Should you use a pen name for your book?

Your name will appear all over your book – the cover, the title pages, the preface, the author’s bio, probably on a at least half of the book’s main text. So before you actually start putting the book together, you might want consider taking up a pen name.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of having a pen name.

Among the advantages are:
• Cooler, catchier name than your own – If your name is difficult to remember or spell or if it sounds silly or obscene, then a pen name might be right for you.
• Your name already is in use – Perhaps someone famous already has the same name (or a similar sounding one) as you. To create your own identity, you’ll want to come up with your own name.
• Allows you to write books you wouldn’t normally be associated with – For example, romance books sell better if written by a female, and the same is true of westerns written by men. That doesn’t mean a man can’t write a good romance or that a woman can’t pen a great western, but there does seem to be a bias among readers.
• Branding – If you plan to write a series of books about outdoors activities and also publish mystery novels, selecting a pen name for one of the series will help create a more unique sense of who you are as a writer.
• Conceal your identity for business purposes – Say you’ve created your own publishing company but also are an author (er, the only author?) that this company publishes. This can make getting publicity difficult.
• Privacy – You may simply have no desire for people to know who you are as you despise being bothered by the press and nosy family members who think you’re now rich that you’ve published a book.

Likewise, there are several disadvantages to a pen name:
• Nobody knows you are – You wanted to be famous author, right? Most people at your high school class reunion won’t realize that you’ve succeeded if you’re using a pen name (I know, this is vanity).
• No credit for what you’ve written – Readers and critics alike typically won’t recognize you for the breadth of your talent if you publish some of your books under a pen name.