Poll

Do you avoid using your real name as your author name? Why or why not?

Yes, because the internet age has given strength to the crazies.
Yes, because my real name isn't as marketable for my given subgenre.
Yes, because I just like the sound of this particular pen name I've created.
Yes, because of both fear for crazy people, and to optimize marketability.
Yes, because of a reason not mentioned which I will (hopefully) explain below.
No, because it's just simpler to use my actual legal name for everything.
No, because my real name is quite marketable for my given subgenre.
No, because I believe pen names are unethical, nefarious misrepresentations.
No, because I simply do not see the point.
No, but, I also do use pen names depending on the subgenre.
No, because of a reason not mentioned which I will (hopefully) explain below.
Undecided.

Author Topic: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?  (Read 1333 times)  

Offline Corvid

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Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
« on: July 29, 2020, 12:14:04 pm »
I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing in this regard, so I thought I'd ask how others feel about it. Thanks for voting.


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    Offline CassieL

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #1 on: July 29, 2020, 12:16:41 pm »
    I also use a pen name to separate my non-writing professional career from my writing one.

    8 Pen Names. Genres: Non-fiction, Speculative Fiction, Romance.

    Offline Randall Wood

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #2 on: July 29, 2020, 12:31:39 pm »
    Pen Names. Its never simple.
     
    Some of the most well-known, famous authors have used a pen name to conceal their identities. Some use a completely different name. Others resort to using initials or reversing their first and middle names. Some change the sex of their name to fit certain genres and others adopt an androgynous name that works for everything. Whatever the reason, its not an unusual practice among authors.

    But why?

    A pen name can function as a sort of shield, allowing the author to conceal his or her identity. A pen name can also serve as a means to better connect with the readers. It can serve to separate you from the pack.

    Many authors wish to publish under their legal, given name, and there is certainly nothing wrong with doing so. You might wish to capitalize on your expertise in the field you are writing in, take advantage of some prior fame or family relation, or simply wish the world to know you for you.

    But there are several reasons where a pen name might be more beneficial, both to their privacy and their career.

    Same name If the author has the unfortunate luck of having the same name as an already successful author, actress, politician, or other famous person, good or bad, a pen name becomes almost a necessity.

    Sex- The authors sex in relation to the genre they write in is a factor. While it shouldnt matter, for some reason readers assign an expected sex to the genres they read. Most authors of romance for instance are female, while the thriller genre is dominated by males. Readers might be hesitant to step outside those norms and try a new author in the genre they like to read if the sex of the author is different from what they are accustomed to. A pen name can help remove any pre-conceived notions, internal or external, and allow the author to write freely in the genre of his or her choice.

    Complicated name- Some authors have names that are long, hard to spell, difficult to pronounce, hard to remember, boring, plain, antiquated, or a combination of all of these. Actors in particular choose their stage names with all of these things in mind. The author has the added burden of their name having to fit well onto the cover and spine of a book.
    Avoiding overexposure Sometimes a pen name is employed to avoid overuse.  For example, lets say an author publishes numerous pieces in a magazine, or they are very prolific and write faster than their audience can keep up. Rather than have their name listed each time they publish; the editor will use a pen name for some of the pieces to avoid overexposing the author to the readers.

    Cross-genres An author might use a pen name when writing in multiple genres in an effort to differentiate their work to their fan base. Your favorite author might write intense political thrillers as well as science fiction. A pen name for each genre would be an easy way for his fans to keep their works apart.

    Legal issues and Safety- An author may have relatives that dont wish to share his fame. Or they may be a private person and not want their personal life infiltrated by their fans. They may use a pen name to protect their children from the fallout of having a famous parent. They may write about subjects that are controversial and not wish their home or place of work to be easily found via the internet. Keep in mind that while you may not be famous today, you never know how that will change in the years to come.

    Subject matter- An authors real-world existence may be far removed from what they chose to write about. Politics, erotica, and religion are three examples of topics authors may not wish their friends and family to know they write about. A pen name is an easy solution to this issue.

    There is no right or wrong reason for using a pen name. It is essentially a personal decision the author needs to make long before it is time to publish their book. And its not as easy as picking a name out of thin air. There is much research to be done first.

    So chose wisely.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #3 on: July 29, 2020, 12:32:52 pm »
    My surname is Pengelly. There's not many of us around. So instead of trying to come up with some other unusual name, might as well stick with what I have!

    Offline Carol (was Dara)

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #4 on: July 29, 2020, 01:10:44 pm »
    Yes, because I like the separation between real me and writer me. I like stepping into a different self when working and then back into my casual self when relaxing.

    Lots of other reasons too, like privacy and keeping a clear separation between genres. My real name is super common, while variations of it would be too long to fit on a cover, etc. But overall, it's mainly the separation thing. A pen name helps me not feel self-conscious when writing or nervous when releasing. It helps me not take reviews too personally and allows me to adopt a more confident, chatty persona with readers than the real (extremely quiet) me ever could.

    Offline bkd-wa

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #5 on: July 29, 2020, 01:25:36 pm »
    I like keeping the real me separate from the book me. No one in the world, except 2 people close to me know that I write or code, and I like it that way. The main reason really is privacy and I don't like acquaintances getting involved in my personal interests.

    Offline NikOK

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #6 on: July 29, 2020, 01:42:58 pm »
    Yes, but just because I want to avoid 2-3 terrible, terrible exes.  I'd like to use my real name, but younger me got current me into this situation and now I just live with it.  Plus it is kind of fun to be able to use whatever name you want  :D

    Offline GeneDoucette

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #7 on: July 29, 2020, 01:51:16 pm »
    Nope. This is me. I have an internet presence that dates to 1990, and I've been writing under my name online since, oh, 1994?

    Offline Becca Mills

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #8 on: July 29, 2020, 02:02:52 pm »
    Yes, because I was a professor on the tenure track when I first published, and I worried that having self-published genre fiction on my resume would be a demerit: not only were books like that looked down on, but colleagues would wonder why I'd been wasting time I could've used to produce more scholarly work.

    Admittedly, the layer of insulation from the public is sort of nice, too. The vast, vast majority of readers are cool, but some aren't.

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    Offline P.W.JORDAN

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #9 on: July 29, 2020, 02:11:05 pm »
    Yes, but just because I want to avoid 2-3 terrible, terrible exes.  I'd like to use my real name, but younger me got current me into this situation and now I just live with it.  Plus it is kind of fun to be able to use whatever name you want  :D

    This gave me a giggle NikOK!

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    Offline EmberKent

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #10 on: July 29, 2020, 02:23:01 pm »
    All of my publishing has been as temporary experiments, so pen names were a given.

    Should I ever seriously publish, I think I still might have a pen name. Some of the books I've edited have me listed as editor and the algorithms aren't good at separating those tags. A search would return my work profiles instead of my books, or the other way around. It'd be problematic. Although, I don't think I'd have the patience for maintaining a second identity, so this would-be pen name would be pretty directly linked to my normal social media presence, and at that point I might as well just use the one name.

    I have a long time to decide.

    Offline notjohn

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #11 on: July 29, 2020, 03:52:59 pm »
    For the most part, I do write under my own name, but there are a few books that would likely surprise my readers, so I attribute them to fictional folk.
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    Offline Jena H

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #12 on: July 29, 2020, 05:13:24 pm »
    Yes, because I'm a private person and don't want my name "out there."  Plus, some people don't know that I write, and while I'm not at all embarrassed or ashamed, I'd just rather keep it private.
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    Offline Indy Strange

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #13 on: July 29, 2020, 05:52:12 pm »
    I like using pen names because I can throw in some hidden meaning into them, and I've seen some authors have problems with identity theft after becoming popular. Another problem I saw were authors with very distinctive names who were easily found online by neighbors who then spied on them hoping to steal any of their mail deliveries that looked valuable. There used to be issues with stalkers that writers who write steamy romance or erotica(what I work on) used to deal with, but that seems like it's calmed down over the years.
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    Offline Sapphire

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #14 on: July 29, 2020, 06:54:56 pm »
    I use my real name. Why? Because if I work hard enough to write it and put it out there, I want the credit. Some days I'm the only one who takes note, but now and then I get a big charge when someone says, "Is that really you?"
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    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #15 on: July 29, 2020, 08:31:15 pm »
    No, because it was too much trouble duplicating and maintaining all my social media accounts. 

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    Offline MJAshwood

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #16 on: July 29, 2020, 10:08:03 pm »
    I use a pen name simply because it looks more aesthetically pleasing on book covers than my real one.

    Offline vagabond.voyager

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #17 on: July 30, 2020, 01:11:50 am »
    It sometimes worries me that my GreatGrandKids know my real name.  :) I like privacy.

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #18 on: July 30, 2020, 06:08:45 am »
    For various reasons, most stated above.

    Offline Some Random Guy

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #19 on: July 30, 2020, 08:10:56 am »
    I started off using a pen name because I was still employed as a senior executive in a government IT organization. Using my real name would have brought me no end of irritations. Now that I'm retired, I kept on the pen name, just to separate the author me from the publisher me, because my publishing company is, by necessity, incorporated under my real name.

    Offline Crayola

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #20 on: July 30, 2020, 06:12:36 pm »
    I started off using a pen name, but published a few post apoc books under my real name so I could show my Grandpa I was actually doing it.  Then they took off... now I write under my real name all the time.  It has it's ups and downs.  The only bad thing is, sometimes readers assume you ARE your character and I've had a couple of stalker issues in the last few years.

    Offline Lydniz

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #21 on: July 31, 2020, 01:19:34 pm »
    Yes, because I like the separation between real me and writer me. I like stepping into a different self when working and then back into my casual self when relaxing.

    Lots of other reasons too, like privacy and keeping a clear separation between genres. My real name is super common, while variations of it would be too long to fit on a cover, etc. But overall, it's mainly the separation thing. A pen name helps me not feel self-conscious when writing or nervous when releasing. It helps me not take reviews too personally and allows me to adopt a more confident, chatty persona with readers than the real (extremely quiet) me ever could.

    Yes, because I'm a private person and don't want my name "out there."  Plus, some people don't know that I write, and while I'm not at all embarrassed or ashamed, I'd just rather keep it private.

    ^^^ These things. Also, I have a general rule of keeping my real name off the internet as far as possible. I always remember a case in the UK of a nurse who was arrested on suspicion of mass murder at a hospital. It turned out it wasn't her, but in the meantime all the tabloids had published every single Facebook holiday photo she'd ever posted of her drinking cocktails through a straw out of her cleavage etc. That will all be online forever now*.

    *I have never committed mass murder or drunk a cocktail out of my cleavage.

    Offline nail file

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #22 on: August 01, 2020, 03:06:32 am »
    My name has unusual spelling. It's makes Amazon searches on my name difficult. It's easier to use a pen name with standard spelling.

    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #23 on: August 04, 2020, 03:11:25 am »
    I started out using a pen name, but decided to switch to pen names for fiction and my real name for some nonfiction projects.

    I think everyone will have their own reasons for using or not using a pen name. None of them are wrong, really. Do what works best for your own situation.

    Offline Rachel Anne

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    Re: Do you avoid using your real name as your author name?
    « Reply #24 on: August 04, 2020, 06:27:33 am »
    I write under pen names, but unfortunately, I have to promote my stuff sometimes on FaceBook with my actual profile name in groups. I keep my FB profile private, but because of this I've received a couple of friends request I've had to delete...

    Mostly, I just don't want my family life accessed by people I don't personally know. Pictures of my children, locations, etc.

    By far my biggest pet peeve about FB.

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