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Choosing Your Pen Name

A pen name is a name used by an author in the place of their real name. Some authors write under their real names while others prefer to use a different name. In the second case, such a name will be the author's pen name and it is the name that will appear on the book. A pen name can also be referred to as pseudonym, alias, or nom de plume. Some authors use pen names for marketing purposes while others are just more comfortable writing under a different name. Using a pen name is similar to a musician who prefers to adopt a stage name that is different from their real name.

Whatever your reason for using a pen name, give it a lot of thought before making the final choice. Your pen name becomes your brand as an author.

What to Consider When Choosing a Pen Name

Not Similar to a Famous Person's Name: Do NOT pick a name that is too close to that of a famous person. Some might think that such a name will give you quick attention, and it might, but the negatives will outweigh that attention. Not only will this look like you are trying to profit off someone else's fame but finding your work online will be very hard. Search engines will first show the famous person and chances are that people will give up before finding you.

Right Age for the Audience: Make sure your pen name is the right age for your genre and for your intended audience. If your target audience is about 30, the name should be about the same age or older. Although there is no sure way to place a name in a specific age group, certain names might sound too young or too old. If you are not sure, use an online name generator or database and search for popular names from a year that aligns with your pen name's intended age.

Make It Memorable: Your pen name should be easy to spell and remember. There is no rule against long and complicated pen names but as a new author, you should go for something that people will easily remember. Instead of wasting time trying to remember your name, people might get frustrated and move on to the next author.

Website Domain Should Be Available: Always remember that your pen name is your author brand and think long-term. Since you have a pick at what name to use, go for one whose domain is still available. Even if you do not have immediate plans to turn your pen name into a big brand, it does not hurt to leave the option open.

It Should Fit the Genre/Niche: A name will never stop someone from reading a good book but the right name will go a long way in getting the right attention. If you are not sure, search for authors in the genre and see what kinds of names are common.

Always remember that your pen name is the key to your brand as an author and that it will have a big impact on your book sales. Since you have a chance to pick whatever name you want, take your time and do it right.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Faridah Nassozi