How to come up with a great pen name

Should you decide that you want to use a pen name, the question then arises as to what you pseudonym should be. You’ll probably want to brainstorm several names then think about which one sounds best before going with it. After all, this name will be on your book’s cover, page, and a dozen (if not more) other places forever.

So how do you come up with a pen name? There are lots of possibilities:
• Easy to remember – One word of your name should have only one syllable and the other word of your name have two syllables, as in “George Orwell,” so it’s easy to spell and remember.
• Gender neutral initials – Teen novels like “Harry Potter” used to be read predominately by boys. So Jo Rowling became “J.K. Rowling.”
• Something symbolic – Samuel Clemens used “Mark Twain” from Mississippi River steamboat jargon. Don’t get cute or showy, though, with your pen name (Remember, a bad real name is one that sounds silly, and so is a bad pen name.).
• Think marketing – Why not sandwich your book between the names of two bestselling authors on a bookstore shelf? Of course, since most book sales are now done online, this shouldn’t be a primary factor in choosing a pen name.
• Combination of above – Perhaps pick a name with three syllables in it while going with one that’s gender neutral, such as Quinn Fawcett.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.