Should You Use a Pen Name?

Have you ever wanted to publish your work, but you didn’t want anyone to know you wrote it? The truth is, authors like this are more common than you think. If you thought Napoleon Lovecraft was my legal name, it isn’t. So I figured that for this post, I’d go into some reasons why you might want to consider using a pen name.

Hiding Your Identity

This is the most obvious one, since hiding your identity is going to naturally happen if you choose to use a pen name. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have both written novels under other names, and in Rowling’s case, it was because of the massive success of Harry Potter. Without fan expectation, her book was able to get a fair look by readers, which didn’t happen with her adult novel, The Casual Vacancy. But this is the story of a publishing elite. The truth is, there could be a hundred reasons why you want to hide who you are. Perhaps you’re a Mormon publishing erotica. Whatever the reason, if you want to hide who you are, pen names are an option you want to look into.

You Want to Switch Genres

This is a valid reason to use a pen name. If you’re a published author and you write (for example) in the romance genre, it will confuse your readers if you turn around and publish sci-fi. Therefore, using two different pen names is an option you can think about.

You Want to Distance Yourself From a Failed Project

If anyone wants to know why I’m writing under a pen name, this is why. An earlier draft of Kingslayer was published by a small press and wasn’t treated very well by them. So I’m changing my writing name and I’ve changed the title to hide the failure from the masses. I’m not the only author who’d done this either.

Your Name Is the Same As a Famous Person

This is self-explanatory. Say your name is George Martin. Your books won’t sell because anyone looking for them will find George R.R. Martin’s books.

These are just a few reasons you may want to use a pen name. There are likely others, and if you choose to do this, you need to think hard about why you’re doing it.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017


Author: napoleonlovecraft

Napoleon Lovecraft is a blogger and author from the suburbs of Maumelle, Arkansas. Born in 1988, Lovecraft is a lover of the fantasy genre. It is his goal to write in as many fantasy subgenres before he kicks the bucket, with stories ranging from short stories to full-length novels. His debut novel, Kingslayer, is expected to be a unique take on the High Fantasy genre, having been told in first person and aided with footnotes, not to mention the fact that it is set in a non-medieval fantasy world. Lovecraft is studying for his BA in both Professional Writing and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. He lives in Greenbrier, Arkansas with his family, where his dog and seven cats keep him in line.

2 thoughts on “Should You Use a Pen Name?”

  1. I’ve thought about using a pen name before (I imagine a lot of writers have.) My name seems kind of plain for a writer, plus I have the whole “famous person with the same name” problem as well (although I’m not sure how many people even remember him at this point.)

    I had a good, solid writerly name picked out, and I’ve had in the back of my mind for quite some time. And then the other day I came across a writer with that same name. Yeesh!

    So, I might try to stick it out with my own name. As for plainness, that could conceivably be mitigated. After all “Stephen King” is fairly plain if you set aside the fact the name has become so iconic. As for having the same name as someone else, maybe it’s a challenge to see if I can bury his name entirely under my own. Yep, spite, that’s a good thing to build a career on, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The interesting thing is, this list isn’t even complete. Some authors have used pen names because their legal name is embarrassing. Four instance, Anne Rice’s real name is Howard. Also, as with my case, some authors use pen names to make their gender more clear (my legal name is Aubrey, after all). Yep. Number of reasons abound, and all are good reasons.

      On a side note, I actually know a Bryan White, or in his case, “Brian.”

      Liked by 1 person

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