RC writes in and asks:
What is your opinion on writing articles with a pen name versus a real name?
First a definition: A “pen name” is a pseudonym created by an author for numerous reasons. Also can be referred to as a “nom deplume,” “nom de guerre” or “literary double.”
Authors tell me that their biggest reason for using a pen name is to not confuse readers…similar to my theory on Authors with Multiple Brands.
My advice: When possible, you create strength, confidence and credibility when you write articles under your OWN name, especially if you’re driving visitors directly to your primary website.
With that said, here are some legitimate reasons to write articles with a pen name:
- You want to appeal to a regional demographic and by making your pen name more like common names in the region, your content will be better received as an insider.
- Your real name is way too difficult to remember, spell or pronounce.
- Gender issues: If you think your message will be taken more seriously if written with one gender or the other, go for it.
- Prolific writers syndrome: To avoid over-exposure of your real name, you can use pen names to write about different viewpoints that might conflict with each other.
- Different pen names for different niches that you are an expert… even though I like the idea of variations of your real name instead for this purpose. All depends on how diverse the areas of expertise are.
- You hired a ghostwriter and want to isolate your real name from works produced by others for under a ‘work for hire’ contract. Personally, I’d have a problem hiring a ghostwriter to write content that is later published under my own name, but I wouldn’t have a problem hiring a ghost writer to publish works under a unique pen name that I created.
What to avoid when choosing a Pen Name:
- Don’t try to assume a pseudonym similar to a current expert in your niche that you are trying to emulate. The reader will see right through this rouse.
- Don’t put marketing or descriptor words into your pen name, such as “Suzy Homemaker” or “Gary Pipewrench” or “John Redline” or “Sally Mortgagemaker.”
- When someone says you should adopt a pen name, don’t use “Ballpoint” for your pen name. //that’s a joke//
- If you are the buyer of exclusive rights content, be sure that you are the sole creator of the chosen pen name. ie: Don’t let your ghostwriter choose your pen name.
- Don’t use a handle for your pen name. ie: Your pen name should sound like a real human name.
Anyone else have anything to add to either of these lists?