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Real Name or Pen Name

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Vanya, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. George R. R. Martin is George Raymond Richard Martin. He was born in 1948, several years before LotR came out, so I suppose his parents could have been big fans of The Hobbit... or it could just be a coincidence.

    My kids have two middle names each (their middle initials are W. D. and I. L. respectively). If we'd been big fans of names starting with R, we might have gone the R. R. route for one of them.
  2. gerald.parson

    gerald.parson Troubadour

    well, im gonna use Pen Name as my pen name. So :p
  3. Cinder

    Cinder Scribe

    As am I. My real name sucks, so why not give myself a better one?
  4. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    You might want to use an initial so people can tell the two of you apart, Cinder. How about A. Pen Name?
  5. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    Or Penn Nayme. XD
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Norm D. Ploom.

    Heck, if someone can write a book with an MC called "Hiro Protagonist" I think anything can work :)
  7. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    I asked my family for help. We ladies agreed on one, but my dad wants me to be Frankie Frank or to have the last name Jones. He's also very big on three names because of his theory about people remembering them more easily and something about serial killers being known by three names. (Yeah, he lost me there, too.) Apparently, I'll be very successful if I call myself Frankie Frank Jones.

    On the plus side, I now know who not to ask for writing advice.
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    A pen name would only make sense if you expected to produce very popular works yet wanted to maintain your privacy.
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Not really. There are plenty of good reasons. Suppose, for example, you are involved in a profession where you wouldn't want the works of fiction to remain separate from your professional work. That's an easy scenario for me, because it is exactly the situation I am in. Law firms are notoriously conservative places, and in addition to fantasy and children's stories, I also write horror and dark fiction. Whether I am ever very popular or not, my pseudonym can come up in a Google Search (and in fact it does). The firm would not look too kindly on a client doing a Google Search for me (which client's do quite a lot) and having a bunch of horror stories and the like intermingled with the search results relating to the first or legal publications.

    Likewise, suppose you were a teacher and you wrote something like erotica or racy romances, or, again, dark fiction. You wouldn't have to be popular for your name to pop up for any parent running a search on their kid's teacher, and there are parents who would definitely be put off by seeing such things (and I suspect there are those who would complain to the school).

    Finally, and another factor in my own consideration, if you produce vastly different works you may want, for branding purposes, to establish two different personas. For example, my children's book is published under one name. My adult/dark fiction will be published under another. This is a good branding strategy, privacy aside.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    Ankari likes this.
  10. MichaelSullivan

    MichaelSullivan Maester

    Many traditional authors need to use pen names to avoid issues with non-compete clauses. Many contracts limit the timing of books released by the same author, so pen names are used for prolific writers who want to have seveal books released simultaneiously.

    I even know of one author who was forced to change to a pen name because his books didn't sell well enough. The publisher liked his new books, but was afraid his name was toxic so they made him come up with a pen name.
  11. R.S.Robertson

    R.S.Robertson Scribe

    I use my first two initials and (married) last name for pretty much everything (my artwork, web design, writing) except as my "legal" signature. My married last name is incredibly common and generally neither mispronounced or misunderstood, so altogether my "pseudonym" would probably fit just about any genre as well as being gender neutral. I don't really use it as a disguise, I just really don't like writing out and I've never actually gone by Rebecca. All in all R.S. Robertson sounds both more mature and serious.

    For a long time I thought about using my first two initials and maiden name as it is as uncommon as my married name is common. In fact, there is only one family in the United States with that name. The problem is that Wight,my maiden name, despite being spelled and pronounce just like right, tight, light, fight and sight, is ALWAYS mispronounce as Wig-hit for some reason, so it's completely useless as a pen name. Don't get me wrong, I really like my maiden name, I just hated having to constantly explain it to people. I once had a teacher call me a flat-out liar when I told him how it was pronounce... English teachers shouldn't require such intense pronunciation lessons from a 12 year old!
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  12. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

    I think fantasy readers would be more likely to pronounce it correctly than other groups, though. ;)
    T.Allen.Smith likes this.
  13. Havoc

    Havoc Acolyte

    I've always used a pen name, which happens to be a cleverly made acronym of my real name, plus sounds kind of cool in fantasy writing.
  14. Lawfire

    Lawfire Sage

    If one writes in more than one genre, it seems the use of different pen names for each would help to keep things separate.
  15. Flemming Hansen

    Flemming Hansen Minstrel

    Once my first novel is complete, I'll go with F.K. Hansen because most people would miss-spell my first name; due to Ian Fleming (James Bond). Also, my middle name is 'Knøss', which is not an international name, so it would be best to avoid that as well. :)
  16. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

    I find pen names and user names bl**dy confusing. The world would be a much simpler place if everyone had one name- the name they were born with and stuck with it. That's what I do unless the computer says 'that names is in use.' Then I go with Lorny81- my nickname and my birthday. Then everybody knows who I am, including me, and nobody wastes time getting confused.

    If I ever get my novel published the last thing I will change is my name.
  17. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Could raise some privacy issues. Talented hackers can already steal your identity. The last thing you want to do is make it easier for them.
  18. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Or in the case of an incredibly common name sometimes a name with a bit o' flavor can help.
  19. Kim

    Kim Scribe

    I am more and more sure I would use my real name (Kim ten Tusscher). I have used it on the Dutch versions of my books, despite the opninion in the Dutch writers-world that you should use an English name that sounds as if a man has written the book.

    I think, several years ago, the Dutch public did think foreign authors write better books than Dutch writers. Many of them did also think men write better stories than women. :rolleyes: But I think that it has changed. More Dutch authors are being published (but often with an English pseudonym) and there are more women (over the whole world) known for their good books.

    I am also wondering how many people choose the books they read on the name of the author. I select on title, cover, than I might see the name of the author, but more likely I will read whats on the back of the book.

    But I was/am doubting if I should take a pseudonym for the English versions. Thats why I started a poll on facebook. I didn't have many response yet, but most people suggest using my real name. It's the writers who suggest I should use a pseudonym and the readers who vote for my real name.
  20. SlimShady

    SlimShady Troubadour

    I'd use my real name and I don't think I'd ever use a pseudonym. Putting pseudonyms just makes it like the writer is hiding something and I've nothing to hide. Personally, I'd find it enjoyable that readers know my real name. My name was given to me for a reason and I plan on using it. But, that's just my odd way of viewing things.

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