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Pen Name vs Real Name???

446 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Jerri Kay Lincoln
I have always debated about using pen names but in the end I always end up using mine. I tell myself that if the book (under my real name) takes off then it'll help with my other books under my name. Plus, I fear, writing with a pen name you have to start over by building a new audience, which is a downer. I do understand, though, that a pen name does give you freedom to write what ever you want without alienating your existing audience, so there are benefits, too.

Those using pen names can you share your experiences, please? :)
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Pen names worked for writers such as Stephen King and Robert Ludlum, if memory serves. Maybe there is biographical information on writers that did both and say both why they did it and what might have been the benefits.

I ended up using my own name for my historical fiction hoping to build a 'brand'. Like you have, I think. But I've written some 'erotic' stories under a pen name. That had two benefits. First, of course, it protected my branding and my privacy. Secondly, I found that a pen name gave me a sense of freedom and suppressed some personal 'filters'. That was a delightful positive on my prose to my surprise. It was Clark Kent and Superman. I could say things in ways my 'true' persona would hesitate to say. And not just the erotic stuff. Many restraints dropped away. It was a learning experience that improved my writing.

So, to me, there may be a benefit to the pen name if you think the things you want to write might erode your fan base. Would a writer of spy or war novels alienate his fans if he wrote a romance/relationship tear jerker?
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There's another person I used to be. Sometimes I check her email account and find messages from people. It confuses me.
I wish I never did my pen name. It botched my sales. People didnt realize it was me, even though I said, dude, that's me! I took it a step further and put by pen name and me. They still didn't realize it was me. People are busy and want to glance at stuff to know what it is and who it's by. I found I had to do double marketing and branding to get the pen name the attention it needed. Why did I do a pen name in the first place? Because I switched genres. I started writing romance and I had been writing YA. Some thought that different names would make it easier for my fans to tell what was what. Turns out that was not true. Regret. I changed everything back to my name in Nov. In Dec, the pen name books were my bestsellers. To the fans, it looked like a huge backlist jumped up. Be ready to do branding/marketing double time if you have multiple names.
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The books that I've written with pen names are books that I don't want people to know that *I* wrote . . .

My two India books . . . saying bad (and good) things about my brother's dead guru.

My "Mom" book . . . telling family secrets.

My Cyberdating book . . . which may or may not be fictional . . .
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