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 dictionary.com 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?