Some authors like to use pen names when writing books,
especially fiction. Below is a Q&A email I answered for an author who wanted to
use a pen name ó and had a lot of questions on how to use a pen name successfully.
I have just finished writing a novel and will be publishing it myself
under a pen name. I chose to go the pen name route for reasons of privacy and
also for marketing reasons (so people don't get confused if I ever write other
genres like theology, children's books or if my 1st book bombs and I want to start over).
I will be publishing under the name of Pen Name. I will be myself, Real
Name, as the publisher of My Publishing Company. Having a pen name is relatively
easy if I just sit at home and don't go out. But since you advocate that authors
interview and speak and sign books, I can't see writing under a pen name
working. Do I just give up on it and write under my real name? Here are my questions:
Q. How do introduce myself to my audience, radio talk show hosts, conference
attendees? "Hi, I'm Mike." "Hi, I'm Lee" or "Hi I'm Mike, but that's not my real name."
A. If you have a pen name, you publicize and speak using that pen name.
Q. Will I violate a trust with my audience or reviewers if I keep my identity a secret?
A. You violate no trust by keeping your true identity secret. Your cover can state
that you are using a pen name, but you don't have to provide your real name if you don't want to.
Q. If I tell a interviewer my real name is Lee, will they agree to refer to me as
Mike during the interview?
A. Don't tell anyone your real name. Focus on being and promoting your pen name.
Don't confuse them by giving them two names.
Q. If I go on TV or speak in public, how should I handle it if someone recognizes me?
A. If someone recognizes you, simply tell them you write and promote under your pen name.
Q. What other reasons have authors employed pen names for?
A. Some writers have employed pen names because they write in two genres and want
to keep the two separate. Others use pen names because they are so productive
that a publisher would never publish all their books under one name (for example, J. D. Robb).
Q. Do you have any anecdotes from other authors who had these problems?
A. They are not problems, so I have no anecdotes. Using a pen name really is not a problem.
Q. Can you give me the names of any other authors who might have some advice for me?
A. Don't worry about a pen name. You are way over concerned. Simply write and
promote under the pen name and don't make a big deal about it.
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