Nom de Plume

Lets talk about Pen names today.

They are quite useful in many cases. Like a mask, they help shield our real identity from the public. But why use one? As authors, don't we want notoriety?


Perhaps an author writes in multiple genre's and wants to keep each work separate. A pen name helps create this, sort of, separate brand.

Perhaps an author writes in a genre that they do not wish to have associated with their name. Erotica for instance. Some people may not want their real name attached to a risque genre like this. What would the ladies in the church group say if they knew Mary Jane was writing about sex? LoL. A pen name helps keep your social status safe.

Perhaps pretending to be a specific gender, will help books sell better. Maybe a male author wants to write romance and thinks a female name would sell better.

Perhaps the author's name just doesn't sound Author-ish. A pen name might be catchy which can translate to more book sales.

Perhaps it is just a simple case of anonymity. The author just doesn't want their real name out there.

Whatever the reason, pen names are quite useful masks that keep our real identities hidden.

Of course if you want to use a pen name, you really have to commit to it. To the public, once you have adopted a name, that is who you are.

Your name is your brand. People will associate your name, your genre, and your style as one entity.

Think about it. When you hear the name Steven King or J.K. Rowling, you know what to expect, right?

The same will apply to you.

Think about this if you are considering a pen name.


Roni Loren said...

Great advice. I went back and forth over the pen name thing a while back because when I go back to work, it will probably be as a high school teacher. I write steamy stories, so I thought that could be an issue. But in the end, the pen name just didn't feel right, so I'm sticking with my real name for now. We'll see.

Theresa Milstein said...

J.K. Rowling was told to use her initials instead of her first name (Joanne) or boys wouldn't be interested in reading her book - just like what a publisher did to S.E. Hinton in the 1970s. But J.K. Rowling was interviewed on television, so it was clear early on that she's a woman. Soon, there was no doubt that she could sell books to boys. In fact, she's credited with getting boys to read. Hopefully, this isn't a problem for female writers any longer.

Unknown said...

Pen names can help an author keep personal life and working life separate, especially when their name becomes a Brand, and/or they become really successful. I read an article by Stephanie Meyers where she talked about almost using a pen name. I wonder now, if she wishes she had. How does she order pizza, or anything online with her credit card? How does she keep people/crazed fans/haters from finding out where she lives?

Anonymous said...

I've seen the multi-genre thing a lot and it is quite useful, I think. As a reader, I appreciate it when I'm picking out a book.

Jessica Nelson said...

I've thought about this too. Good post!

Susan Fields said...

I think pen names would be useful for an author who writes in different genres. Or someone who has a name like my maiden name - Rutowski. No one can pronouce it, let alone spell it.

About The Author

Katie Salidas is a USA Today bestselling author and RONE award winner known for her unique genre-blending style.

Since 2010 she's penned five bestselling book series: the Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, Chronicles of the Uprising, and the all-new Agents of A.S.S.E.T. series. As her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.

In her spare time Katie also produces and hosts a YouTube talk show; Spilling Ink. She also has a regular column on First Comics News where she explores writing from a nerdy perspective.