The Pen Name

I was wondering what everyone thought about using pen names or their own names when publishing. Do you think it’s easier to use a pen name or your own name?


  1. I did a pen name for a story that I only intend to show a couple of people. I don’t want that story to get out to everyone.

    I almost used a pen name for my science fiction thriller series since it’s a different genre than romance, but then I thought I might have some readers interested enough in my work to check out sci-fi thrillers. If I like an author and that author writes in multiple genres, I’ll check the other books out. So for me, keeping my name was about increasing the likelihood the story will actuall get read (and hopefully at some point bought). When I’m done with the series, I plan to combine it into one book and sell it.

    Now, I’ve seen other authors use pen names when they switch genres. I’m thinking Nora Roberts/JR Ward as an example. It helps the reader separate out her work based on their genre preferences. Since she goes with commercial publishers, I wonder how much of that was her decision or her publishers?

    1. Stephannie Beman says:

      I’ve heard that it’s usually the publisher, especially if the author goes to a different publishing house for her business.

  2. Oh, and some authors might choose pen names if their first book bombed and they ruined it with a publisher. (just a thought)

  3. Stephannie Beman says:

    I thought of using a pen name and then thought better of it because when you’re marketing a book your also marketing the author’s name. And can you imagine introducing yourself and then telling people your pen name as well when they hear you’re an author.

    1. Yeah, I think that would make things pretty complicated. You;d probably have to just market yourself under the pen name, and sort of abandon your real name to the public, like a chatroom nic where they call someone “Panda” or “Rainbow” instead of their real name.

  4. The funny thing is I am so vain that i never thought about a pen name, LOL! Even back in high school (when I was determined I would be famous!) I planned to use Joleene R. Harris (my maiden name). The problem I had when I first started looking for an agent was trying to decide between Harris-Naylor or just Naylor or Jo (which I prefer to go by) or Joleene.

    So, I stopped and did some thinking about why i wanted to use Harris-Naylor vs Naylor. it wasn’t because it was catchier, or easier to remember, but because I wanted to make sure that all those people I went to school with recognized me when i got famous. needless to say, that’s a pretty dumb reason, so i ditched the Harris, since I only use it for legal stuff now, anyway.

    When it came to Jo or Joleene, all it took was a google/Amazon search to decide. April Hamiltons book suggests to search for yourself and see if you have any other author competition with that name. Not only did the search turn up no other authors with that name, but it only turned up one result in the top twenty that weren’t really me! She;s a photographer spelled Jolene Naylor. The other 19 were all me on mySpace or yahoo groups or facebook or… But, Jo Naylor yielded a lot of results that weren’t me.

    That said, though, there have been times when I’ve thought “Gosh, do I want my Aunt to read this and know it’s mine?!?” but on the other hand, I decided that if I didn’t have the guts to stand behind whatever I wrote, then I didn’t need to write it in the first place!

    1. Googling the name first is an excellent idea. I got lucky. No one had my name. I can understand the vanity. It would be nice for those people back in high school to know I went on to publish books. But alas…such is not the case. This is an area where it helps to be a guy. LOL

      And ditto on the last paragraph. I don’t want some of my family to read my books either, but I agree that the author should be able to stand behind their work.

      1. yeah no one seems to have mine either! It’s that extra “e” my mother put in! In fact wiki didn’t even have “Joleene” as a valid spelling of “Jolene” until I added it, LOL! People just have it out for e’s I guess!

        I’ve decided that alerting all those people I went to school with is what Facebook is for! >:) *gwahahahahahaha*

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