Pseudonym? Why Bother?

I’ve heard several writers lately talk about their Pseudonym, or their pen name; and, I really don’t see the point of it. I can understand if you’re trying to hide your identity from the government for spewing forth negative things, or revealing government or military secrets, but for fiction? For non-fiction? I just don’t understand.

I’ve heard of cases where writers who have a pseudonym become more famous under their pen name then their actual name. Then, if they want to change genres or something of the sort, they end up having to start over again. This certainly does not appeal to me.

I suppose, in some cases, a writer could be a shy about writing erotica; or they don’t want people to view them as dark and evil for writing novels as such. But, if that’s who you are as a writer then why hide it? Why try to hide who you really are behind a fake name?

The only other reason I can think of for having a pen name would be to come up with a more memorable or clever name. Perhaps a name that will stick with readers.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Do you know anyone who does, and why? If you did write under a pseudonym, what would it be?

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9 thoughts on “Pseudonym? Why Bother?

  1. I’ve seen it mentioned, too. And, yes, for heavy erotica, I could imagine wanting to hide a bit – some people would certainly judge . . . mind you, those who would judge – are they the ones who would read it? And if so, who are they to judge?
    Sometimes I get a little concerned about “privacy”.
    And, sometimes, as a woman, I wonder – should I use my married name, or my maiden name? What if the marriage doesn’t last? (I shouldn’t think it, but I’m practical).
    And then there is a darker side of me that thinks “Don’t you want to say a big **** you to the people who rubbished you in the past?” (Although, I’m sure it’s quite possible to be successful at writing without actually being famous enough for past bullies to notice or care) . . .

  2. I use a penname because I hate my real name. I think it is ugly and doesn’t fit the real me. However, my penname won’t be my penname for much longer; I’m going to change my name to the penname so I can finally live under the name and identity I think I should have. That might be why many writers use a penname. They might want to have a mysterious, “writer-y” name on their books, or they’re taking this chance to rename themselves as they see fit.

  3. It is possible that the writer would like to remain mildly anonymous. Or to keep there loved ones sheltered from possible weirdness, stalkers and the like. They may have a job which requires a level of thoughtfulness about how much of their outside of work life they want publicized. It certainly is not unreasonable in this day and age to want a modicum of privacy, even though you are putting a part of you out on public display.

  4. You are right that pen names certainly end up complicating things. I wonder if many authors regret insisting on one, in hindsight. I don’t know. I was obsessed with the idea of pen names from a very young age. Not entirely sure why. They just really intrigued and excited me. I always wanted to have the opportunity to pick my own name, just for the heck of it. Also, I had it in my head that while I wanted to get rich and famous, I didn’t necessarily want the real me to ever suffer all the things that come with fame and the limelight. Not that I’m actually ever going to be some celebrity, realistically, but just in case (and wouldn’t that be nice), that’s kind of where my thinking came from. I always wanted the option of being able to be rich and famous and also be my normal un-famous self.

  5. I think pen names are for certain circumstances. A very private job, you write erotica and either a: teach at the middle school/high school level or b: are surrounded by people who won’t take that very well (I knew someone who was like the nicest woman in the world and when her family found out she was writing erotica she was all but excommunicated). Also if you want privacy or you don’t like your real name, or your real name would look really cheesy in your genre (like you write erotica and your name is Candice Woodsworth — yeah, no).

    But I think most general fiction authors don’t need a pen name. I debated using one for a while and decided to stick with my real name. I don’t care if someone knows. I’m a writer, I’ll never be that famous (if even well known at all). Haha.

  6. Daphne is my real first name. Shadows is NOT my real last name. For me, its only due to the fact that last names change so often because I’m a female. Divorce one for my mom; name change. Divorce two for my mom; name change pretty soon. When I get married; name change. I don’t want the last name of my writing name to be something that I can’t stand, despise, and want to take a blow torch to. Although, once I take on my mom’s maiden name I wouldn’t want to do that, but still. I want the name on my books to be ME; MINE. MY NAME. So, I’m using my real first name and came up with a last name. It actually is part of one of my nicknames anyway. Does that make sense to you? (wow – that sounded snotty! I just meant, is that a reason that makes sense to you?)

  7. If and when I get published I will be using one. Two reasons….firstly, there is already an author with my full name and secondly, if you google my shortened name i share it with a very famous British murder victim lol 😦


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