How Many Consonants Correct Would A 3 Year Old Have Should Authors Use a Pen Name?

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Should Authors Use a Pen Name?

The use of a pen name may not seem like a marketing problem for authors, but it really is. I’ve worked with authors who used pen names, and I’ve always found it to be a big barrier when it comes to effectively marketing their book.

The reason for this is simple: when you’re trying to market your book through your platform … friends, family, co-workers, people who enjoy your writing in general … they don’t know you by your pen name. They know you as you. If, suddenly, you use a completely different name, how will the community members of your platform find you unless you tell them, and doesn’t that defeat the purpose of using a pen name in the first place? For example, if you wanted your college alumni newsletter to mention the fact that you published a book, they won’t know you by your pen name, and your classmates won’t know who you are either.

Very few of the authors I spoke with who decided to use pen names changed their names for a good reason. They just thought it was something authors had to do. There are times to use a pen name, but they are few and far between.

Using a pen name makes sense if:

1. Your book would cause embarrassment to your friends or family. Perhaps your book is about a very sensitive topic that would bring ridicule or embarrassment to the people in your life, such as substance or sexual abuse.

2. You are in the Witness Protection Program. Okay, that might be a bit extreme, but if you have a REALLY good reason to keep your true identity a secret, like protecting your life, family, job, etc., it might be worth considering a pen name.

3. Your real name is not for sale. You’d have to have a name with 13 consonants in a row to really qualify for this one, but if your name can’t be pronounced by the average person on the street, you might consider a pen name. Otherwise, the name your parents gave you will work just fine.

4. You want to mask your gender. This little trick is mostly used by men who write romance novels. For some reason, women prefer to read romance novels written by other women, not some 50-year-old guy wearing a flannel shirt and smoking cigars.

Stephen King wrote four novels under the pen name, Richard Bachman. It wasn’t his idea. At the time, his publisher felt that readers would not buy more than one novel a year from the same writer. Pearl Gray changed his name to Zane Grey, because he felt readers wouldn’t buy a western novel by a guy named Pearl (he was probably right).

For the most part, the use of a pen name seemed to me to be more of a vanity thing than anything…like getting a license plate that spelled out something nice. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but most people don’t understand it.

Marketing a book is hard enough. Why make it difficult by hiding your achievement of writing a book?

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