Arkadia's picture
Arkadia from Australia is reading Selected Poems by W.H. Auden January 14, 2012 - 2:20pm

What do people think about publishing under a pen name? Do you use one? Are you against them? Why?

I've been going back and forth between whether to use one or not. My situation in particular is confusing -- I have two surnames (not a hyphenated surname, just two surnames by which different people call me), and hate them both, not so much for reasons of melody but for sentimental reasons. I identify with neither of these names, so, if/when I get married I absolutely intend to change my last name to my husband's. That makes three different last names for me.

Seems simpler to just slap a pseudonym on anything I publish and collect it all under that name. But I foresee so many questions arising, and even having to deal with people doubting me (You claim you published that story? How come it's not under your name? *skeptical look*).

What do people think about the subject? Why/why wouldn't you use a pen name?

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 14, 2012 - 3:10pm

I don't see any problem with people writing under pen names, whatever their reasons. Some differentiate their works in different genres with different names. I think Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman to see if his popularity was due to his writing or name recognition (someone else here is more likely to know his reasons). Sometimes it's just straight up marketing.

If you want to invent a public persona pen name for publishing, go for it. Make it something poetic and memorable.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. January 14, 2012 - 5:03pm

I use a pen name because it has been my internet name for a long time.  My middle name is 'Howard', and I've been called Howie by various friends and whatnot.  At some point in college, I started signing my work 'Bryan Howie' often enough that a teacher finally had to pull me aside to ask if I was actually enrolled in his class.  

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 14, 2012 - 5:29pm

If you want to make some quick cash writing romance or erotica, use a pen name!  Just fyi.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 14, 2012 - 6:19pm

I named my pen "inky"

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 14, 2012 - 6:52pm

I've thought about one just because I think 4 authors are working under my name, same spelling.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters January 14, 2012 - 6:55pm

I use a pen name in real life and use my actual name for writing. 

Marius Hjelseth's picture
Marius Hjelseth from the frozen Norwegian tundra is reading Gomorrah January 14, 2012 - 7:15pm

Having never actually been published, I've never really had to deal with this issue. I think I'd just stick with my actual name though. I'm not ashamed of anything I write. I say: let them struggle with the seemingly random mess of consonants that is my name. Builds character. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 14, 2012 - 7:29pm

@Marius - how do you pronounce Hjelseth? H-gel-seth - or is there some Norwegian trick to it?

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 14, 2012 - 11:07pm

My erotica pen name is Man Handled.

Marius Hjelseth's picture
Marius Hjelseth from the frozen Norwegian tundra is reading Gomorrah January 15, 2012 - 4:32pm

@postpomo: It's actually very simple. Just put the words "yell" and "set" together and you have it. I guess the cunfusing part is that the "J" is soft and both the "H"es are silent. We have crazy naming conventions, don't get me started. 

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words January 15, 2012 - 5:13pm

the only thing even vaguely Norwegian I've read is by Haruki Murakami, so I'm really off to a backwards start.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 15, 2012 - 6:11pm

I write erotic horror under H.P Lovesauce.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 15, 2012 - 6:13pm

"His tendrils slowly woke her as they rubbed seductively over her face and breasts, slimy threads of mucus trailing along her chest."

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts January 15, 2012 - 6:20pm

One of us should really run with that.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones January 15, 2012 - 10:58pm

i have written under a pen name online, and i dont think i would in print, unless i had some weird stalking issues, the way chris baer did. but i have joined (other) workshops with a pen name, because i assume that if i were to publish, and continue to use a public workshop, using my real name may cause issues.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 15, 2012 - 11:52pm

Baer had a stalker?  I was never arrested!

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones January 16, 2012 - 12:04am

yeah... he told me about it, or i remember reading it somwhere. anyway, it sounded really freakin' creepy.

Gayle Towell's picture
Gayle Towell from North Plains, Oregon January 20, 2012 - 7:00pm

This is something I've been back and forth with myself as well. I have published a few short stories under my real name, but have been seriously considering going with a pen name for my novel(s) and all other future writing. I think ultimately what name you choose to go by makes little difference. I just have personal reasons for preferring to be known under a different name--though nothing as cool as being stalked. Yet.

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind January 23, 2012 - 3:26pm

I've had this issue, too. In fact, I started a thread about it here ages ago!
I don't like the sound of my name as an author's handle, to be honest. I've decided to write a bunch of books and wait till I get married so I can use my husband's last name. That should solve the problem.

Oh, but... what if I don't get married? Hm. Might need a new plan, then.

 

Nighty Nite's picture
Nighty Nite from NJ is reading Grimscribe: His Lives and Works January 23, 2012 - 4:02pm

I'll be using a pen name. Really, my first and last name together sound a little awkward. It's not even that they don't sound "authory" enough or whatever. I could care less about that. It just doesn't roll off the tongue well. Robert Thomas is pretty plain, but at the same time, it sounds like a name you'd hear after the word "by", so that is what I use.

Of course, during the secret santa, whoever drew my name here addressed my book to "Robert Nite". That will be my pornstar name.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. January 23, 2012 - 8:53pm

That's hot.  My porn name is Gaping Hole.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch January 23, 2012 - 10:36pm

Same boat as Zach! I keep waiting for something "big" to start using a pen name, then in the meantime I published a bunch of stuff (only one in a big journal) under various combinations of my Romanian name and my married name, one or the other or both, and both are a bit clumsy and either hard to remember or hard to stand out with. And I want a pen name badly! Is it too late?

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 15, 2012 - 11:03pm

Wrote everything under my pen name because my real name is so common...John Smith or Thomas Williams common.

Have you come up with any likely pen names yet?

nathaniel parker's picture
nathaniel parker from Cincinnati is reading The Dark Tower ~ King February 15, 2012 - 11:40pm

My erotica pen name is Man Handled.

 

Mine's Hiny Rugburn.

 

I plan on just using my real name for anything I write. Although, a couple weeks ago I started doing a little something that would basically be a sort of personal manifesto on Woman, like, their history and importance and whatnot. But I think if it ever came to publishing it, I'd do it under a female name, just to take off some of that knee-jerk reaction of "What's the hell does this dickhead think he knows about women." Is that being too sneaky?

Also, it would suck if Female-Me ended up being more successful than Real-Me.

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 16, 2012 - 12:49am

While we're on the subject - I can't be the only person who thinks Dallas Mayr is a cooler-sounding name than Jack Ketchum? Is it just me?

nathaniel parker's picture
nathaniel parker from Cincinnati is reading The Dark Tower ~ King February 16, 2012 - 12:59am

Mayr looks like it's not all there. Like whoever was kidnapped in the middle of typing out the name. Just like CandleJa

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 16, 2012 - 1:13am

To me it's unique - he's the only Mayr I've ever seen. And, Dallas is a different given name...(I'm from Michigan)

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 16, 2012 - 2:48am

I use Joseph Day. It's just the English version of my name; Jose Diaz.

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 16, 2012 - 2:51am

I oughta try the Espanol or Italiano version of my English name....

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 16, 2012 - 2:57am

I oughta try the Espanol version of my English name....Diego Escribiente.

nathaniel parker's picture
nathaniel parker from Cincinnati is reading The Dark Tower ~ King February 16, 2012 - 8:31am

Escribiente is good because it almost looks like it's got Scribe in it.

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner February 16, 2012 - 8:37am

I think I am going with M.L. Hall. 

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 16, 2012 - 8:46am

I have too much class to suggest I'd ever use an erotica pen name like "Mike Hunts"...thank goodness for my discretion....

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner February 16, 2012 - 8:52am

Sofa King We Todd Ed. 

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade February 16, 2012 - 9:17am

Yes - exactly - so I'd never consider it...

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer February 16, 2012 - 9:21am

I considered using a pen name in order to keep from being confused as the Jack Campbell who wrote The Lost Fleet series.  Ironically, his name is John Hembry, and he chose to use a pen name to keep from being confused with John Henry.  I actually emailed Hembry and asked him for his advice.  He had no problem with me writing as Jack Campbell, Jr., which is my real name and offered a couple of suggestions for pen names if I chose to use one.

Right now, I am comfortable using my real name.  That may change some day.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 February 24, 2012 - 1:42pm

I've been thinking about a pen name, all the crap I say in stories and on the internet shouldn't be so easily traced back to me.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books February 24, 2012 - 2:00pm

I made the decision to use a pen name after my divorce. I had changed my name, and was considering changing it back, and also wanted to leave myself open to deciding whether to take any future husband's last name (which I did end up doing). I published about 3 things under the penname before I decided it was a dumb idea, but I've decided to run with it.

And anyway, my "real" name isn't even my real name. I'm tricky like that.

Dave's picture
Dave from a city near you is reading constantly February 24, 2012 - 2:23pm

My name is very common.  I've found authors with every variance of my name (first, middle/middle initial, last, junior)

I'm not sure how to handle that.  Other than a pen name, of course.

DaveShepherd's picture
DaveShepherd from Calgary is reading No Country for Old Men February 24, 2012 - 3:51pm

I imagine I'll have to use a pen name when I publish fiction because my name is so common... and everyone spells "Shepherd" wrong. Not sure what I'll go with though...

Nick Rolynd's picture
Nick Rolynd from the US is reading Leviathan February 24, 2012 - 7:57pm

Nick Rolynd is my pen name.

I don't like my real name. My first name is so common it hurts. My last name has rather boring connotations. Both of them together sound really dull.

Laramore Black's picture
Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 February 24, 2012 - 7:59pm

I'm going to make a super awesome alter-ego.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks March 3, 2012 - 11:31am

Bill Johnson sounds boring. William P. Johnson is too long. I didn't want to use a different last name because I think it would upset my parents (they either want a grandkid or a book with their last name on it and there's no way I'm having a kid anytime soon). So I decided on W. P. Johnson. Its sort of H P Lovecraftish. And I usually sign my named W P Johnson.

.'s picture
. March 3, 2012 - 11:33am

Dirk Diggler?

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. March 3, 2012 - 5:46pm

How about Engorged Johnson?

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 3, 2012 - 6:13pm

I spelled my name as Kourtnie for a long time because of personal reasons involving my dad's choices when naming me. My last name is commonly associated with a famous pop singer, but I think I'd rather use it than a pen name. After going by Kourtnie for just under a third of my life, I can see the value in having a common, easy to spell, no-questions-asked name. I kind of want to be able to say my name without having to ask them to spell it differently than the common way, and if I get married, I think I'll either hyphenate or just write under my husband's last name.

@Night I feel unbelievably ridiculous for being the one to point this out so late in the conversation... but isn't Robert Thomas the guy who sings in Matchbox Twenty?

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. March 4, 2012 - 1:36am

I think he just goes by Rob Thomas.

Yeah, you don't want to get mistaken for Courtney Love, Mom of the year.

What's funny is I like some of her music, I think she's a terrible human being.  Although I could say the same for most musicians.  Madonna should just get herself mummified already.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks March 4, 2012 - 10:40am

That's reassuring at least.

Actually, my last name is Duff. As in Hilary. I'd rather be mistaken for Courtney Love than Hilary Duff's cousin/sister/daughter/mom (I've literally been called each by random people I've told my name.) I don't know much about Hilary Duff, but I do agree Courtney Love is a horrible human being. I don't know much of her music, my mom blamed her for Kurt Cobain's death and my mom was too into grunge to express. It was kind of insane.

Madonna isn't already mummified?

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. March 4, 2012 - 3:13pm

I grew up in the grunge era as well.  Kurt Cobain was still alive when I was in high school.  They were like the Sid and Nancy of grunge music. Eddie Vedder was like the Jack Kerouac or something.

Anyway, heroin is a terrible drug.

I just remember she got so much shit for a lyric in one of her songs since she was a mother at the time saying, "I don't do the dishes, I throw them in the crib."  Which makes me laugh in a terrible way.

Jimothy Scott's picture
Jimothy Scott from Canada is reading The Anatomy of Story by John Truby March 4, 2012 - 4:33pm

@ aliensoul I laugh at so much of what you have to say