One question that many authors based at the beginning of their careers is whether or not they should use their real name when they publish a book. A lot of authors do use pseudonyms if they don’t want to use their real names, others use them to protect their identities. Some authors are told by their publishers to choose a different name so that they fit into a particular genre. If you write erotica, for example, and work as a schoolteacher it might be a good idea to choose a different name.
Using a pen name really depends on the person and comes down to personal choice. If you have a very common name then you may want to use one.
I planned on using just my initials and my surname for my first novel then I realised that I was already known as “Tiffany Shand” on social media and no one would know who I was if I started using just initials. Thankfully my name is very uncommon so I didn’t have to worry about another author having it.
I use the name “TiffanyShand” or “TiffanyShandAuthor” on all my social media platforms now. Using different names would just confuse people. My journalism tutor once told me to use my real name in my business so I just went with that.
Other authors use pen names when writing in different genres, such as Nora Roberts who uses the name J D Robb for her crime fiction.
How to choose a pen name
- Use the name from a relative whether it be a first name or last name. Perhaps your grandmother’s name.
- Have a look of your family tree to see there something you like.
- Try a baby book. I often use baby books or books of names and surnames to help with naming my characters.
- Search online for in a meaning of something you like.
- Look at similar names in your genre to give you some ideas.
- Look at place names.
- Try an online name generator – you might be surprised by the results!
Would you use a pen name or real name? If so, why?