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  1. ECgirl19

    ECgirl19 New Member

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    Pen names

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by ECgirl19, May 21, 2019.

    Hi All, I am new to writing and writing forums.

    I have considered using a pen name for my books which are unpublished at present.
    I was wondering, why do people use a pen name?
    What are the pros and cons to them?

    Sorry If this topic has been covered many times.
    Thanks
    [​IMG]
     
  2. HeathBar

    HeathBar Member

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    I haven't published anything yet (outside of professional articles for my day job), but if/when I do, I will use a pen name. This is for both professional reasons (want to keep writing and day job separate) and personal reasons (my writing draws heavily from my life and prefer to maintain some semblance of privacy [to the extent anyone ever reads my stuff besides my husband]).
     
  3. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I use a pen name because I write Romance books with explicit sexual content, and for personal and professional reasons I don't need that getting associated with my real name. Also, my real last name is not terribly elegant and difficult to pronounce, so even if I wrote G-rated stuff I'd probably use a pseudonym anyway.
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I want my name on my works. I've worked hard to get things published. I think I deserve the credit. And I've upset some people with things I've published, but so what? It was good enough to publish. F--- the haters. They don't have their names on published works and I do. I've worked so so hard to get my work out there. And getting my name out there is also part of it. It is my dream to be literary famous. And literary famous is a lot different than commercial famous. I'm finally at a stage where my creative writing is getting noticed and some attention. This is what I've wanted for a long time. If there was a pen name on my stuff, I think I would feel like I was missing out. This is me. This is my work. I don't care if I have the best name or not, but my byline is real and that's important to me.
     
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  5. Damage718

    Damage718 Member

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    I can see it this way.

    I can see it the other way too.

    That's why I'm a little torn on it. I personally have been published in several magazines, newspapers and websites, plus trade journals and other sources for my professional career - all under my real name. If I publish a book, would it help or harm me to use a pen name? Since I've been published many times under my real name, wouldn't that help (at least intangibly) with credibility for publishing a book? Part of me wants to keep my book writing and other writing separate by using different names. But another part of me wants to say 'yes, I wrote ALL these different things, for different sources, it's what I do'...and own it.

    Again, torn here :cool:
     
  6. ECgirl19

    ECgirl19 New Member

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    A lot to think about there. Thankyou everyone. I read the early posts so came up with a pen name for myself. Then I read the latter posts and you have got me thinking now? It's a tough one. :confused:
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Today is a publication day for me. What's out there is the most personal thing I've ever written. I feel like it's my soul on the page. I will admit it's scary a little. Anyone who googles me now can read about my life in a way I've never presented it. I had the support of a good editor and publisher. I never thought about a pen name, but I did question how far I would take this. I went all the way. Held back nothing. I'm not sure how it will be received or what will happen, but I do feel good. I'm proud of my work and I'm proud my name is on this work. For me, I think using a pen name would have been a mistake. This is my career and things are starting to take off. I'm not Joe Shmo. I'm deadrats!!! Of course, my published work has my real name on it. But here I'm deadrats. Seriously, I feel very exposed, but I also feel like I have a voice and something to say. I don't want to hide behind anything. Scary or not, I worked hard for this. I'm ready for this. Whatever comes of it, it came from me.
     
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  8. Richach

    Richach Active Member

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    I dont have any real opinions on this (as usual) but I would say that having your own name on your work means it better be good. Blogs, websites, articles and books. It is usually there forever with the internet once people interact with it, as is the case CWF, it cannot be taken down.

    On myy own writing blog on wordpress I am finding is affecting the way I write or at least post.

    I agree with Rats, I want my name on my works too.
     
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  9. Lone Wanderer

    Lone Wanderer Member

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    I want to write under a pen name as my real name isn’t very exciting (I have one of the most common surnames in existence). Also, I’m writing fantasy and may want to keep that body of work separate from more serious work/non-fiction in the future. I’m Hispanic and would like my pen name to reflect that (although this may cause people to search for cultural/racial subtext in my work that doesn’t exist).

    How does “Phillip/Jordan/Richard del Reyes” sound?

    (Richard is my favorite as its a nod to my grandfather.)
     
  10. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I like having a very large buffer between my professional life and my personal life.
     
  11. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure personally. I was convinced I wanted my real name on it - much like @deadrats , I'm proud of my work and I want the world to know this came from me. I've never understood people who won't put their name on their work - aren't you proud of it? Don't you want the world to know?

    But then I got on Twitter and one time I tweeted something. The next day, the topic related to the tweet came up at work and a colleague asked, "Oh yeah didn't you write something on Twitter about it?" And I was shocked. Of course it's silly that I was shocked - it's social media and it's only natural people I hadn't directed the tweet at would be able to read it too. But honestly, I just never thought about it. The illusion of social media is the feeling that you're having a private conversation when it's anything but private.

    And this led me to thinking: it'll be the same for my books. Let's assume I get published. Let's assume I meet moderate success. (Of course I believe I would or why would I still be trying?) People I know will read the book and know it's from me. I'm not fussed about strangers, but the people I know? Am I ready to bare my soul to the people I know? Worse, these would not be close friends who understand you. These are people who know your face and a little bit about you but not all that well - I find that scary. That I could be completely misunderstood. That they could form opinions about me and my skills without ever letting me know. Of course in relationships, everyone has opinions about each other but if I'm in that relationship, I know about it. I have an idea, at least. But what they think of me when they read my book? I'm not there. I don't know. That's scary. Who else would read my book?

    Add all this to the complication of working in a school. I work at a school. Are any views I express or sex scenes that I write going to offend some sensitive headteacher and get me into trouble? Will my students read my book and come to class and say, "Hey the teacher wrote this! Look, this scene right here where the dude is banging the girl." Currently I'm only working in a primary school but my aim is to move on to secondary - to work with teenagers. This will probably happen if I did actually get published and one of my pupils read it.

    So... all that? Yeah, I'm thinking of using a pen name. But what I said in the beginning stands, that I want people to know it's from me, that I'm proud of my work. So I'm torn. I don't know what I'd regret more.

    ETA: then there's also cyber harassment to think of. Anyone can look you up. In this day and age, it's easy enough to find your personal details. Do I really want that? Do I want so many people to know everything about me? Should I say something that offends someone one of these days - and it's likely - is it going to destroy my career? (and remember writing isn't actually my career. There's a job outside of it I care about that I don't want to jeopardise. Love writing and all but it can't ever be the only thing I do, I think) Places like Twitter can eat people alive these days. Having a pen name creates a level of distance, and that distance can be good.
     
  12. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Active Member

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    I kind of think it could depend on what you plan on writing. If you are going to write about a serial killer and then someone in your life goes missing....do you really want your name on a book where a killer is going around rubbing out people? Same for extreme sex scenes in your work or uncomfortable issues like child abuse. One thing I would like to show in my work at some point is a new method for child abuse investigators or law enforcement to discover child abuse. This means I am going to have to at a minimum imply sexual/physical/emotional abuse in my story and I work with kids. I have nieces and nephews. I do not need people looking at me and thinking, how does that guy know how this would happen? Did *he* do something like this? It doesn't really matter that a google search of something like "survivor story + abuse" will turn up *WAY TOO MUCH* in the way of information people will still look at you funny.....
     
  13. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    I do it for two reasons. First, because I don't want to be known as a writer. My personal life and my life as a writer are entirely separate. I have zero interest in fame and don't want to be recognized. Secondly, in the modern world, anything you can say is probably going to offend someone and that gets people screaming and all of that. Therefore, I have one set of accounts for my regular self and one set of accounts only for writing. My writing accounts have no opinions. You will never, ever, ever find those accounts saying anything "offensive" because they don't say anything except "here's my newest book".
     
  14. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I go by several pseudonyms on writing sites mainly it was to see what kind of response I'd get using a different gender. It's been interesting. Lol.

    My own name also sounds like the offspring of two major romance authors - perfect if I was writing romances but since I don't, I wanted something less pretty a little more old fashioned. I picked Edi Marchen. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I want to trad publish. I like my privacy cause the one thing that does scare me about success is being thrust into the public eye. I can stand by what I write it's not that - I just want the buffer.
     
  15. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    My name's so common that'd it'd get drown out in searches. So I'd probably use a pseudonym. I wouldn't try to keep who's behind the pseudonym a secret.

    People would probably dig up some stupid shit I said on this forum (or somewhere else on the internet). Doesn't matter if that's 30 years from now. Forgiveness and "a path of redemption" and context aren't relevant to some people. You're forever 18 or however old you were when you said what you said.

    But, I think that's malicious, wrong, and shouldn't be tolerated. So I spite it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  16. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    For many people the age of the internet and social media is relatively new. People jump on bandwagons. Soon enough this will become normalized and people won't care. That said, most people don't care anyway. It's just that those who do have a platform to be heard by the masses.
     
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  17. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Depressing thought (unless you mean the general populace will become desensitized to that kind of dirt digging and not care, which I would prefer).
     
  18. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Yeah, I meant the dirt digging. People will not care so much about past indiscretions, considering everyone has them. Right now it's used as a weak argument for people looking for anything to demonize someone they don't like. It's pathetic, really.
     
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  19. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I think that will happen too. I hope. Sooner the better! I wanted to write a story where people could do that by sifting through their memories.

    EDIT: Anywayyy, sorry I got off-topic. To connect this back, I don't think pseudonyms help with this *if* people find out your real name, as would be my case since I wouldn't be using a pseudonym for privacy. And nowadays with people on the internet banding together and tracking down Shia by using pictures of the stars... Well, I guess at worse a pseudonym will just make it more difficult to make the connection.
     
  20. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    A pen name, like a stage name, is more about branding than anything else.
     
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  21. Mish

    Mish Active Member

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    Hmmmm, good question:

    For pen name - My name is unique so it will stand out. My main genre is science fiction, not much of my private life appears in what I write so I should avoid any previously mentioned awkwardness. I'm proud of my work and I want the world to know I wrote it. I stand behind what I write. I want to initiate conversation based on what I've written and do it my name. If my work is successful and popular then I would be proud to have my name on it.

    Against pen name - My name is unique, but may not be easy to pronounce, I don't know if it's a cool sounding name for a writer, is that a setback? I'm proud of my work, but it is not perfect, am I ready to answer a million awkward questions from people I know about my stories? (e.g. why did he do this then? That's just silly! Remember the missing coma on page 51? etc.) I'm also worried about privacy. If my work is unsuccessful and unpopular it would be awkward to have my name on it.
     
  22. Saphry

    Saphry Member

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    I would use a pen name for privacy reasons. It's interesting though to think of pen names as part of branding.
     
  23. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I've mostly published short stories and essays, but I have been asked by more than one place to include an author photo. Given the format of some of these places it would stand out more to not include a photo even if that was an option, but I know one place I've done some work for was very adamant about including an author photo to go with my work. With essays (creative nonfiction) most places won't even let you change names in the piece so I really don't think no picture and a pen name would work there. And they pay me pretty well and seem to like my writing. If I was set on a pen name, I would not have this opportunity. Yes, some people from real life aren't always pleased with what I write, but I'm taking the small amount of success I have and running with it. It also helps to have a legit, real bio with my name on it to list other publications, degrees, fellowships or grants.

    With both fiction and nonfiction I put everything have into it. But this is what I do. I am a writer. There is no other job to worry about, but even if there was, I don't think I would care. A book. A story. Whatever. Writing is an art form and a form of expression. I know a lot of writers in real life and not one of them uses a pen name.

    It's hard enough to build a name for yourself. Also, it just sort of rubs me the wrong way to think an author is using a fake name. I understand people do it and have their reasons. But most of us are never going to reach a point where it would be an issue like we're so famous now and everyone wants a piece of us. I also don't think a job even has the right to fire you for writing whatever you want in your spare time. I guess it's fun for some people to think about and feel like their writing self is a different person. But I also see many ways it could actually hold a writer back, such as needing to provide an author photo, going on book tours, doing readings. But not everyone wants to be a writer the same way I do, and that's fine too. I just no a pen name name would be really hard to pull off and probably get in the way for me and the path I'm on.
     

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