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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.

    Votes: 6 13.0%
  • Yes, because my real name isn't as marketable for my given subgenre.

    Votes: 3 6.5%
  • Yes, because I just like the sound of this particular pen name I've created.

    Votes: 2 4.3%
  • Yes, because of both fear for crazy people, and to optimize marketability.

    Votes: 10 21.7%
  • Yes, because of a reason not mentioned which I will (hopefully) explain below.

    Votes: 6 13.0%
  • No, because it's just simpler to use my actual legal name for everything.

    Votes: 4 8.7%
  • No, because my real name is quite marketable for my given subgenre.

    Votes: 2 4.3%
  • No, because I believe pen names are unethical, nefarious misrepresentations.

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • No, because I simply do not see the point.

    Votes: 4 8.7%
  • No, but, I also do use pen names depending on the subgenre.

    Votes: 1 2.2%
  • No, because of a reason not mentioned which I will (hopefully) explain below.

    Votes: 4 8.7%
  • Undecided.

    Votes: 3 6.5%
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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, it’s 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 shouldn’t 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, let’s 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 don’t 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 author’s 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 it’s not as easy as picking a name out of thin air. There is much research to be done first.

So chose wisely.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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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NikOK said:
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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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.
 

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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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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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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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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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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.
 
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