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Do most authors use Pen Names?

Posted: February 6th, 2013, 9:41 pm
by Philabuster
I started thinking about this after I discovered several authors I knew writing under pen names. Do most authors use pen names? Is there a specific thing to shoot for when choosing a pen name?

Re: Do most authors use Pen Names?

Posted: February 7th, 2013, 10:51 am
by polymath
The superlative "most" like all superlatives is a sketchy descriptive term. Its superlative meaning diminishes the impact of an argumentation claim or a voice's strength.

Many authors use pen names for marketing purposes and for anonymity to protect their privacy rights. Women writers prior to the mid '60s used pen names because they were not respected as artists. They often published under their given and middle names' initials and sur names. Or under assumed male given names.

Writers might also use pen names when they publish in multiple genres. Their respective audiences can follow them under one name without another genre product impacting their appreciation for a single product line.

Also, if one name reputation spoils for whatever reason, a new, clean identity doesn't come with baggage. Academics often publish scholalry works under their statutory name but a pen name when they want to conceal their off-track identity from peers or, vice versa, their academic identity from mass culture consumers, for example.

Also, a pen name might be more accessible and appealing to consumers than a statutory name like Wetherington Theodore Frederick Tisboroughton IV. On the cover of a pulp mystery novel, that's a mouthful, not especially memorable, and at odds with the genre's marketing conventions. A pen name that's not too clever yet accentual might have stronger marketing impact. Say, Merit Blake, called Merry by his acquaintances, who's anything but merry.

Re: Do most authors use Pen Names?

Posted: March 28th, 2013, 12:40 pm
by Shipple
I have to imagine it's not vital to decide on something like this until after you are putting out a book. And, unless you're self-publishing, you can get input from professionals - namely whoever is putting out your book and (if you go that route) your agent.

I mean, it's good to built a web presence with whatever name you're going to publish under, but I doubt it's worth sweating over until you have a book in the works. (Unless you are developing a ginormous web presence, in which case, congrats!)

Re: Do most authors use Pen Names?

Posted: August 22nd, 2013, 9:00 pm
by John Celestri

Just joined the forum, so I'm new to the group.

My wife and I decided to write under a pen name, combining our first names into "Cathie John", which very much reflects our collaborative efforts. It also takes up less cover space than if we used both our names: John Celestri and Cathie Celestri.

Suggestion: If you decide to use a totally fictitious pen name, then come up with one that has punch to it (like "Philabuster" ;)).