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Why Use a Pen Name?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Black Dragon, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    In my views of life and the world, legal names are simply something chosen by other people and imposed on us whether we later grow to like it or not.

    Some people are fortunate enough to be given a name that they love, others are indifferent to it and the situation gets complicated for some other people.

    All my life I have struggled with my silly and complicated surnames, and I hate both of them. I was bullied, I was ridiculed thanks to them and definitely I do not want them anywhere near my author life and my completed novels.

    I like Sheila alone because it's similar to my real, spiritual name, but the full legal name is just something that I am forced to use for paperwork and that's all.

    My author name really resonates with me, with my soul and my heart, I chose it and I love it. This is the mark of a real name, a name that makes you feel good and happy and proud.

    So yeah, it's not just about the author side of things.
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

    We use a pen name not so much as a matter of pride (though there is that - we are very proud of our pen name and our parents enjoy it) but as a matter of privacy. My name is so unique that I am the only one with it on the English side of Facebook. We write some pretty controversial material - LGBTQ+, polyamory, sexual assault, etc. - and don't want someone at random to be able to find us with ease. I mean, it's possible, but it takes some effort.
    FifthView and Sheilawisz like this.
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    In a roundabout way, I was talking about this at the weekend with a friend who is a poet and has used a pen name for many years [30+]. It started when they found out there was a clause in their contract that forbids them to publish [under their own name] anything that would be likely to bring the company in to disrepute. They are a named author at the company so I can understand the need to keep things seperate. But how would you define "disrepute"? I don't like all my friend's poetry but I'd never call it disreputable...
  4. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

    Wow! Some people don't get that you aren't what you write. If that was the case I would be a green dragon with purple wings and night vision.
  5. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

    Usually with clauses like this most employers are thinking about erotica as a genre, followed up by things which might considered anti-government or anti-religion - or, for that matter, perhaps for those things, depending on context and the political environment. I remember a time not long ago when writing LGBTQ+ positive material could be grounds for termination.
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  6. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

    Neo-Nazis aren't noted for their intellect. They disliked what I wrote so they accused me of being a paedophile. I got death threats as a result. My lawyer forced Google to shut down the offending website but it means I have to use a pen name for some of my non-fiction writing.
  7. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Minstrel

    For me it's for fun, marketing, and because I'm not completely comfortable with my birth name.

    I've had people verbally attack me because my birth name is the same as a famous murderer (who is older than me, a different nationality, and in prison) but some people can't separate reality from fiction. Also my birth name is very common, and it's impossible to get a domain name with it, and there are already five or six authors with the same name on Amazon—three of them in sci-fi/fantasy genres.

    So choosing a pen name (Ned Marcus) seems the way to go for me, and I feel good about it.
    Sheilawisz likes this.
  8. Bandicoot

    Bandicoot Dreamer

    I use a pen name for my fiction writing, because my day job is writing non-fiction. Makes life so much easier. I also need a different mindset when I write fiction (which is mostly fantasy) so I kind of cease being me and become my doppelganger.
    WynnLandry likes this.
  9. J.W. Golan

    J.W. Golan Dreamer

    I use my own name when publishing - but only use my initials when publishing fiction, whereas I spell out my full name for non-fiction, to try to keep the two genres separate.
  10. ScorpionWoman

    ScorpionWoman Dreamer

    I like this logic, eye level seems like a great place to be. As much as I love searching for books I hate kneeling and crawling on the floor.
  11. ArelEndan

    ArelEndan Scribe

    I write fiction under Maris McKay, mostly because my real name is running a blog, publishing non-fiction, and writing professionally. I wanted to keep the two separate for marketing reasons. Especially because the target audience doesn't overlap much. The blog is about personal growth from a Christian perspective and my fiction is a little too steamy for the Christian market. That said, I do let people know about my pen name. It's not a big secret
  12. Bandicoot

    Bandicoot Dreamer

    I've had a few stories published under a pen name. I opted for a pen name because like some of you I value my privacy. It's great to see that there are many others who use pen names, for whatever reason.
  13. MeanMachine

    MeanMachine Scribe

    I'm considering using a pen name mainly because my legal name is in French, and I write in English, so there's a dissonance there. My last name in particular is not easily pronounceable in English. Plus, it gives me the option to use a more interesting pen-name.

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