Definition: Pen Name – A pseudonym created by a writer. Also called a “nom de plume,” “nom de guerre” or “literary double.”
The practice of writing under one or more “alter egos” is nothing new to the literary community or the online world. Yet many authors are still unsure if the use of a pseudonym is appropriate for them. Their concerns stem from a variety of ethical considerations as well as a lack of understanding about the correct and effective use of a literary double.
Use a Pen Name:
- When you want to appeal to a regional demographic. By making your pen name more like common names in the region, your content will be better received as an insider.
- When your real name is way too difficult to remember, spell or pronounce.
- When your message will be taken more seriously if written by the other gender.
- When you want to avoid over-exposure of your real name or to write from potentially conflicting viewpoints.
- When you need to create different Expert Author pen names for diversely different niches. In this case, a simple variation on your name is often enough to prevent confusion.
- When you’ve hired a ghostwriter and want to isolate your real name from works produced by them under a ‘work for hire’ contract.
What to Avoid:
- Don’t try to assume a pseudonym similar to a current notable expert in your niche.
- Don’t put marketing or descriptor words into your pen name, such as “Suzy Homemaker” or “Gary Pipewrench.”
- Don’t try to be cute or punny with names like “Ivanna B. Rich” or “Phillip DeTank.”
- If you are the buyer of exclusive rights content, don’t let your ghostwriter choose your pen name.
- Don’t use a nickname or “handle” – your pen name should sound like a real human name.
Remember: When possible, use a variation of your own name. 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. Click here for a few tips on how to create multiple variations of your real name.
Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences with alternate pen names.