The Fine Art of Choosing A Pen Name

I’m using a pen name, a nom de plume, a pseudonym for publishing purposes.

Jillian Kent is a name I created after Rachelle asked, “Have you ever considered using a pen name?” With a smile on my face, I said, “You mean you don’t think Jill Nutter will sell as many books as Jillian Kent?” I had to smile because I’ve worked in the mental health field for years and you can’t imagine what adolescents on an in-patient psychiatric unit can do with a name like Nutter. Rachelle was very professional in providing guidance. I refer you to her blog post: Should I Use a Nom de Plume?

The following issues are ones I took into consideration:

Post Author: Jillian Kent

Jillian Kent is more than enthusiastic about the release of her first novel, Secrets of the Heart, The Ravensmoore Chronicles, Book One. She’s a full-time counselor for nursing students and holds a masters degree in social work. She’s fascinated with human behavior and thought it would be interesting to explore what might have happened in a lunatic asylum during England’s Regency era, her favorite time period. Jillian hopes you will escape into the past with her and find faith for the future.

The Work Place

I’m a Licensed Independent Social Worker employed as a counselor for nursing students within a huge hospital setting. I didn’t know if my supervisor or the president of the college would take issue with my second career. As it turned out, they fully support my efforts and allow me to talk about my writing within the college. I give books away at special events and to help raise money on occasion for things like our Student Emergency Fund. Choosing a pen name was also my safety net in case my work as an author wasn’t embraced or in the event I change jobs in the future.

Name Sensitivity and Setting

I married a great guy with the last name of Nutter. I write historical novels set during England’s Regency era. In England, the term nutter is slang for insane. Go to and type in the word nutter and you’ll see what I mean.  I write a darker Regency romance that includes the exploration of insane asylums and mental health issues. I didn’t want to take the risk that this might all be a bit too much for my readers.  I actually chose the name Jillian Kent for several reasons: 1) Kent is an actual city in England and frequently used as a setting in British novels, 2) Kent is short and easy to fit on the front of a novel and easy to remember, 3) Jillian is similar to Jill, my first name. So when readers call me Jillian it feels very natural.

Availability and Shelf Location 

I had to make sure the domain name was available for my website, that other authors weren’t using the same name, and that it would be placed on the bookshelves in a strategic position. Kent is in the middle of the alphabet. I’m near Karen Kingsbury on the book shelves so if someone picks up her book they just might see my book and be tempted to look at this new author named Kent.

Keep it Simple

I wanted a name that was easy to pronounce. Some folks pronounce Nutter as neuter. My maiden name was Baroudi (Ba-roo-dy). So now you can see even more clearly why Kent works for me.  I love my family and my family names and heritage, but when it comes to publishing, authors with sensitive issues must consider all the pros and cons of the nom de plume.

Have fun

If you discover you should use a pseudonym make sure you put a lot of thought into it. You might have it for a very long time and you want your name to be memorable if you are going to all the trouble of inventing a new one. As a child I was always making up new names because my maiden name was so unique. It’s kind of like starting over and beginning a whole new life.

Have you ever considered using a pen name? What are the reasons you might think about inventing a new name for publishing purposes? Are you using a pen name now?


74 Replies to “The Fine Art of Choosing A Pen Name”

  1. How delightful! I had no idea that Jillian Kent wasn’t your real name. I feel like the Geico commercial where the cave men have been living under rocks. Great post – thanks!!

  2. Ms. Kent,

    You and I are kindred spirits here. I chose a pen name for a lot of the reasons you mention. I work as a nurse and did want to distance myself from my employer in case they had “issues” with anything I might write.

    When Greg and I talked about picking a name, he asked, “What are some of your grandmother’s maiden names?” Let’s just say “sinner” may not bode so well for Christian fiction.

    Redwood places me near Rubart, Rivers, Rosenberg and Raney— which puts me in good company. Though, I must say I didn’t look at this very much. This was a blessed side note.

    Great tips!!

    1. Jordyn,
      We are kindred spirits. “Sinner” and Christian fiction. Now that’s interesting! 🙂 I think you know how much I love your website and what you are doing there. And you are in good company on the bookshelf. I’m not sure why I thought about that when I was choosing a name, probably something I heard along the way.

  3. Jillian – your nom de plume works beautifully for the market and has a pleasing grace. Can I just be picky here? Kent isn’t a city. It’s a county – probably the equivalent to American states (and here you could probably correct me). But lovely post.

    1. Hey Roz,
      You are absolutely correct. Don’t know how I missed that, but that’s important. There are cities within the county of Kent. I went to your website which is very interesting: “Secretly prolific ghost writer,” now that’s fascinating. Thanks for stopping by, glad you liked the post.

  4. Jillian I’ve thought about choosing a pen name and had really decided to use my own. Now I’m rethinking that. I’m an LCSW at a hospice in Florida, and while I am writing fiction, I also want to write about hospice. Since I work for a large nationwide company I’ve worried about having to have everything I write run through the corporate “sensor”. I don’t want that, so maybe I do need to rethink the whole pen name thing. Also my name is very simple – Sherri Stone – but I also share it with several others right here in my little area of north Florida. And…I also get called Sharon Stone – a lot. There is no comparison! You hear me? None! 🙂 Anyway, I’ll be saving this post, because I think that it may have saved me from making a big mistake. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Sherri,
      I love your name. BUT, I think you’re right because you don’t want to get involved with the corporate “sensor,” especially if you’re going to include stories about hospice in your fiction writing. And I hear you about the Sharon Stone comparison. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and sharing your situation. Blessings as you pursue your writing career.

  5. I always wonder about this process – and if I ever decide to go indie with a different genre than what I write now, I’ll need a pen name. You can bet I’ll revisit this post if ever that day comes!

    1. Hi Katie,
      I’ve wondered about the different genre writing and name changing quite a bit because if I choose to write romantic comedy and/or non-fiction in the future I would probably change my name. Or would I? That’s were it helps to have an agent.Thank God for Rachelle. When you think of all the work that goes into building name recognition and then to start over with a new name and new genre (like James Scott Bell and K. Bennett) that feels pretty daunting to me. You can read about what Jim did at:

      1. Thanks for posting this Jillian. I’m a huge JSB fan and hadn’t even heard about this! I needed something zombie-ish for by blog in October and this will work perfectly.

        Plus, I had no idea he was going for a pen-name. That post was so interesting.

  6. I love the process you went through in coming up with a great name, Jillian. I decided several years ago to begin using my maiden name for all purposes writing and social media-related. My stories tend to include lots of characters with Irish ancestry, so McKenna works for me. Also, there is a sense in which I hope to protect my husband’s privacy, particularly online. By the way, his name is Doug Raymond. 🙂

    1. Hi Katy,
      I love both your names, McKenna and Raymond. Your maiden name is IT though if you are using anything Irish. And as you said, it’s also a way to protect your hubby’s privacy. You are so blessed to have such a great maiden name. I love the idea of being able to use a family name but even other family names didn’t work for me, like Johnson. Just too common in my opinion like Smith and Jones. I wonder if that’s a good reason to use a pen name?

      1. I do think an overly common last name might be a reason to use a pen name, unless the author’s first name way more than makes up for the last in uniqueness. If I ever have a reason to diversify from McKenna, I have several other family surnames I would consider, including Baillie and Cassidy. I find names–both of novel characters and authors–to be a fascinating subject.

  7. Now that is fascinating! I loved your name Nutter because I could remember it – it never occured to me to think “nutty.” But, I do think Jillian Kent really fits your brand. Thanks for writing this.

    1. Hi there Lucille,
      I don’t know if you’re familiar with the name, David Nutter, but he’s been involved with directing (“The Mentalist,” “Without a Trace” “The X-Files”) and more. I don’t know him personally but he obviously didn’t feel the need to change his name. I wonder if he would directi a movie of my novels even though I changed my name. 🙂

  8. I went with a pen name because when I googled my name, a writer popped up, and she’s a scientific writer. She does amazing work. I decided I didn’t want my work to be confused with her work (for both our sakes) and hence- my pen name was born. I thought about creating something completely different, but when it came down to it, I still wanted people to be able to connect the dots back to me. So, I’ve opted for initials plus last name. And so far, it’s working pretty well.

    But that aside, I love the story behind names- both real and ‘de plume’. So I enjoyed reading how you chose yours.

    1. Hi D.L.
      You’ve hit upon a point I forgot to mention. Google the name you might want to use as a pen name. I mentioned looking for domain names which we have to keep in mind as well, but it’s important to see who comes up under the name you want to write under. Like you, I also love the stories behind the names.

  9. Jillian Kent is a beautiful name. It flows with grace. Now I’m wondering now if my name will fit on the front of a book cover. I added my maiden name because there were so many Sandra Kings. Of course, King puts me ahead of Karen and right after you on the shelf. If it ever comes to that. 🙂

    Fun and helpful post.

    1. Thanks for the compliment Sandra. You could always be S. H. King or Sandra H. King. Just keep a running list of names and why you might want to use them as you write your stories. Then when the time comes you and your agent can put your heads together and figure out what works best for you. Keep writing! Great shelf space idea too. 🙂

  10. Jillian, thanks for the mention and the good thoughts. I my case it was purely for “brand” differentiation. But I’m also liking the idea that I can play a little with K. Bennett, do some shorter works as e-books in the new genre (zombie legal thriller). It’s freeing in a way.

    1. Hi Jim!
      Thanks for stopping by! I love what you said about “It’s freeing in a way.” It is! For me it was like beginning a new life, a tabula rasa (blank slate) of sorts.That’s fun. I loved the quote you used from Rick Anderson in Part I of your book: “Perhaps there is no life after death . . . there’s just Los Angeles.” So perfect for you and your novel, Pay Me In Flesh. I’m about 1/3 into the book on my kindle and I still remember your lines, “Practicing law in L.A. is hard. Especially if your dead.” Ha, Ha.

      For those of you reading this, Jim has made a really huge leap into another genre. I encourage you to check his new novel out even if you’re not a zombie fan. 🙂 He’s got a special way of grabbing you and sucking you in. Go Jim!

      1. This is all fascinating, but I’m missing one crucial perspective from both the commenters (loving their stories) and the author: If you use a different name, people in your life, including coworkers and bosses, are still going to know it’s you. Your photo is out there and word will spread in your community about your commendable second career, right? Other than having a “better” name for selling books, how are there other benefits to having a pen name? All the marketing to your friends, network, family etc. is going to be coming from the you that they know, so the fake name will be confusing and you won’t be shielded anyway.

        I ask this because I am DYING to use a pen name for my book coming out soon, for a few of the honest reasons people have mentioned here – i don’t like tooting my own horn, so my alter ego can do that for me; i don’t like being rejected, so my pen name can work on making all the social media connections; I don’t want my bosses seeing my blog, website, writings etc. and having to worry about how that reflects on them; and i can have just the tiniest bit more bold persona.

        I would love to hear any and all thoughts on this. On another note, my day job is reporter/writer for a major media outlet where millions of readers read my work and see my byline every week, but my work is not related to my ficiton writing at all. many thanks!

  11. This is something I’m personally considering because my name – Lucy Brown – is very common (insert joke here) and I don’t fancy having to clear yet another hurdle in getting people to buy my hypothetical books.

    As Sandra said, you picked a name that flows exceptionally well and feels natural. I need to find me one of those!

    1. Hi Lucy!
      Personally, I love the name Lucy, but I see your dilemma. Play with it and see what you can come up with. Maybe keep your first name. Find the name that flows well for you and may also emphasize what you write. Best of luck, Lucy.

  12. Hi Jill- I love your pen name… and I think it’s so cool that you have a different “author identity”. I had no idea that “nutter” was slang in England at that time… and I’ve read your books and you definitely don’t want to have that reference! I LOVED your book, BTW.

    1. Hi Erin!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed Secrets of the Heart. Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m published. It’s been a long road. Believe it or not I think “nutter” still has that meaning in England. I’m including a link here but it’s got lots of rude words connected to it so check it out if you want but you’ve been warned. I only just found this. Might come in handy.

      Here’s what it says about “nutter”
      n someone with a screw loose. This applies to both the “insane” or “reckless” definitions, so a gentleman who scaled the Eiger naked and a chap who ate both of his parents could both validly be “nutters,” albeit in slightly different ways.

  13. My name is Clarice. People used to identify me with Rudolph the Reindeer’s grilfriend. Now I get the Silence of the Lambs movie quote, “Is this Clarice. Well, hello, Clarice . . ” in Anthony Hopkins’ creepy Hannibal Lecter voice. I wish it would stop; it gives me nightmares.

    1. Hi Clarice!
      I love your name too but unfortunatley Silence of the Lambs did make that name popular. You might use it to your advantage or maybe not. I’m not sure. I really think your name is a great author name. Don’t let others intimidate you. Think about it and go with what you think might be best. Have you googled your name?

  14. I didn’t know that wasn’t your real name either! I love Kent for the reasons you said. I used to work in mental health and I have to agree that Nutter wouldn’t be perfect.
    As to my name and choice, I have had too many people tell me they think my name sounds like a writer’s so good thing I married my husband:)

    1. Hi Anon,
      You’re blessed to already have a great writer name. Use it and have fun! Working in mental health gives you a different perspective doesn’t it? 🙂

  15. I’ve totally considered using a pen name! With the last name of Sundsmo it’s not necessarily endearing anyone to remember how to pronounce it let alone spell it. I’d be leaning toward my maiden name of “Wright”. Jaime Wright. 🙂

  16. I love your pen name. I chose a pen name that has a bit of a historical/fantasy feel to it, whilst meaning something to me. Georgina was the township where I grew up, and Lee is my maiden name. So Georgina Lee was born. But I realized too late that there is a swimmer with that name, and a writer by the name of Georgie Lee. But with my maiden name, Barbara Lee, I was faced with a similar situation. I think a lot of good names are taken in that regard.

    1. Hi Barbara!
      It gets difficult to manage these names doesn’t it? Now if the other writer is writing in a different genre than you it may not be any issue at all. And the swimmer isn’t a problem I don’t think. Our name choices are never going to be perfect. I love the name Barbara Phinney too. My problem would be someone calling me by another name other than Jill or Jillian. I don’t think I’d know who they were talking to if I was at a booksigning, etc.I can envision LEE on the front of a book cover though in big letters. 🙂 I think it’s important too if the name has a special meaning to you as you described.

  17. When I posted my novelette Kingdumb Meiser as a blog, I did so under Meiser Lee to avoid potential issues with the fact I was still working at the place that inspired the story. After some time had passed, I put it back into my name. I’m fortunate that so far I’ve only seen a couple people with my name with an online presence, and it’s unlikely we’ll be confused for each other. Once I legally change my last name to my husband’s I’ll likely continue using my maiden name for publications.

    1. Hi Amanda!
      Meiser Lee. That’s different! Yes, you’ve got to be careful about where you are working and what you are writing. Love the name Amanda too.

  18. I have a friend who writes for Harlequin where apparently pen names are a regular requirement and she had a lot of the same reasons that you do. Great post!

    1. Hi Martha!
      Are the pen names at Harlequin a “requirement” or a choice? I hadn’t thought about that outside of the issues that I dealt with. Do you think it’st true across the board at Harlequin?

  19. My name is Melissa Lovin, and I write romance as well as women’s fiction. I’ve been considering using a pseudonym, mainly because I get the “uuhhh. . . that’s not a very creative pen name” response to my actual name. It does sound a little contrived.

    1. Hi Melissa!
      Now isn’t that unfair? But I can see where readers might interpret your name as being a pen name. Because you think it sounds contrived might be a reason to use a pen name, but you have to weigh that against what you’ve already written if your published and how it effects your brand. If you’re not yet published then you could easily make that leap before your first book comes out.

  20. I really like your pen name, Jill. I think it fits your genre quite well.

    I’m using my real name. It’s hard to spell, I know, but it’s memorable because of that. It’s also unique. I’m the only Keli Gwyn in cyberspace!

    1. Hi Keli!
      Thank you! I’m really happy with my new name. I think the uniqueness of your name works. And if you’re the only one in cyberspace with that name then you’re very fortunate. I like that there are 4 letters in your first and last name. It just works.:)

  21. I’m using a pen name right now. Green is not my real surname and it’s no secret. Like you, I plan to go into the mental health field. Currently, I’m pursuing a Masters in Clinical Psychology, and I might one day go on to a Psy.D.

    Here’s the thing. The professional author personality I want to set up is very different from the professional counselor personality. The side of me that writes fiction is silly and escapist and goofy. I don’t want prospective or current clients (I’m not at the point to have either, but someday) to be able to look me up on my blog and get all my opinions on Hello Kitty or dragons or politics of the comic book industry. Yet I still want to have a blog on all these things.

    Hence a pen name!

    1. Hi Annalise,
      Yep. If you’re going to work in the mental health field it’s probably a good idea. You’ve got two different sides of your nature out there and want to protect both for different reasons. Also, I think it’s a good idea to go on and get your Psy. D. I know many who have and are doing very well. Besides that, you’ll need your silly goofy side to bloom to cope with the seriousness of your counseling side. That’s the best balance I’ve found yet for my life.

  22. If I ever decide to write fiction, I plan to use a pen name, as my real name is a bit long and often confusng. Your pen name is perfect.

  23. Jillian Kent rolls right off the tongue, and it’s easy to remember. You gave terrific reasons for using a pen name. I’m using my real name. I feel it has a nice ring to it. 🙂

    Great post, Jill.

  24. One area of controversy regarding pen names. When I was discussing the use of my using a pen name, another Chirstian writer said some Christian publishers don’t like their authors having pen names because they feel it is deceptive? My publisher hasn’t said anything. Anyone ever truly come across this?

    1. Jordyn,
      I’ve never heard that before but I wondered if some publishers and readers too may feel cheated. Hope not. I would think that Christian publishers understand the need for a pen name, especially if it’s important to the author for many of the reasons already stated here.

  25. What a great post. If I weren’t married, I definitely would have gone with a penname (my maiden name is Weiner – long e! – just for your info, I taught middle school with that name!). But I like my name, and I’ve only found one person with any significant traffic with the same name, and she uses her middle initial (which, coincidentally is also MY middle initial), so no reason that way.

    1. Hi Joanne!
      So glad you like the post. Middle school kids can be so abusive to both teachers and other kids. I hear you loud and clear about your maiden name.:) I like your name too and it would be a great author name.

  26. My last name is McManamey. My husband and I are photographers, and I don’t use our name in our business. Who can pronounce it right the first time??

    And when I write, some of the things that come out of my head surprise even me, so I’m not real comfortable with people who know me well knowing it’s from my head.
    You betcha if I ever get anything out there in public, it’s going to be under a pen name!!

    1. Hi M!
      I feel the earth move under my feet. Hey, I’m in Cincinnati, Ohio and the students and faculty on the 9th and 10th floors of our building felt the earthquake out of Va. Spooky and creepy as my kids used to say. 🙂 Let’s pray everyone is okay.
      M, you said, “And when I write, some of the things that come out of my head surprise even me.” Oh the life of a writer. Thank God others can’t read our minds. Start looking for that pen name.

      Anyway, back to pen names. I can see why you’d want to use one. Your name is long and kind of hard to pronounce at first but I got the hang of it. (I think!) 🙂

  27. Four and a half years ago I chose to write with a pen name. There is nothing memorable about Rachel Smith. There are several thousand Rachel Smiths, including Miss USA 2007. Just about every URL combo containing Rachel Smith is taken. I chose Rachel Wilder. Wilder is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name, and yes I’m related to Laura via Almanzo.

    I write historical fiction, and whenever anyone hears Wilder they think of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Gene Wilder. Gene’s a writer too, Young Frankenstein is his masterpiece. I consider both of those to be very good company. And if I’m going to be at the end of the alphabet, bookended between Lori Wick and Erica Vetsch is a pretty good place to be.

    Then I got married and now I’m about to not be married anymore. Some days it feels like Rachel Wilder is the only consistent identity I have!

    1. Hi Rachel,
      How fun that you are related to Laura and Almanzo! Yes, keep that name Wilder. You will not only be in the good company of Wick and Vetsch but of West, Witemeyer, and Zimmerman too! 🙂
      On the serious side I’m very sorry that you are “about to not be married anymore.” Perhaps a name can even be healing in some situations. Take care of yourself and use your writing to help you get through the difficult days, Rachel Wilder.

  28. Wonderful post, Jillian Kent! I love your pen name. It just sounds so Regency. 🙂

    I’m using my real name. Though Vetsch is commonly mis-pronounced, it is unique. (I tell folks the easy way to remember is: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a Vetsch like me.)

    Rachel, I too am sorry about the ‘about to not be married anymore’ but I look forward to the day when our books are side-by-side at the bookstore! 🙂

    1. Erica,
      What a wonderful way to understand how to pronounce your name! And I’m so glad you think my name sounds so Regency; that’s so good. 🙂 The one disappointment I have about using a pen name is that I’ll never see my real name on the cover of my books. But you know, I’m getting over that now that I’m feeing more comfortable in my Jillian Kent skin.:)

  29. I couldn’t wait to read your post. I never planned on using a pen name–and I don’t for my fiction & most of my nonfiction. However, when I wrote an article for Discipleship Journal, they recommended I use a pen name. The topic was a sensitive one and involved a family member–not going into that now. Anyway, the editor suggested using a pen name more to protect the family member than to protect me.
    Well, I made one mistake. Because I devised a very meticulous-yet-randon way to choose my pen name, it never occurred to me to google the name to make sure there wasn’t a real person with that name.
    There was–and she was a Christian writer, with many similarities to me. Friends were calling her to talk to her about her article–even though the article clearly stated the author used a pseudonym.
    One good thing: I finally managed to track her down after several years of looking for her. (She didn’t have a website or any contact info that I could find.) We talked & I assured her that the name was totally random–no malicious intent involved. (Some people suggested that was the case.) She was very gracious.
    So: I recommend always googling the name you might use to make sure someone else isn’t using it for real!

    1. I have to ask how you devised the way to choose your pen name for your article, Beth? I’m intrigued. 🙂 Can you share? No pressure, just curious. What’s the chances that you’d get a name that another Christian author was using? What a bummer. But at least she had no hard feelings. And you’re right, always google that name you want to use.

      1. I know some writers use their middle name and the name of the street they grew up on. Well, Beth happens to be my middle name and “Beth Beacon” sounded like a cartoon character to me.
        So …. I asked my twin sister if I could use her first name and then I used my great-grandmother’s maiden name. I mean, come on! Can you get more meticulous-yet-random?

  30. This is my pen name. My real name is shared by a professor who is a published author. The 1st name I made up years ago while doodling after my grandfather told me about his Welsh ancestors (they love their Y’s). When I decided to use it as my online identity I needed a last name. Happened to be watching a movie starring actor Robert Vaughan and here I am. Definitely unique. If you Google Gabryyl you find me (or a couple mentions of a Role Playing game character someone created – guess he liked my name).

    1. Ohh. I love Gabryyl. Does the different spelling give you problems, Gabryyl? I’m guessing you were watching the Man from Uncle Robert Vaughn. 🙂 I remember him. Love your name. Very unique.

  31. This is such an interesting discussion. I always think of pen names for fiction writers and not for non-fiction writers. Yet you make some good points that coud likewise apply to non-fiction. What do you think?

    I’ll have to admit, I recently learned of a non-fiction writer who has a pen name and I thought his platform was a little odd — like I really didn’t “know” him since his blog is under a pen name.

    1. Hi Susan,
      I think a pen name for a non-fiction author would almost have to be for writers who are discussing very sensitive subjects. I’ll put myself out there. I have a daughter with a disability. I’d love to write about our experiences yet I don’t want to hurt her or our family by doing so. And yet, I think we could help other families. Do I do this some day under a pen name? Would it be too difficult? Do I put out an e-book under a pen name. Can people eventually find out who we are and it comes back to hurt my child?
      I don’t know what the platform oddity was of the man you mention so can’t comment on that. But yes, non-fiction folks may benefit from a pen name now and then in my opinion.

  32. With a name like Sherrinda Ketchersid, I’ve definitely thought about a pen name! I like your reasons and it makes sense. You’ve confirmed some of my own thoughts about it. Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome, Sherrinda. You’ve got an awesome first name and a unique last name that may not work great for publication because it’s long and maybe hard to pronounce, but discuss that with your agent before you make any final judgements.

  33. I write academic stuff under my real name, so I chose a pen name for the non-academic writing. It’s more not to confuse my two audiences than anything else. This is my real name, but my pen name is a variant, so it doesn’t feel too weird to me!

    1. Hi Nancy!
      I think you were wise to choose a variant of your real name so it doesn’t feel weird. We have to live with those names we choose for a long time hopefully, and I know I want to feel as comfortable as I can with my pen name. And not confusing our audiences is a must.


  34. One more thought I didn’t mention earlier is that I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to sign my pen name. Not so much that it was difficult to write but it still takes deliberate thought for me to make the letters scrawl across the page. When we write our given names or long time married names it comes easy. So you might want to practice writing the pen name you choose to use. I’ve never had beautiful handwriting as some writers do. Writing a K is actually not pretty for me.:) So I print a big K and write the ent. 🙂

    I’ve really enjoyed being with all of you today and sharing thoughts about the use of pen names. I wish you well with whatever you decide to do. No matter what nom de plume we choose we must write the best book book we’re capable of writing to make our work as memorable as the names we write under.

  35. This was a great post. I’m about to start sending out queries, and was seriously considering a pen name. I’ve written for magazines and ran a statewide business journal under my married name, and it was ALWAYS a problem with pronunciation and spelling. I’m most often referred to as Mrs. Sagoooeey, which sounds like a bad dessert. I came up with a catchy pen name, so now I guess I just need the publishing contract to go with it. Thanks for helping me make up my mind.

    1. Hi Nancy!
      I don’t know, I think Sagoooeey sounds like a pretty good dessert. 🙂 Certainly as good as Nutter-Butter Peanut Butter Cookies. Wish I owned that company. 🙂 Glad I could help. Let us know when you get the publishing contract. We’d love to hear from you.

  36. Hi just saw this post that I missed the other day from Sara
    on August 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm. Please go up to that section to see her full comment.

    Sara asked: Other than having a “better” name for selling books, how are there other benefits to having a pen name? All the marketing to your friends, network, family etc. is going to be coming from the you that they know, so the fake name will be confusing and you won’t be shielded anyway.

    Sara, I think you have to know ahead of time why you are using a pen name. How anonymous do you want to be? If you want to be VERY anonymous you may not want to use a picture. If you’re okay witht that it might work. It sounds like you don’t want your employer to know what you want to do and you have a huge following. There are pros and cons. If you didn’t hide the fact that you were writing fiction you’d have a huge platform you could pull in. But if it’s of the utmost importance to separate the two you’s then you may want to tell very few people and swear them all to secrecy. I have no idea if that would work completely. You might want to ask an agent what to do.

    I know that Eloisa James kept her identity secret for awhile. You can read about her double life on her website. I hope this helps a little bit Sara. I don’t think there are any really simple answers when you are trying to stay completely anonymous from your employer, but I think that gives you something to consider.

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