1. sarkans
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    sarkans New Member

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    picking a pen name

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sarkans, Aug 2, 2013.

    I am from North Europe originally but moved to London and want to publish, therefore I need to get rid of my all too foreign sounding and hard to remember name. However, since I'm not a native English speaker, I'm afraid to unknowingly pick something cheesy or ridiculous sounding. What do you say about these options:

    A. Miles

    A. Lang

    A. Winters

    A. Faber

    When you see them, what do you think of? What do they sound like to you?

    I'm writing non-fiction by the way, for newspapers etc.

    Thank you so much for your help!
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    none of them suggest anything in particular to me... they're just names...

    i'd only wonder whether the writer is a woman who doesn't want anyone to know she's female, or a guy whose first name is something like aloysius, so he doesn't like to use it...
     
  3. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    I hear Rowling is a successful name.

    Me, I sticking with me given names: Niles Nevin Nigel, III
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm just wondering why a writer of newspaper pieces would feel the need to use a pen name. I mean, it's not as if readers peruse the newsstands every day muttering, "Now, where in blazes might I find an article by that Miles Lang Winters Faber??"
     
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  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that, too!
     
  6. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Yes, and honestly mate, the chances that someone will see your name and hunt you down to your house in London are quite low.
     
  7. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    You could try 'Boz', as I believe he is no longer using it.
     
  8. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    In this instance I think that using your real name could be more beneficial than a penname. Sure, it might be harder to remember or spell - but if someone sees it repeatedly in the papers then I imagine it would be more likely to occur to them that they've seen the name before than if you were to use a more common name.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't know, Adolf or Osama could be problematic. ;)
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want to use a pen name and have initials in it, I would use two initials instead of one. It seems to be more common, which you're somewhat shooting for as you don't want to use a 'foreign' name that stands out.

    Like A. W. Miles

    I'd also do a thorough search to make sure you don't select the same name as a current/established author.

    That's my two cents.
     
  11. Kelson
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    Kelson Member

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    Okay Sarkans,

    I have put quite a lot of thought into this and I am about to share something of value so listen up straight yo! :) If you web search me, Kelson Hargis, I am the only person that appears in the first 10 returns. Think about that a moment. No one knows who Kelson Hargis is but when they do mine will be the primary return. Think about that when considering pen names and search for ones unique enough to distinguish you from the crowd. (Kelson is my middle name by the way.)

    As for the name suggestions that you posted: I, personally, am tired of author's names that begin with a letter. I think that screams novice in my humble opinion. There are so many people with their first initials on published works, S.E. Henton, A.A. Garrison (whom I highly recommend), etc. etc. ad nauseam.

    My recommendation: Thoroughly vet any English name that you choose by web searching it exhaustively, if it is unique, grab it. That way when you make a name for yourself it will be unique enough for the people that like your work to find you right away.

    As noted web search Kelson's Challenge or Kelson Hargis. I guarantee I am the only one that appears in the initial search results. If you have any questions PM me and I will be glad to quantify any of your search results.

    ~Kelson
     
  12. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    Miles - doesn't stand out to me. I'd want something more memorable.

    Lang and Faber are both German names, nicht war?

    Winters works fine.


    There have been times when immigrants have wanted to anglicise their names, and typically go for a native surname (or native-sounding surname) that is very close to their actual surname - something of the type of Mitterand --> Mitchell, Wakowski --> Wake, Alvarez --> Albers.
     
  13. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    I've often contemplated using a penname if I ever choose to publish. The issue is that there aren't many female writers in the genre of fiction I prefer to write. A "male" name I feel wouldn't cause a potential reader to hesitate. (Not that I personally think female writers are bad, some people just make automatic assumptions, unfortunately)

    The one thing I have going for me is that my name is a unisex name, spelled the masculine way (Peyton). Would using my normal name suffice, giving no hints to my gender?
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Winters isn't a first name - or are you asking us to pick a surname? 'Cause Miles is a first name, not surname. I'm confused. Lang also sounds like a surname to me - pretty sure I had a teacher called Mrs Lang when I was young.

    Anyway, all of those names sound fine.
     
  15. DH Hanni
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    DH Hanni Member

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    I use a pen name, also my user name here, just because my actual name is wayyyyyyy too long. Fingers crossed, when I get a book(s) published, my pen name will look so much better on the cover. And it'd be a heck of a lot easier to sign it.

    But to answer the question, if you are writing non-fiction why is it necessary to use a pen name? Is there still a lot of prejudice for the type of writing you want to do against 'foreign' sounding names? If so, that's a depressing thought.
     
  16. sarkans
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    sarkans New Member

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    Thank you all for answers! I didn't visit for a week as I started to feel a bit ridiculous for giving you guys 4 random surnames and asking what you think about them :D But anyway. I decided to change my name too. (if you wonder why someone writing for newspapers might want a pen name - I plan to publish papers after a few years and wouldn't want all this money making with sometimes frivolous articles pop up one day. Maybe it's not a big deal, but why not avoid the possibility if I can?)

    Vega Winters is the only one I could think of that is not taken yet. Does it sound cheesy/flashy/old fashioned/anything else or is it fine? It sounds a bit too much for me, but maybe it's not? Thanks anyone who is willing to help. Also, if you have any first name suggestions for this surname, please don't hesitate to write them :)
     
  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Lol, don't feel ridiculous - it's a perfectly legitimate question :) It's what we're here for.

    Anyway, considering you wanted a non-foreign-sounding name, why would you go for Vega? Which country is that name from? It's certainly not English. Good choice with Winters btw, it's a very pretty name. To be honest I have the same dilemma myself, only in the opposite direction - I want my name to sound foreign without alienating readers, and finding that rather difficult to do... meh.
     
  18. sarkans
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    sarkans New Member

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    Yeah, it is foreign sounding, but it is much more easy to remember than my own name, therefore I don't mind. I tried English names too but googling them always lead me to lots of people who already have that combination of name and surname.

    Good luck in your quest, Mckk. Have you tried going through any databases of names popular in other countries?
     
  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, for myself, it's not so much a pen name I want as that I've got two names - one English and the other Chinese - and I would love to use something of my Chinese name but without alienating the reader, as I write in English. I thought I'd found that combination when I opted to use the initials of my Chinese name, K.Y. - until I found out KY Jelly is a hugely popular lubricant... :rolleyes:
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it could... though i'd probably be more inclined to think it's a woman, than a man, for some reason...
     
  21. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    And my fiancé's name is Skyler, which everyone thinks his name is feminine, especially since Breaking Bad grew in popularity. I guess I assumed masculinity to my name because of Peyton Manning.

    My backup plan is to use my father's middle name as my "first" name, Clifford.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first thing that popped into my mind when i saw 'clifford' was 'the dog'... ;)

    seriously, that will definitely make folks assume the author is a guy...
     
  23. sarkans
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    sarkans New Member

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    Clifford definitely sounds male and to me male exclusively :D

    But, guys, let's go back to the topic. What do you think about Vega Winters? Nobody has answered therefore I assume you don't like it and don't want to write that you don't :D Please give me some feedback?
     
  24. DH Hanni
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    DH Hanni Member

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    How about Vera Winters? Vega makes me think of Las Vegas and just sounds a bit off. Or it makes me think of vegan which isn't bad for those that are vegans just I have a weird word association with it.
     
  25. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    I think to sound genuinely English you need some kind of title. I'm thinking Baron. Then you need an evil sounding name (which are the coolest) and some kind of landholding.

    How about Baron Doom of Upper Great Faffingwoodshireton upon Sea.

    Rolls of the tongue nicely AND contributes to your word count. You can't lose.
     

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