What do J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain, Amanda Quick, J.D. Robb, George Eliot, and Dr. Seuss all have in common?
They are all pen names.
In our fame hungry world, why are so many authors not using their real names? Isn't the dream to see our name scrawled across that book cover?
Well, maybe, but there are a lot of good reasons for going with a pen name instead of what's typed on your birth certificate. Here are a few:
1. Your parents were cruel and your name is just awful. Who wants to buy a book by Harry Butts?2. Spelling or pronouncing your name requires a lesson.3. You want to write in a genre whose readers are unconsciously gender-biased. (i.e. guy writing romance, woman writing political thriller).4. You're already published in one genre (lucky you) and you want to write something completely different.5. Your given name is Steve King or Lora Roberts and its just too close to another authors.6. Your write naughtiness and you don't want your mother or neighbors to know.7. You can't pass up such a creative opportunity as coming up with a whole new name.8. You're convinced your book is going to inspire stalkers.9. Your name is common and boring.10. You're afraid your book is so freaking awesome that it will surely rocket you into uber fame and you just can't bear to lose your reclusive life.
I've thought a lot about this. I am not immune to ego, so I can't say that seeing my own given name on a book doesn't hold a lot of appeal. With my YA, I never even considered the idea of a pen name. However, now that I've written a romance, I'm starting to think more about it. My story has a high degree of sensuality, not erotica, but pretty naughty.
So, although I'm not embarrassed by this, I do wonder if it could effect my life in some adverse way if I'm fortunate enough to get published. For instance, I have a teaching certificate. If I get hired to teach high school, I definitely don't want my students (or their parents) seeing their teacher's name on a sexy romance novel. Hello, awkward.
Also, if I decide to write both YA and romance, I wouldn't want the YA readers jumping over to the adult romances. So when I start submitting to romance publishers, I will probably include a pen name.
I haven't decided on what that might be yet. I could change my first name's spelling so that it looks more like it sounds: Ronni instead of Roni (which many people pronounce like Rice-a-Roni, which I hate). Or I could pick something completely different and unrelated to my name, which is fun to think about.
They need to come up with a pen name generator/formula like they have those formulas for your stripper name. (For those curious, the stripper formula is the name of your first pet plus the name of the street you grew up on. With that one, my name is Pumpkin Randolph. I definitely won't be using that one on a book, lol.)
So how about you? Do you plan to use a pen name? Why or why not? What would your pen name be? And for fun, what's your stripper name?
**Today's Theme Song**
"You Never Even Called Me By My Name" - David Allen Coe
(player in sidebar--make sure you listen until the last verse, great for a laugh)