personal life.
For me, the choice is mostly a search engine optimization thing; I'd prefer people Googling my name not get whitepapers and other technical stuff I've written for work when they're looking for my writing, or vice versa. Imagine finding a murder mystery set in a vampire-ruled alternate version of ancient Rome when you're looking for a whitepaper on some communications protocol... :P

writingismypassion
06-10-2011, 12:20 AM
Of course not. Never, ever use a pen name. Don't you know that writers are some of the most outgoing, attention seeking, and sociable people in the history of the world.

The fact that would would even ask offends me. Don't you know that no one on this forum uses a pen name. In fact, I was told to join this forum we must give them our real names. Why else did they ask for my date of birth, bank account number and social security number when I registered? Because they wanted to confirm I was a real writer.

The only reason to even be a writer is to tell everyone you write. Whether it's novels, non-fiction, short stories, deep-emotional-life-shattering poems from high school, that very tasteful gay sex scenes from our favorite fan fiction, or that witty blurb I thought of while watching Jeopardy last night... We must take every opportunity possible to flaunt our writings. Whether it's to nameless, faceless people on the internet or to anyone who was lucky enough to step into an elevator with us (that's what the emergency stop button is for).

So, in conclusion, no pen names. Ever.


???
I would disagree with this.