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Pros and cons of using a pen name

Posted by Maria Murnane | February 29, 2016

Sometimes when people find out that I’m an author, they ask if I write under my own name or if I use a pseudonym. Given how hard it is to generate awareness about my books using the name I’ve had my entire life, this question always makes me laugh. However, I do think for some authors a pen name isn’t necessarily a bad idea, so I thought it was worth writing a blog post on the subject.

If you’ve already published a book, then you’ve learned first-hand how much effort goes into promoting it, no matter who your publisher is. And if you’ve read my blog with any regularity you’ll see that many of my suggestions for book marketing involve tapping into personal and professional networks. College alumni magazines and alumni groups, fraternity/sorority connections, business associations, social media accounts – these all offer receptive, credible channels for getting news about your book out to the world. If you try doing that under another name, you’re going to run into some obstacles. How would you contact your college alumni magazine, for example? It’s certainly doable, but it would take a lot more effort. And what about your author website? Or Facebook fan page? Author headshot? Author bio? Twitter account? Email address? Creating all of that for a fictitious person is possible, but it sounds pretty time-consuming to me.

However, I do think using a pen name could be a good idea in the following scenarios:

  • You write erotica or a variation of it and prefer to keep it on the down low.
  • For whatever reason you don’t want anyone in your personal life to know you’ve written a book – yet, or maybe ever.
  • Your book includes personal experiences too painful or intimate to present as your own (e.g., a memoir).
  • You’re well respected in a certain field or industry and prefer to keep your writing life separate.
  • You just want to test the waters without worrying about being embarrassed if your book flops (completely understandable).

I’d love to hear from those of you who write under a pen name. Do you agree with me?

-Maria

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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