>What’s in a Name? How do you choose a pen name and should you?

Mask

Do you use a Nom de Plume?

>Do you recognize any of these Author names?  Richard Bachman, Mark Twain, J.D. Robb, Paul French, David Axton, Joanne Rowling, Dawn Cook.

Give up?

They are Stephen King, Samuel Clemens, Nora Roberts, Issac Asimov, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, Kim Harrison.  So when do you use a pen name?

There are several reasons to publish under a Nom de Plume instead of your own.  In some cases, for an already established Author, a switch to a different genre is the push. For instance, while Auroa Hartsmith might be an okay name for a romance author, it might not work for a horror author…unless she is rewriting a new version of Frankenstein.

Another reason is privacy.  Some authors are pretty quiet in their home lives.  They may not want to share so much of their real persona with the public until they are putting on their game face for press reviews and panels and signings.  There are also authors who are writing about controversial or adult subjects.  Their privacy is important because of possible harmful repercussions to their dayjobs or public reputations.

An author may want to write more books than a publishing house is willing to commit to, so writing under a different name helps the author avoid legal entanglementsif they move to a new house, or even publish for themselves.  It all depends on the contract entered in to originally.

A new Author may want to keep their options open for future publications to varying audiences.  Perhaps the voice you are writing in now is suitable for children’s literature, but say you want to use the same name to write a horror or adult novel.  The voice would change according to the audience, and the subject matter would be inappropriate for the kiddies, so the name should follow suit, to avoid complications.

Some Authors simply don’t feel the name has a good ring to it, and they want a name that sounds younger, or older according to their tale.

Choosing a pen name that does not give away your gender can be helpful in marketing your book to a larger audience.  Unfortunately, it is still common that people tend to buy books leaning toward a certain gender for a specific genre.  J.K. Rowling’s publisher felt that her gender might limit her target audience in marketing a book with a boy protagonist.  J.K. Rowling instead of Joanne Rowling is a gender neutral choice.

And here’s an interesting snippet: When an author chooses a name, they may be encouraged by their publisher to select a name that comes after the letter “E” and before the letter “N” in the alphabet.  This is because, according to market research, people have a tendency to look at titles from those that are near the top to middle of the shelves.  They are less likely to choose a title from the lower shelves.That means that if you have a last name starting with a “Z” your work will not be as visible to the customer trying to find a good read.

So, many authors do use a pen name for many and varied reasons. I didn’t see a whole lot of cons discussed, and in fact, the pros are numerous, so I wrote this Pen Name Blog in a positive light.  Have fun choosing yours!

C.K. Garner =^,^=

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About C.K. Garner: Blog Paper Scissor
Author of "Stealing Time" a steampunk YA short story. http://www.musapublishing.com "If you are a Dumps Monster, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet: I will end you."

4 Responses to >What’s in a Name? How do you choose a pen name and should you?

  1. Pingback: Review: Vengeance in Death by Norah Roberts writing as J. D, Robb | The Book Shelf, My Book Blog

  2. >I really need to come up with a pen name now!

  3. C.K.Garner says:

    >Yah! You're right! Seanan McGuire is a fine example of using a Nom de Plume. And Rowling found something that sounded better. People make weird name connections. One might bug, and the next is fine. I was looking at KC Garner, but it was taken by a Mommy Blogger! That's not exactly what I'm going for. Also, in print, I thought that C.K. looked better in print, though I liked how KC sounded out loud. So I am pretty content with C.K. Garner. I just realized that it also falls into the before "N" category. While Rowling is so big that it doesn't matter anymore where she is placed on the shelf, I'm still going to experiment with the one I've selected. Plus, if you look up Garner on Amazon, it is a short list. The only pop ups are Jennifer Garner and James Garner, and a dude who writes about grammar usage, etc.. So, that means I'm easier to find in a search for my book! 😀

  4. Xtina says:

    >Ha! I knew all but two. You forgot Seanan McGuire….aka Mira Grant. Interesting little tidbit. JK Rowling made up the K part of the name since she doesn't have a middle name.

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