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message 1: by Trinity, PNH Lovers Tech Support & Group creator (new)

Trinity Hanrahan (musesinspire) | 171 comments Mod
I'm just curious, since I'm going to actually get off my butt and do some writing that ISN'T fanfiction...

What made those of you who DID write under a pen name do so? And how did you choose the name? I have some personal reasons as to why I'm thinking about changing mine, but I'd like to get other's feedback.


message 2: by Lisa, R2R Admin & Group Creator (new)

Lisa Goldman | 541 comments Mod
I went back and forth with this as well. I also considered using my first and middle name intials with my last name. I had a short story accepted for publication and just had to decide. I am using my real name.

I do know of at least two authors who wrote under different names (I guess at least one is their real name but I am not certain). These are Rachel Caine (pen name) author of Morganville Vampire series and SJ Davis publisher and author for Crushing Heart and Black Butterfly publication.


message 3: by Carrie (new)

Carrie | 94 comments I write under a pen name. :-) For me, it's all about privacy. I found privacy to be particularly important being a thriller author. I like having the 2 separate lives. I don't have to be "Carrie Salo" if I don't want to (when I am interviewing for day jobs, for example, or joining a group with my kids, or in other social circles, etc.), and I don't have to be the "real" me when I am looking to promote my writing. It lets me be more daring in the writing world, and more private day-to-day.

Additionally, once you start selling your work, making royalties, etc., it's great to have a pen name to put your expenses and income under to keep your taxes separate. Sorry - that's a very unromantic reason to have a pen name. But, I've found it to be helpful, especially with royalty checks and travel expenses, etc.


message 4: by L.M. (new)

L.M. Smith (LadyMuse82) | 176 comments I semi-sorta write under two pen-names.

My real name is Lynsee Lee Smith but when I was 15 a good friend gave me the nickname Muse because I am into all things artistic and because I love horses (the Muse's were charged by Zeus with the task of preserving and protecting the last Pegasus in Greek mythology).

Muse stuck for a VERY long time. All of my friends started calling me Muse, then when I went to college all of my classmates and teachers called me Muse and then when I let college and went to work at WalMart they put Muse on my name tag and most of the people there didn't even know that Muse wasn't my real name.

For more than 10-years of my life the only people I knew that didn't call me Muse were my parents and siblings and I even seriously considered legally changing my middle name TO Muse so that I had a perfectly viable reason for asking people to call me Muse.

At some point, though, word got out. Anyone that I knew before four years ago still calls me Muse but anyone that I've met since now calls me Lynsee (including my current employer, coworkers, and boyfriend).

I had originally intended to publish as either Muse, L. Muse Smith, or Muse Smith but then Celine Dion opened her show here in Vegas and originally called it Muse. When the band called Muse found out they sued her because they had purchased a copyright on the name. Fearing potential future legal trauma, I opted to write as L.M. Smith instead and be better safe than sorry.

I chose not to publish as Lynsee because, quite frankly, I have hated my name since I was two years old and when my mom said "You'll grow out of that, everyone hates their name when they're kids" she lied. I still have it. Passionately. For one thing people read it and pronounce is Lyness for some vexingly obnoxious reason. For another, every Lindsay that has ever been famous in some way (and all of the Lindsay's that I've ever met in person ... and there are A LOT of them these days) are total bitches (Lindsay Wagner being the one exception and whom I was named after). Plus everyone always sees my spelling and has to go on about "oh I like how you spell that, it's so pretty". Yeah, it's a compliment, but it gets OLD FAST!!!!

Ok, moving on. I recently decided to try my hand at erotic fiction for at least one plot that I have in mind (we're taking way more than just a love scene or two wrapped inside of an actual story and more along the lines of literary porn) which, not only do I not want my mother to EVER read, but I don't want ANYONE that I know to even KNOW about it so I have another pen name in mind for if/when I ever write and publish that type of lit.

I know of authors that write different types of fiction and use a different name for each type. Some because they have a very specific target audience / following in each type and don't want fans of their sci-fi work, for example, to be disappointed and pissed when they pick up something from their favorite author and it turns out to be a romance novel.

Some authors also change their name/pen name when they advance. For example, advancing from fanfic to original lit. Some authors have developed a name for being a fanfic writer and they want to start fresh and clean because they think that it will increase their pool of potential readers (50 Shades is a great example because everyone read 50 Shades and then went out looking for the fanfic that the authors did before 50 Shades and were outraged to realize that it was the exact same story with different character names).

There are lots of reasons and absolutely nothing wrong with using a pen-name.


message 5: by B.C. (new)

B.C. (sirrom) | 32 comments I pretty much knew I'd use a pen name from the beginning. For lots of reasons...Privacy, Separating my 'real life' career and my writing, ect.

I crafted my pen name from my first initial, my husband's first initial and a play on my last name. An unintended perk of my pen name is its complete unique-ness. If you 'Google' my real name, a thousand results pop-up and none of them are 'me'. When you search my pen name the first 4 pages are all my writing!


message 6: by S.J. (new)

S.J. Bell (LupLun) | 11 comments Put it to you this way: Would you have sex with strangers without a condom? No, of course not. The consequences of a mistake are huge and long-lasting.

Your pen name, especially if you're self-publishing, is your condom. Say you publish something, and then years later you realize it was a piece of crap and want people to forget it. You can't do that, because everything on the internet exists forever. But you can make a new pen name that doesn't have the baggage of your old one and start over. You can, of course, always tell people about your old work if you think they'll respect it, but you don't have to have old mistakes hanging over your reputation.


message 7: by Dina (new)

Dina Rae (dinarae) | 20 comments my pen name is my real name (first and middle). Dina Rae I tried to get my website dinarae.com but some singer who sings with Eminem took it so I was forced to got with dinarae.co


message 8: by Horace (new)

Horace Ponii (horacetponii) Sirrom wrote: "I pretty much knew I'd use a pen name from the beginning. For lots of reasons...Privacy, Separating my 'real life' career and my writing, ect...."

Ditto. I also don't want my real me to interfere with writer me. Both of us are on GoodReads, but in different groups. The real me won't mention this one, because I don't want anyone to ever think I've created a sock puppet, either. Does anyone else have this issue?


message 9: by B.C. (new)

B.C. (sirrom) | 32 comments Horace wrote: "Sirrom wrote: "I pretty much knew I'd use a pen name from the beginning. For lots of reasons...Privacy, Separating my 'real life' career and my writing, ect...."

Ditto. I also don't want my real ..."


I love how you wrote 'Both of us are on GoodReads'. I feel like I have two separate lives sometimes, but that is by design. I haven't joined GoodReads under my real name. I feel I read/review the same under either name. As long as you don't write faults reviews for yourself then its good to keep things separate.


message 10: by T.P. (new)

T.P. Grish | 102 comments I use a pen name, because I have other another career path and professional life seperate from it, and being a struggling fantasy writer isn't always ideal for business minded employers who Google you.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I use my initials and surname but it helps to keep it seperate from my work as I have a professional job. As I right adult content if I ever wrote YA I would use a completely different name to keep them apart.


message 12: by Jill (new)

Jill James (jill_james) | 19 comments I use a pen name at my husband's request. He is a cop and there are a lot of dangerous people out there. Also, I write romance and my name was already a published author.


message 13: by Lynxie (new)

Lynxie | 16 comments I have decided to use a pen name. I like what people have said about the additional privacy and also if you don't want people in your life to know that you write, you don't have to tell them. :)

It's kind of exciting come up with a pen name that works for you too :D


message 14: by Anna (new)

Anna Rose (sumaire) | 3 comments I write under a pen name because of privacy concerns. As someone else said, I like being able to be myself.

Also, if I wanted to write in another genre, I can keep them separate. I wouldn't want (for example) someone saying "Why does Anna Rose think she can write Crime Fiction?" (just an example) "P.M. Vermithrace", however, could. It keeps people from going into one of my books with set expectations.

No, P.M. Vermithrace is not a "real" (or imaginary) person. The name is simply an example, but then again, you can find some odd stuff on Google, somtimes.

I also think of people like JK Rowling who end up being stalked by fans. Fandom, while usually pretty wonderful, can end up going over to the scary side of things, and I have family and friends to be concerned about.


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