Tips for Starting a Brand New Pen Name from Scratch
A pseudonym by any other nom de plume is still a pen name.
Few people have heard of Chloe Ardelia Wofford, David John Moore Cornwell, or Howard Allen Frances O’Brien. Ask them if they've heard of Toni Morrison, John le Carré, and Ann Rice, however, and they're more likely to reply in the affirmative.
Why Would Someone Use a Pen Name?
The decision to use a pen name could be professional or personal. In John le Carré's case, spies can't write under their actual names. Anne Rice detested the name Howard and had it legally changed to Anne, which she thought to be much prettier, at a young age.
Some reasons that today's authors might choose to use a pen name include:
- An established author is trying a new genre that would not be well-received by their current audience or fanbase.
- Two or more authors plan to co-author a work and want to do so under a single name.
- An author is secretly writing in a genre that may be frowned upon by people in their daily lives.
- The author's name is similar to someone who is well-known, and they want to avoid confusing readers as to who is writing the books.
- The author's real name and/or gender doesn't fit the genre for which they are writing.
And some authors use a pen name to make a distinct separation between their professional and personal lives.
Advice for Selecting Your New Name
When selecting your new pen name, it should be something you love while fitting in with the genre under which you'll be writing. If you're chasing a trending genre, however, be careful as the market swings all the time. What's hot today could sink faster than the Titanic tomorrow.
Once you've taken the time to learn the genre, you'll want to look at the names of the authors who write the bestselling titles. Do you notice any similarities between the names?
Also take note of what about these names stands out from names of authors in other genres. The pen name for a cozy mystery author would likely feel out of place on the cover of a reverse harem steamy romance book.
And if all else fails, you can use the Reedsy pen name generator which offers selections from over a million possible choices.
Websites, Newsletters, and Social Media, Oh My!
Once you have your shiny new pen name in place, it's time to introduce it to the world. There are multiple ways that you can do this, but here are three of our favorites.
- Build a website. Step one is to make sure the domain name is available. The last thing you want to do is to build up this huge brand only to find out that the domain you want is already in use.
- Create a solid social media foundation. Along with BookBub and Amazon Author Central, you'll at least want to have a Facebook page.
- Set up your newsletter. Put a sign-up link on your social media pages to help encourage readers to subscribe.
Ready to get started on your new pen name but aren't sure how to gather an audience. Check out all the ways that the Novel Publicity marketing team can help. Before you know it, you'll have readers asking you to write faster so they can read more books written under your pen name!