Since I've started self-publishing myself, I've often wondered whether I should use a pen name or at what point I would consider using a pen name.
When you decide that you want to start self-publishing, there are plenty of things to consider. Things like who will design your cover, how you'll market your book, how you'll convert your book into an appropriate Kindle-ready file etc, etc. Sometimes, the list can feel quite endless.
Deciding whether to use a pen name or not, is kinda important.
This is something you need to give some thought to BEFORE you start publishing your books. Because once they are published, it's difficult to change the author name without losing sales history.
To Use a Pen Name or Not
There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself first before you make the decision.
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- Would your self-publishing ‘life' interfere or impact your ‘normal' life?
- Do you plan to write in more than one genre or niche? (think fiction vs non-fiction etc)
- Do you plan to write in a genre that is gender specific or has ‘expectations' about the authors?
- Have you self-published before and have a history of ‘fails'?
- Is your name the same as an existing author?
- Do you hate your name?
- Are you writing for competing publications in the same field?
These are all valid questions that you need to consider when deciding on when to use a pen name or not.
Another way to check is to simply do a gut check and see how you feel about it.
If you have any concerns at all, it's probably best to go with a pen name, unless the following points are one or all of your reasons for choosing a pen name over your own name:
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- You simply want a more exotic name – often leads to cheesy, inappropriate names – avoid at all costs!
- You don't want anyone to know that you're the true author because you're ashamed of the writing – it's probably better to revamp the writing than change your name!
- You don't want any of your family or friends to know that you're writing about them! Um, don't! You can't avoid legal repercussions even if you use a pen name, so just don't do it. Or if you feel compelled to write, make these people more fictional than real…
My full name, for anyone who likes to stalk people on Google, is Annelise Cartwright 🙂 Annelise can be misspelled so often, which is why I've gone by Lise for many, many years. I use this for my non-fiction work.
It also ties in with this website, what I write about from a non-fiction perspective, so I didn't feel the need to use a pen name.
I'm looking to branch out into fiction work next year and I'll be writing under my maiden name, Lise Carter, because I don't want to mix fiction and non-fiction.
If you're self-publishing on Amazon etc, then it can be confusing to your fans if they see you writing in both genres.
I also look at it another way – it's like having two businesses, and the type of material I'll share with each group is going to be very different.
[Tweet “it can be confusing to your fans if they see you writing in both genres.”]
What are your thoughts? Do you have faith in your own writing to step out and put your name to what you write or will you choose a pen name to keep things separate?
Share your thoughts below!
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