Pen names

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

N.E.Synner

Registered
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
19
Reaction score
7
Hi all, how are we all today? :)
Do most people use a pen name? If so do you use different pen names for different genres? Like One name for fiction, One for horror, etc?
 

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
18,778
Reaction score
2,381
Location
Vienna, VA
Hello, welcome to AW!

I don't know if "most" of us use pen names, but many do for sure. So far, all of my publishing has been under my real name, which is utterly forgettable and there are several of us, even one who's published fiction with apparently about as much (read; not much) success as I have. Therefore, I intend to use several going forward: a folksy, friendly one for children's stories; a manly, chest-beating one for historical fiction; and I'm not sure about what I'll use for that I write the most of, which is mainstream contemporary. I also have several non-fiction ideas in mind, which I'll probably publish under my real name, since my real-life degrees and credentials are under my real name (of course).

You seem to know this already, but pen names are about branding, and giving the reader an accurate idea of what to expect. You know what you're in for when you pick up a Fern Michaels, James Patterson, or Umberto Eco book. I want you to know what you're in for when you pick up one of mine (which would mean I've at least been published and popular enough for you to know who I am, which has not happened--yet :))
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maryn

Maryn

Staying Home Forever
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
45,585
Reaction score
11,583
Location
Up North
I echo Chris P... Chris P... Chris P...

One thing you have to take into account when you consider branding is whether any genre or type of writing you do has the potential to alienate some readers. (Think politics, religion, sexual content, social issues, like that.) Even if the people who are your intended audience for that writing are fine with it, a person who read it and took offense or strongly disagreed with it will not buy anything else published under that name.

Which might be just fine, or might harm your sales.

Maryn, who has used three pennames and regrets ruining the best one
 

Chris P

Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 4, 2009
Messages
18,778
Reaction score
2,381
Location
Vienna, VA
I echo Chris P... Chris P... Chris P...

One thing you have to take into account when you consider branding is whether any genre or type of writing you do has the potential to alienate some readers. (Think politics, religion, sexual content, social issues, like that.) Even if the people who are your intended audience for that writing are fine with it, a person who read it and took offense or strongly disagreed with it will not buy anything else published under that name.

Which might be just fine, or might harm your sales.

Maryn, who has used three pennames and regrets ruining the best one

What? You mean other readers do the same eye rolls I do when I see a title by [respect my fellow writer], [respect my fellow writer], or that idiot [respect my fellow writer]?
 

N.E.Synner

Registered
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
19
Reaction score
7
Hello guys,
Thank you for the feedback. I read a comment a while back that another good reason could be to disassociate yourself from family etc if the content of your work may be of a sensitive nature, which made sense.
Some of the short stories I've written are in the adult genre, which prompted me to wonder about having different names for different target audiences.

Your replies have pretty much answered that question, many thanks indeed :)
 

Maryn

Staying Home Forever
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
45,585
Reaction score
11,583
Location
Up North
"Adult genre" meaning erotic in nature? That's my board. Come on by.

Not that we talk shop a lot, but we can be coerced by questions about the craft, marketing, etc.

Maryn, whose name is not really Maryn
 

ChaseJxyz

Writes birds and bird accessories
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2020
Messages
741
Reaction score
218
Location
California
Website
www.chasej.xyz
I'm fine with using my (current) legal name on most of my stuff. Though I do plan on using a different name if/when I publish things that are mostly "weird porn," mostly because I don't want to have to explain myself to my coworkers lol. But I also don't have a relationship with most of my family and most of my friends already know enough about me to not be surprised by the kinds of things I would write adult-content wise; I'm aware that that's not the situation with everyone, so that may not be the best advice for your situation.
 

N.E.Synner

Registered
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
19
Reaction score
7
I'm fine with using my (current) legal name on most of my stuff. Though I do plan on using a different name if/when I publish things that are mostly "weird porn," mostly because I don't want to have to explain myself to my coworkers lol. But I also don't have a relationship with most of my family and most of my friends already know enough about me to not be surprised by the kinds of things I would write adult-content wise; I'm aware that that's not the situation with everyone, so that may not be the best advice for your situation.
Most of my friends wouldn't be surprised by anything I'd write. A few years ago I wouldn't have been too worried about it, but having a young family I'd like to keep a little discretion ;)
 

Maryn

Staying Home Forever
Staff member
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
45,585
Reaction score
11,583
Location
Up North
Having kids or parents who could be negatively affected by something you write is a compelling reason to adopt a pen name. I stole Maryn from a kindergarten classmate of The Kid, who's in her thirties now, because I could imagine my very shy children being teased or being outcasts if certain mommies knew I wrote erotic fiction. Oddly, they would not have been bothered by graphic violence if I'd kept going with thrillers I couldn't sell.

Maryn, wondering what became of the other Maryn