What’s In a Name
Authors for a lot of reasons sometimes choose to go by another name or pen name. Some of those reasons include having a legal name that is difficult to spell or pronounce, having a legal name that is too common, having someone publish with the same name before you, writing in multiple genres, wanting to keep your private life private, wanting to hide one’s writing life. Some authors who have been extremely successful in writing under a pen name are J.K Rowling, Steven King, and Ann Rice.
To create a pen name, start by brainstorming. You can connect your name to a deeper meaning, browse through baby name books or use a pen name generator. After you choose your name, you’ll want to research to see if it’s available. Don’t use the name of someone famous. Research the name registration listings. Avoid using an actual person’s name. Check the pen name’s website domain. Purchase the rights to your pen name. Let your publisher know you’re doing business as your pen name.
Here are some more things you should know. You can register copyrights under a pen name. You can sign a contract using a pen name. You can’t use another author’s real name as your pen name (We already covered that.) You can’t defame your enemies using a pen name and avoid liability. A pen name will not allow you to avoid paying taxes. Last, a pen name will not prevent a breach of contract liability. Now you know the legal stuff, not that I’m a lawyer or a legal expert. All I did was a little research on Google. So, please get proper legal representation if you have questions.
So, let’s talk marketing when you have a pen name. It’s still possible to market effectively books under a pen name. You just need to avoid public appearances. Opting instead for a virtual blog tour or online publicity is a much better idea for an indie author. If you are traditionally published, you will have to work out with your publisher what kind of public presence you will have. Define your strategy by growing an email list through promos, guest blogging, and Facebook ads or publishing fast and frequently. Choose the best path and implement the strategy. Be consistent and monitor what’s working and what’s not.
Remember, ultimately and most importantly it’s about your readers, not you. It’s about offering them something wonderful. What does your reader expect what do they care about? In all actuality, it probably isn’t your name, but it’s about what you have to say. Do you really think they care about what your name is? Probably not and not if you’ve done your job and connected with them in your writing.
That leaves your headshot. You don’t have to appear in your headshot. You can use a stock image, or you can use a cartoon image or other image that represents your brand and platform.
So that’s the skinny on pen names. If you found this helpful, give me a thumbs up please subscribe and share this on your social media platforms. Remember, anything that looks like it may be information is clearly serendipity and please get professional advice before you listen to anything I have to say. I love you guys. Keep writing.
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