There is a subject, or rather a decision that every writer goes through. Yes, even I am dealing with this decision as of late. The subject is that on using or not using a pen name. Pen names have long been used in the history of our industry. Back during the time of Little Women, female writers were discouraged from writing, for it was long held that it was a male industry. Well, women can write just as men. No, I am not attacking men but rather stating a fact that could also be considered an opinion.
If women wanted to write and be published they had to either take on a male name or would keep their writing to themselves and upon their death it would be later published. Even J.K. Rowling was told this with the Harry Potter series when it came time for her to leap into the world of publication.
Aside from J.K. Rowling, there was a long held belief that when it comes to children writers, that little boys would rather read books written by a man then by female. While this may be fact, and gender bias. On the other hand, it should be looked at who is teaching children, but I will save that rant for another day, for I will stick to the subject on pen names.
Besides gender bias and the history of women writers on their treatment, there is another side to using a pen name and that is based on genre writing. There is a long held belief that if you are going to write in other genres, then you need to use a pen name. There are some famous cases of this and there are some that have broken this as well.
One example of this from the traditionally published, is Stephen King. Yes, the thriller mastermind behind some of New York Times best sellers. He has written in other genres while still using his name. While Nora Roberts, who for the most part writes romance, has indulged into the world of mystery using the pen name, J.D. Robb as well as Jill March and Sarah Hardesty. Even the name Nora Roberts is also a pen name. Now on the self-publishing side, an author that I follow on YouTube, Mandi Lynn is also a pen name. A pen name that she has used in different genres that she has published.
While using a different or a same pen name for when it comes to writing and publishing genres may be up to the author to make. But I have been told that it is an industry wide practice to using pen names when writing or publishing in different genres. Granted, I made different imprints under Moonspinner3 Books, for this purpose, but should I also have to use a different name of this as well.
Granted, on the J.D. Robb titles, it does have the subheading or rather by line of Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb or something to that effect. I have thought about this matter quite a bit and while it maybe something to consider, but on the other hand from a business standpoint, does it make sense?
Hear me out on this, using a different pen name, whether you label that you are using a certain pen name or not can make branding hard. Let alone on Goodreads, you would have to have a separate author page for every pen name that you use. This can be not only time consuming but probably also ridiculous in the long term as well.
Here is another reason, why I am talking about branding under this post as well, is that if you follow or do not follow but Mandi Lynn just re-published two of her books so that for one they got a face lift on the cover designs, but for another her author name on the covers looks the same. She states in one of her videos that is in part due to her brand that she is working on building. I can see her point on this as well.
Coming up with a pen name or even thinking about using a pen name for that matter is a decision that is not made lightly. Granted, I have given this much thought and for one I do not want to have ten or even twenty different pen names, for that could be quite cumber sum to say the least. But I want to use one name, so that my work can be judge based on one persona and not a thousand. This could also make for an author to have multiple identity disorder at which point, how does one sleep at night. I’m not making light of those that are inflicted by this, but we as authors due have to look at this and take it very seriously.
There is one more side to using a pen name, and that is to make a line in the sand between the personal and the business. I can agree with this as well, for one does need to have at times the separation between the two, and if it is the same then everything that you do in the future in your personal life is reflected on your business good or bad. Do you want it to have an impact in your business? On your writing? How your work is judged? We this all the time when it comes to known celebrities.
This is something that does need to have some consideration and all that I can say is that the decision is up to you. Granted when you are self-publishing or traditionally published depending on how big you are then you can make the decisions that are right for you and your business.
One my side, I am considering it just because I don’t want to have too many pen names, or having to making unnecessary social media pages to stay in contact with my readers. I also don’t want to have several signatures also when it comes to signing books. Yes, I may be sounding lazy but really who has time to do all of the lists above. Let’s here it: No one. I know that I do not. I’m currently working on deciding on which one that I want to use.
I hope that this post has given you some thoughts on the use of pen names. I hope that you have a great writing day! Happy creating until next time!