Do You Use A Pen Name?

Do You Use A Pen Name?


Pen names

As an author do you write under your own name or do you use a pen name? Pen names are also known as pseudonyms or non de plumes?

Many authors use a different name when they write and publish their books. There are good reasons for doing this and there is nothing illegal about it.

This trend has already been established by many famous authors.

Famous authors


  • Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
  • George Orwell’s real name was Eric Arthur Blair.
  • JK Rowling’s real name is Joanne Rowling.  Because she has also been writing crime novels Rowling has another pen name: Robert Galbraith.
  • Lewis Carroll was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Why use a pen name?


Why write your books under another name? Here are some reasons authors do this. 

1. A leading professional may want a pen name to separate their professional identity from what they do in their personal life.

2.  A high profile lawyer may choose a pen name for his/her romance novels so as to not confuse the clients or have them know what they do privately.

3. You wouldn’t want to write under your legal name if it was the same as or too close to someone famous.

4. So as not to confuse the readers an author may select different pen names for different genres. If you write mystery novels and self-help books it would be best to write under different names.

5. Your real name may not suit your genre.

6. You could choose a pen name to suit your branding.

7. If your legal name is too long, complex, difficult to pronounce, or hard to remember it would be sensible to have a pen name.

As you can see authors can easily justify writing under another name. I know one writer who has 40 different pen names.



Before rushing out to choose a pen name think first. Consider the marketing value of the name you choose.

Think about your pen name and decide if it is:

  • a suitable domain name for a website?
  • good for social media profiles?
  • how does it look on a book cover?
  • easy to remember? 
  • suit your genre?
  • good for your branding?


Setting up an Amazon account


When setting up an Amazon account, an author will use their legal name but when listing a book an author can use whatever name they like. Authors can have multiple pen names under the one account.

Author Central, however, only allows an author to use three names.


Choosing a pen name


If you need help choosing a pen name there are pen name generators. Just Google them.

Sometimes it’s not appropriate to have a pen name. If you are an authority in your niche you will not want to have a different identity.

Nonfiction writers are often experts: teachers, speakers, academics. Their market wants to know who they are and how they developed their expertise. 

Beware having too many pen names


Do not fall into the trap of having so many pen names that you cannot market yourself properly. 

Marketing multiple pen names with multiple social media accounts and websites is a big headache. Keep it simple.

Finally, use a pen name when there’s a very good reason to do so and think very carefully before you decide to jump in and write under a pen name.

For access to regular weekly training and tips on how to self-publish your book on Amazon join the Facebook community – Fast Self-Publishing Online.


Fast Self-Publishing Online

Marji Hill

Author and coach 


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