So you’re thinking about creating a pen name?
Here’s what you need to know before you pick your pen name.
Should You Write Under a Pen Name?
There are a few reasons why some writers or artists pick pen names:
A pen name allows you to write and publish your book anonymously. So if you’re a practicing attorney and don’t want your clients or partners to know you write steamy romance novels on the side, you’ll want to use a pen name.
2. Protecting Your Brand
Some authors write books in multiple genres and want to keep their books from different genres separate by writing them under different pen names. This makes a lot of sense is you write children’s books and erotic romance
However, if you’re writing thrillers and romance novels, or fantasy and historical fiction, you’re probably better off NOT using a pen name. That’s because you’re going to need to market your books under each different pen name. It’s hard enough to market one book series on social media and your website.
Marketing multiple pen names with multiple social media accounts and websites is just a headache you’re better off avoiding by sticking to publishing books under a single author name unless there’s a really good reason not to.
Some names are complicated, tough to pronounce, hard to remember, or just plain confusing because they’re too similar to the names of existing authors with established brands.
For example, if your name happens to be Stephen King, you’re definitely going to want to create a pen name because that author name has already been taken my friends.
How to Create a Pen Name
Make sure your pen name is short. It should include a first name and last name but NOT a middle name and NO middle initials.
It’s so important to follow this simple principle because readers will have to remember your pen name, tell their friends about it, and be able to find it online when searching in Google or Amazon.
What Is a Pen Name Example?
Below are both good and bad examples of pen names to help you make a wiser decision when it comes to choosing your pseudonym.
Good Pen Name Examples
Here are some good, short, easy-to-pronounce and easy-to-remember pen names:
- Chris Baldwin
- Sarah Barker
- Harry Collins
Bad Pen Name Examples
Here are some bad pen name examples. Notice how much longer they are, how many more syllables they have, and how much harder it will be for readers to remember or spell them, let alone type them correctly into a Google or Amazon search box.
- Harvey T. Andreseweitz
- Charlese Amy Juniperson
- Seamus McAllister Schwartzeneiger
Check out our list of pen name generators to help you come up with some great ideas.
You can also just sit down and brainstorm first and last name ideas, or google “good first and last name ideas.”
Once you’ve got your list of potential first and last names that are 1) short, 2) easy to spell, and 3) easy to remember, start mixing and matching them until you find one you really like.
Before You Select Your Pen Name
Before you pick your final pen name, make sure to do a google search for that name, and also search on Amazon for that name. If there’s another author with that pen name already, you may want to find a new pen name.
However, if the author with your ideal pen name exists but has not published many books recently or hasn’t sold many books, you may want to just use that pen name anyway.
If you’re serious about your writing career and know how to become a bestseller on Amazon, you’ll easily be able to outrank another author when readers search for your pen name on Amazon or Google if that other author is not doing any serious marketing.
Can You Copyright Under a Pen Name?
According to copyright.gov, a copyright does not protect pseudonyms or pen names.
Therefore, if you write under a pen name, you’ll want to provide both your legal name and your pen name on your application for copyright registration.
Get Your Website Domain
The other thing you’ll want to do once you pick your pen name is to buy your website domain for that pen name (example: www.yourpenname.com).
You can follow our free guide on how to build a website and blog to set up your website correctly and easily without having to pay an expensive web designer.
Set Up Your Author Profiles
You can also set up your author profiles:
- How to setup an Amazon author profile
- How to setup a Goodreads author profile
- How to setup a Bookbub author profile
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.