Pen Names

When I first started writing, I was determined to use a pen name. There were three reasons for this 1) I didn’t want to use my married name because I’m divorced (but kept the name for my children’s sake), 2) I lacked self-confidence, and 3) I didn’t want the people close to me knowing that I’d written a book.

The first two reasons speak for themselves but the last reason is a bit strange. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about this even more.

When I delve into the reasoning, I have to admit that I was scared. First and foremost, I was scared that they would hate the book, which relates back to the lack of self-confidence. I really didn’t care what other people thought but I didn’t think I could handle my own family giving me that “it’s awful” look. Secondly, I was scared that they might see too much of me in the main character because the main character was me but with a different name. I didn’t want my family and friends finding out all the secrets I’d manage to keep in the closet all those years.

Hence, I chose a pen name. A name I could hide behind.

However, years have passed since then and my view on this topic has changed, and the confidence I have in myself has grown. Suddenly, I no longer care what anyone thinks and I no longer want to use the pen name. In fact, I stopped using the pen name almost a year ago, but I never really felt completely happy with that decision until recently. The manuscript starring me is no longer looking for a publisher either and I believe that plays a large role in all this.

Whether we use a pen name or not isn’t really an issue, but I believe the reason you chose to use a different name should be thought through carefully. For instance, an author who dabbles in many genres might want to use many names – that’s an acceptable practice in the publishing industry. An author with a name that is really hard to say or spell might consider using something that is easier to remember – this is a good marketing ploy. An author with a surname that starts with “W” might use a surname that is between the letters “D” and “L” so that their books are placed at eye level, instead of at the readers feet. However, an author who uses a pen name solely because they don’t want people pointing at them and whispering, should probably admit that they aren’t ready to be published yet.

I won’t use my real name, my married name, because I don’t want to but I’m proud to use my birth name – Karen Lee Field. What name will you use?

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