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Choosing a pen name...

Butterfly

Auror
The question is how do you choose a suitable pen name to write under?

Everything I come up with doesn't seem to suit me and my real name doesn't really fit the genre I'm writing in, added to the problem of my surname being the same as a world famous poet. I would rather not use it.

So it has to suit me and fit the genre, possibly be a gender neutral first name.

Any ideas where I can go, such as sites, that will help me generate one?

If you have one, how did you come up with your's?
 
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Why bother? Having the name of a world-famous poet maybe a good thing if it's one of the unusual recognizable names--Longfellow, Wordsworth, Dante--and not one of the lame regulars ones, such as Collins. And how would you want to be called at a con? How would you explain signing for your hotel room under your real name while being recognized by a clerk for your pen name? It's not like someone won't suss if out for the whole internet to know. Seems more trouble than it's worth.
 

T.Allen.Smith

Staff
Moderator
It's been said that a writer's fame is the best kind. Your name can get you a table at exclusive restaurants but your face will let you enjoy that dinner in peace.

I've been considering the use of a pen name as well, but for a different reason. My name is so common. I will likely have three publications released within the next year so I've been mulling this over as well. I'm considering the use of family names for loved ones departed, as a means of honoring them.
 
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A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
There's two of us - one of our names is super common in the United States, and the other is super rare, and therefore often misspelled. We would rather write under one name and one cohesive voice, so we chose "A. E. Lowan" for a couple of different reasons that primarily had to do with marketing back in the days when brick and mortar bookstores were king. Now we simply love the name, it sounds nice and it's easy to remember and spell, so we stick with it.
 
Hi,

I would go with your own name as well. If your name is the same as a world famous poet then that could actually attract some attention from readers and work in your favour. And I don't think there really are too many names that don't work with particular genres.

But you can use your name in different ways. For me I write under the name Greg instead of Gregory, mostly because that's how I've always thought of myself, but also to distinguish myself from another writer with the same name. You could go with initials which are fairly genderless. You could do a mix, say like one well known movie maker who uses his first initial then his midle name and surname.

In my view the only reason to use a pen name is if your writing could somehow negatively impact your life.

Cheers, Greg.
 
C

Chessie

Guest
I am also going with my real name. I see no reason to hide my literary achievements behind a fake name. :D

That said, I understand that some authors choose a pen name for privacy's sake, or maybe because they are publishing in more than one genre. I look at it this way: if the people in my life know that I'm publishing stories and I'm proud of the work I do, why pretend I'm someone else? It can only boost my career as a writer to fully put myself out there. And I also think it holds me to a higher standard of work ethic, if my friends know what I'm up to. :)
 

buyjupiter

Maester
For my SF/horror writing I'll be making up a pen name. I tend to write stuff in both of those genres that'd be a hard sell under "Danielle". :) Unless of course the editor/agent lived in Italy for a very long time. Because that's a spelling of "Daniel" over there.

I have plenty of great-uncles and grandparents to pull names from, however, most of them are incredibly old fashioned as they were born in the 1920s.

I'm leaning towards Tom Cecil, but I do like the sound of Thomas Lyle as well. (Looking up both names, there was a physicist named Thomas Lyle; and I already knew that Tom Cecil was the first lord Burghley, which makes my inner Elizabethan history nerd happy. Maybe I can merge the two last names. Hmmm. Things to think about.)
 

Philip Overby

Staff
Article Team
I'm going with my real name as well (you may notice I'm no longer Phil the Drill!) This is because the closer I get to hopefully publishing something, I rather use my real name instead of someone saying, "Oh, is that Phil from Mythic Scribes? I didn't know he wrote that!" I rather just have my real name that I plan on using to publish with out there in the world. I get that some people use pen names for various reasons, but I figure my name isn't super common, so it can't hurt. (There's apparently a famous doctor that shares my name and there are tons of other people with the same name, but I don't presume they're writers.)
 

BWFoster78

Myth Weaver
I'm planning on publishing under my real name, but I was curious about something: How easy is it to write legally under a pseudonym? Do you need to submit some kind of DBA or can you just start publishing however you like?
 

Gryphos

Auror
This is something I've never really thought about before. For me my full name would be Massimiliano Leo Vitelli, which is way too long. A shortening (the name I actually go by) is Max Leo Vitelli, but that's too clunky. I could get rid of the middle name and just use Max Vitelli, which could work. Then there's the option of initialising. But then do I initialise just the middle name or the middle and first, Max L. Vitelli or M. L. Vitelli. I'm personally leaning toward M. L. Vitelli because it has a ring to it.
 

Foah

Troubadour
I'll be using a pen name for when I start publishing some work. Mostly this is because of personal circumstances, but also because my actual name is difficult to pronounce for non Swedes.
 

CupofJoe

Myth Weaver
I have some [admittedly low key] academic papers to my name [I'm 4th or 5th author]. I would/will use a pen name when it comes to it just to keep the two things separate. I work with someone that uses their "academic" name for their romantic fiction writing and I've heard them described as "the one that writes the Mills and Boon books" or worse "the one that wrote the book about have sex on the beach".

This is something I've never really thought about before. For me my full name would be Massimiliano Leo Vitelli, which is way too long. A shortening (the name I actually go by) is Max Leo Vitelli, but that's too clunky. I could get rid of the middle name and just use Max Vitelli, which could work. Then there's the option of initialising. But then do I initialise just the middle name or the middle and first, Max L. Vitelli or M. L. Vitelli. I'm personally leaning toward M. L. Vitelli because it has a ring to it.
M. Leo Vitelli?
I think a book by Massimiliano Leo Vitelli would be great to see on the spine of a hard backed book! That's a name that wins awards! That name could win the Booker Prize!!!
 

Motley

Minstrel
I write under multiple pen names because I hate my legal name.

My methods included perusing baby name sites and trying to find something that sounds good together. Then I search Google and Amazon to make sure the name isn't in use yet and doesn't belong to a mass murderer or beloved kindergarten teacher somewhere who may not want to be accidentally associated with what I do.
 

BWFoster78

Myth Weaver
I was curious, so I searched for the answer to my question. As far as I can tell, it's perfectly legal to publish a novel under whatever name you want as long as your pseudonym isn't that of a famous person or intended to mislead readers into thinking the piece was written by someone else. You do not, as far as I can tell, have to do a DBA. Simply have Amazon or your publisher issue checks to you via your legal name.

If my understanding based on five minutes of internet searching is incorrect, please correct me :)
 

CupofJoe

Myth Weaver
My methods included perusing baby name sites and trying to find something that sounds good together. Then I search Google and Amazon to make sure the name isn't in use yet and doesn't belong to a mass murderer or beloved kindergarten teacher somewhere who may not want to be accidentally associated with what I do.
When a friend starts a new musical adventure he does extensive internet searches to find any associations with the names/words he wants to use.
 
Hi,

Phil I think you're taking a brave step, but you should be aware that there will be potential consequences for using your own name as your avatar name. The main one is that if you write something in the fora that other members or lurkers strongly dislike or disagree with they can simply look up your name, go to your book pages and write nasty reviews. Over on KB we have had a problem for a while of retaliation through this method.

Gryphos, I'd use your first name and last name, or alternatively initial, middle and last names. Your name is long which can be an issue on a cover, but it's also unusual which can add to your cache with readers. You might also consider using your forenames and leaving off your surname simply because it sounds good. I wouldn't use all three names because it leads to the increased potential for identity theft - i.e. one of the questions people often ask for identification purposes is what's your middle name.

Motley, one name only - whether it's a pen name or your own one. I cannot emphasise that strongly enough. You want readers to want to be able to find your books don't you? And if different books are under different names how are they going to know that you've written another book? Also when you market your books, you're also marketing yourself as an author. Stephen King will sell books purely by name. The more names you have the more marketing you have to do. Here's a blog I just wrote on the issue to flesh this out a little bit more: Greg's Books

Cheers, Greg.
 

Philip Overby

Staff
Article Team
Phil I think you're taking a brave step, but you should be aware that there will be potential consequences for using your own name as your avatar name. The main one is that if you write something in the fora that other members or lurkers strongly dislike or disagree with they can simply look up your name, go to your book pages and write nasty reviews. Over on KB we have had a problem for a while of retaliation through this method.

I understand that, but I figure there are others here that are using their names they plan to publish with, and there are some like Michael Sullivan and Kevin O. McLaughlin use their names here.

The same could very well go on my Twitter, Google+, or Facebook accounts. My blog as well. Someone may not like something I say and give me a bad review because of it. I can't control that. I figure I've had my real name in my sig for a while now, so I may as well use my real name on the forum. It's the name I'm publishing with after all so it's going to be out there in the world one way or another (my publishing credits so far use my name.)
 

Jackarandajam

Troubadour
An interesting exercise- go to B&N or BAM and look at where you would rest, with your real last name, on the shelf. J.C. Swanson, an abbreviation of my real name, would actually put me right before Tolkien on the shelf. As many questions as i may have about a name like "Swanson" taken seriously in my genre, there would i be, and that's pretty cool.

Another thing to consider; What if, in the future, other budding authors are trying to come up with pen names that somehow give airs relating indirectly to YOUR name, because YOU used your real one and redefined or revolutionized your genre?

(This concept assuming that, for instance, when the pinnacle of a horror writer for you is stephen king, what you're really doing when you search for a horror pen name is (innocently) trying to exude SOME part of that names grammatical structure, or simplistic non assuming feel, or sense by which it speaks to you.)
 
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