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The Pen Name Quandary

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Oct 29, 2014 5:52:41 AM

I have a secret. It's not really a closely held secret. In fact, I tell everybody my secret. I do now, anyway. There was a time when I was tight-lipped about it. I wouldn't dare utter a word about my secret for fear it would ruin my writing career.


My not-so-well-kept secret is that I write under three pen names. I do so for various reasons. First and foremost, the three names represent three different genres. I didn't want to confuse and disappoint readers of one genre when they read a book I had written in a completely different genre. Secondly, my primary pen name creates books written for the young adult market. My two other pen names write books that contain material not suitable for young adults. I decided early on that the responsible thing for me to do would be to keep those worlds separated.


In the beginning, I didn't tell anyone of my "secret" identities. I simply published and kept quiet. The problem is that I had to market those other books, and my main source of marketing comes from social media interaction. I tried creating separate online personas for one of the secondary pen names, but that tactic didn't suit me. I only know how to be me. Being two different author brands was time consuming and daunting.


With the multi-brand route no longer an option, I came clean with my readers and announced my other author names. I stressed my reasons for going undercover and made all the appropriate disclaimers about the material not being suitable for younger readers. I thought there would be a backlash from parents and my more conservative fans, but I was surprised when they offered their support and positive feedback on the books.


I know there a lot of authors out there secretly writing under a pen name. You may be doing so for the same reasons I did. You may also be frustrated trying to juggle more than one author brand. If you're finding it as stressful and overwhelming as I did, I say it might be time to reveal your secret and trust your readers. They are a sophisticated bunch that, if given all the information up front, can make their own reading decisions.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Dec 8, 2014 11:35 AM sarahalbarn94    says:

I know what you mean. I have two pen names. One for my poetry, and the other for my novels. I'm reconsidering that, as I have one novel that I really want to publish with my other pen name.


However on my author website, I do mention briefly that I have another pen name. I haven't had much feedback on the big reveal, but that's probably due to the fact that I don't have many fans, myself.

Dec 8, 2014 2:09 PM RolandDenzel    says:

A good solution could be to use the same name, different first name or initials. Roland Denzel, RJ Denzel, etc. to keep things like young adult and more adult books separate, but still clearly yours.

Dec 8, 2014 5:18 PM pattiecake    says:

I also write under a pen name but for a completely different reason than those given. Why I do so is the number one question I get from people who know the "real" me and the answer is: My real name is ugly. It sounds like something you'd order at a concession stand..."Yeah, give me a corn dog, a frito pie, and a couple of them pattieballs."


Pattie Ball is NOT a pretty name. Case in point, I couldn't name a child Crystal or Cannon...and certainly not Harrison...because someone would call him Harry!!! You can see my dilemma. So, I went with  my middle name....Ann...and my husband's middle name...Everett. I share my middle name  with my daughter and we gave our son the same middle name as his dad's...Yeah, in  Texas we're so vain, we name our children after ourselves!


So, now my secret is really wasn't worth keeping!


~Ann Everett

Dec 8, 2014 6:37 PM Greywolf13    says:

I've got nothing to hide in my writing.  I write in more genres than names I could ever come up with. Besides, I may forget one of those names, and then have to go on a search for one of my lost identities. :-}  I don't hide who I am in any of my books, as I want my readers to see all of my work if they so desire.