Getting their name printed on the cover a book is one of the proudest moment for any writer, so why some choose to use a pen name.
Well, many authors already did that and here are some of the reasons which I found to be useful.
Why do Authors Use a Pen Name
Authors mainly use a pen name to become anonymous when publishing their work, without being harming the expectations of their existing audience, as well as for trying different genres. Established authors use a pen name to mainly to write cross genres.
Reasons for Using a Pen Name When Self-Publishing
There are many benefits of using a pen name and the most common reasons for using a pen name, especially in the self-publishing industry are given below. These are:
1. You don’t feel comfortable
This is one of the most heard reasons for using a pen name for publishing a book.
Many writers write about their broken and depressing childhood and how they overcome such situations.
These are the authors who went through physical abuse during their childhood, and later wrote a book on the same.
These authors don’t want their families or friends to know about their struggles, and that’s why they choose to use a pen name for publishing their book.
They want to keep their story anonymous but still wants to get the story out of their head.
Many psychiatrists also recommend writing a story to their patients so that they may feel less depressed and can move out from their dark zone. As those were the only conversation between psychiatrists and the patients, so they want to keep it between themselves, thus choosing to write anonymously or use a pen name for their book.
2. You Need a Fresh Start
Many authors choose to use a pen name for their books because they want to get a fresh start in their writing journey.
They may choose to go with their pen name when their previous works didn’t get a positive response or may be filled with a lot of negative and hatred responses.
So when your initial works only get such a significant amount of negative responses, it is better to get a fresh start. And that’s what causes some authors to use a pen name for self-publishing.
A new name gives the author another chance to release their work without worrying about the previous negative responses. A new name offers the possibilities to bypass the fact that their writing will be immediately rejected upon knowing their real name.
And thus they can stick to their writing dream.
3. Your real name is already in use and in bestseller ranking
Let’s say your name is J.K Rowling and you also want to publish fiction novels. So do you think you can make a name for yourself? It’s a BIG NO.
This is because J. K Rowling is a known name in the industry and is a bestselling author.
Now if you want to publish under your own name, you will be called copy cat and other terms, like you used this name to gain publicity and so on even though it is your real name.
So it’s really best to use a pen name even you don’t want to. This will separate you from them. And that’s why some author uses a pen name for their work.
There are so many familiar names you can find that get lost in the crowd, so having a unique name can give you some edge from standing out of the crowd. You want to be memorable. And when people hear your name, they can make out who is the person behind the novel.
4. Your Job
Nowadays, more and more companies do a thorough background check of their employees as well as monitor their social media activities as well.
So if your job demands your full attention and you are not allowed to work anything else, then writing under a pen name is the best thing you can do.
Also, if you are working with some government institutions, they don’t want you to work on other things. So using a pen name will be the best way to publish your books.
Even I saw one teacher who is teaching English, showed her interest to write a romance novel. When this news reached student’s parents, Her idea was criticized by many parents saying that they don’t want their children’s teacher writing romance novels.
Yes, these things still happen in our so-called modern society.
5. It’s marketable
Many authors use the pen name just for the marketing purpose. They kind of choose the name that flows with the genre they are writing on.
You can also choose multiple pen names depending upon the genre you want to write.
Let’s say you want to write a book on pregnancy, and you are a male, so even choosing a pen female name can increase your chances of making an amazing sale.
This is a fact. Remember J. K Rowling not just used initials as a pen name, she used a male pen name for writing her crime mystery series.
So depending upon the genre or audience’s interest, many authors choose their pen name for their book. In self-publishing, it is more common.
6. You want to write in multiple genres
If you are an established author under one particular genre, trying out a completely different genre is quite impossible as you have to find a diverse reader base, as well as your existing audience, may not like this decision.
So many authors use a pen name to write in a completely different genre without disappointing their existing audience.
Though you can publish anything under your own name, you will definitely get good results when you publish them separately.
And some authors don’t want anyone to know what type of work they do. They may write in some exotic or adult genre, but don’t want all that genre to be associated with their daily life. They don’t want to known as an adult writer or something else which is entirely different from what they want to be known for.
And due to which they use a pen name for their books so that they can try different genre without being directly associated with them.
Politics being one of the most delicate topics to write a book on. Depending upon the country you live in, writing something which doesn’t relate to the government ideology or majority of people’s opinions, it might be dangerous for you.
You should always consider that extremists come in all shapes and colour, and you don’t know who’s gonna object your published work.
Though if you write in any political matter, you can gain a fan following as well. But if you live in a country where opposite views are held dear, writing with a pen name will definitely be a good idea.
Again gender-based discrimination still happens in this era. As a female, if you write about something like military, defence, etc. you may get sexist opinions. In some countries, these things happen on a large scale, whereas in some it is only limited for a particular set of orthodox people. Now when a male writer writes about some sensitive topics or sometimes even romance and love, it gets the same sexist remarks.
Though through self-publishing, many authors step up and break this gender-based approach, still some authors prefer to use a pen name. This is because people assume that the genre should match with the gender.
9. You are just writing for money
Now if you are only publishing in every genre possible for the sake of money, using a pen name will work best for you.
Authors who just want to make money writing ebooks under any genre under the sky, they use pen name based on the genre they want to jump in. They tend to use multiple pen name and publish their books. Sometimes they use multiple pen name for a single genre and publish books under their pen name. What they were doing here is they are creating a competition between their own books. Whichever book a reader is going to buy will make them money anyway. Though it is difficult, many writers who can bulk produce short stories, are making a good profit.
Even though they may have one genre which they write about passionately, and that’s what they show the world.
So by using a pen name, they can separate their hobby from the money-making machine.
Authors That Don’t Use Their Real Names
These are the famous authors that use a pen name
- Joanne Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series and better known by her pen name J.K. Rowling
- Stephen King published five novels as Richard Bachman
- Anne Rice
- Richard Matheson
- Agatha Christie
- Dean Koontz
- C. S. Lewis
Apart from these famous authors, there are apparently N numbers of authors who use or used a pen name for publishing.
The reason may be different from author to author, but the fact is that they used their pen name to publish their works.
My Final Word on Using Pen Name While Self-Publishing
Depending upon your end goal, it is solely your decision to make.
I recommend you to avoid using a pen name while self-publishing if you can.
You should only use a pen name when you want to write fictions and exotic adult books which you don’t want to let the world know about.
Even famous authors used like J. K Rowling, Stephen King, etc. used the pen name when trying different genres but later revealed.