Sunday, November 1, 2015

Reasons to Write Under a Pen Name

There are many reasons why you might want to write under a pen name. My reason for writing under pen names is that I write under multiple genres. To avoid a reader's confusion, I use a different name for each genre. Of course, there are more good reasons to use a pseudonym.

1. Your real name may not fit with the genre you are writing for. If your name is Slugger Ruffbottum, the last thing people are going to suspect is that you write romance novels. Many Kindle ebook writers talk about choosing a pen name that matches their genre. People that write exercise ebooks will write under energetic names. Mystery and detective novels demand a name that is easy to pronounce, but still has an air of sophistication. Romance, horror, and all other works demand a "matching" pen name.

2. Your real name may be difficult to pronounce and remember. What the hell were your parents thinking when they named you? They undoubtedly wanted to give you the best name they could think of, but that doesn't always translate into a good writing name, especially if most people cannot pronounce it easily or it is not a common, easy to remember name.

3. To disguise your gender. Women have a long history of disguising their gender, but as gender roles become more muddled (thank goodness), women and even men don't feel as though they absolutely have to change the gender of their name to write for different genres. In spite of this, I do write a series of books under a man's name and, to be honest, it has been an incredibly freeing experience for me.

4. To protect your privacy. Privacy is important, and there are many reasons as to why you might want to adapt a pen name to protect your privacy. For one, you may not want your friends or family to know that you are a writer. You may also want to avoid stalkers and, if you are writing about a controversial topic, you may want to consider the whacked out people in the world who may want to harm you for speaking your mind.

5. To write for different genres without confusing your readers. This is my main reason for using pen names. Let's say you write a number of books under the general mystery category, but you want to try out contemporary romance. When your established readers buy your books, they expect them to be mysteries. If you also start publishing romance novels under the same name you use to publish mysteries, you will run into the problem of readers who hate romance novels accidentally buying your romance novels. SOme of your mystery readers will feel "betrayed" by you crossing genres. To avoid pissing off your readers, just publish under a pen name and keep your genres separated.

6. Protection. Let's say you are writing a fictional piece that includes similarities to corrupt cops, judges, politicians, or drug dealers where you live. The last thing you want is for them to know that you are basing some of your characters off of them. Do yourself and your family a favor and use a pen name.

7. To hide your writing activity from your employer. Many writers, when starting out, also have a day job. To avoid harassment at work or being accused of having a conflict of interest, use a pseudonym.

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