Reader Friday: Do You Use a Pen Name?

Do you write under a pen name? If so,why, and how did you choose that name? If not, are there any circumstances under which you’d consider using a pen name?shutterstock_226591972


16 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Do You Use a Pen Name?

  1. I’d considered it, since George Smith is perhaps a bit lacking in “pizazz” (and G. or G.C. are not all that much “snazzier”), but then I realized George Jones seemed to do alight in the music world, as does Jamey Johnson, and not to forget Craig Johnson with his Longmire series, (which reminds me of an Ogden Nash inspired piece I penned a while ago – if I may:
    The myth of Smith
    Is that we’re so numerous,
    A fact the Johnsons
    Find quite humorous.).

    As to when I might use a nom de plume~ or nom de guerre as my dad used to say, I s’pose it might be if there’s another G.S. out there and I wanted to avoid confusion… but so far there doesn’t seem to be a lot of competition for shelf space in that part of the alphabet.



  2. I considered going with a pen name for my upcoming novel, because my surname (acquired by marriage) is eleven letters long, but changed my mind because I like it and because it’s uncommon.

    However, after I finish the two related novels, I might use my maiden name for a series I’ve got planned, because it’s in a different genre. I guess that’s not really a pen name, maybe a semi-pen name.

  3. I used a pen name (K. Bennett) to launch a new genre, the zombie legal thriller, for Kensington. At the time I was traditionally published only and the new material was so different from my other work my agent and I thought the pen name would be best. If it had been a year or two later, I probably would not do it. It was done so bookstores wouldn’t be confused about where to stock, but in the digital age that is hardly an issue. Then there’s the burden of adding a social media presence for the name.

    Now, branding distinction is best do through cover design and description, IMO.

  4. I use the Pen name Alec Peche as my real name Linda Smith is already an author publishing books in Canada. I chose my name for gender neutrality and the availability of the domain name for my website.

  5. IM considering a pen name as the next book (first in a series) is a major change in genre but haven’t decided. Ditto for the book after that though it would land in my YA work. Going to be a different voice for that one as the main character is foreign.

  6. I use a pen name. I use my middle name and my mother’s maiden name.

    A couple of years ago, I made the mistake of giving a one star review on Amazon to a particularly bad writer. After a few back and forth comments on another website, this troll attacked me by finding every trace of me on the web and writing disgusting things about me and my family.

    I quit that website and began using a pen name. That way he (or any other nutcase) couldn’t get to me. I live in a small town where being discreet is important.

  7. I use my tribal name. It’s 12 letters long, and it was given me by my uncle, not my parents.

    There is no particular blessing or tradition associated with it.

    Speaking of tribal names, my all-time favorite for a preacher is “Dr. Powhatan W. James.” Dr. James is the late pastor of the First Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa, AL.

  8. All of Mr. Basil’s pens have names.

    I tend to prefer Giselle, smooth and curvy, just the right weight, delicate but not too light, easy in the hands, azure lines glide easily onto the surface of the paper into lovely streams of words.

    My brother Fillii enjoys the company of Fiona, a very ancient pen made of Irish Oak, shining with it’s red and yellow enamel, her nibs are of priceless silver and whichever ink she is dipped in, her strokes are always intentional and direct.

    Gnillii tends to get confused by ink pens, and prefers to use quills which he doesn’t name but the goose from whom he gets them he calls Beatrice.

    Boffin, well Boffin doesn’t write much, but when he does he has a very special pen he calls Fido, it has images of dogs carved into it. Alright, it is actually a piece of chalk, and I carved the dogs into it for him as a gift at Christmas 1963. That tells you how little he writes, the chalk is still six inches long after all this time.

    Basil himself has a pen he calls Ensoleillé, because when he writes with it he feels like the sun is shining down on him with story thoughts and such, and it is also the name of one of his muses, you can read about them here.

  9. I did use a pen name… once… but ended up liking the name so much I used it as the name of a protagonist in a later novel. That’s the upside (the only upside) of a novel not getting any traction, you can borrow from it down the road and nobody ever knows.

  10. I do use a pen name: Peggy Blann Phifer. Phifer is my married name, Blann is my maiden name, and Peggy is a nickname. My real name is Margaret. I use the Blann so that all my Blann relatives–and there are many–would recognize me. And everyone knows me as Peggy. I only use the Margaret for legal stuff. Newer friends only knew me as Phifer.
    At least this made sense to me when I created it. 🙂

  11. I use a pen name on every thing I write. I use my maiden name as part of the pen name for my Dad who only had daughters, no sons. When I published my first fiction short story, it meant a lot to me to see his name in print. Frances

  12. My 1st book was published under my real name but there were two other authors with the same name at that time. I switched to my maiden name for a few books but there were some unexpected repercussions with family members so I switched to a pseudonym several years ago. Initially, I was disappointed to “lose” my legal name. I was proud of my books and wanted my real name on them. But now, with the wide-reaching internet searches and social media, I am grateful for the ability to control my privacy.

  13. Two friends and I are about to launch a cooperative imprint dedicated to erotica. We will all have pen names, probably more than one.

    I’ll write historical erotica under one and darker fetish stuff under another.

    I kid you not, we used an erotic pen name generator and had a blast with it.


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