Mar 21, 2011

Posted by in Question | 27 Comments

Question – What Would Your Pen Name Be?

Pen Names. Many authors use them (more than I realized actually, as you’ll soon find out). But is the only reason they use a pen name because they have crazy hippie parents who gave them a god awful name and using said name would only get them laughed at by the entire publishing industry and the mass reading public?

I have no interest in becoming an author. None. I’ll just leave that to the professionals. But for some reason I sometimes find myself wondering if I were a published author, would I use my own name? And if I used a pen name, what would I use?

I asked my husband what he would pick as a pen name for himself if he were to write a book. I was expecting something…odd. After all, this is the man who purposely uses the pseudonym “Stanley Dimitrius” when writing for my blog. His answer actually stunned me. Jason said his pen name would be “Harrison Rooke”. Wow that’s…normal and really good!

While on Twitter, I spotted Seleste deLaney. I knew that “Seleste” was a pen name (her real (maiden) name is Julie Particka) so I asked her why she used a pen name. She said:

“I write under Julie for my YA and I wanted to be sure there was a very clear distinction between that and my adult stuff, so two different names. As for why Seleste, it is my Pagan name and a variation on the name I’ve been known as online for about 10 years.”

That reason, wanting to separate their YA persona and their Adult persona, is quite common. So is using two different writing names when writing two different grown-up genres. Ann Aguirre is a great example of this. This comes from Ann’s FAQs on her Ava Gray site:

“Why are you writing romance under a pseudonym?
Primarily it’s for branding purposes. That way, if you find a book with my real name, Ann Aguirre, on it, you know it’s sci-fi or fantasy. If you pick up an Ava Gray book, you can be sure it’s romance.”

I found all this very interesting.

Later that evening, I spotted a few more authors on Twitter and decided to harass ask them “If you were to use a Pen Name, what would it be?”

The first to answer was Jennifer Estep. She said:

“I have no idea. Probably something overly elaborate and romantic. LOL


Next up, Kelly Meding:

Ah, but if I told you, then I couldn’t use that actual pen name in the future. If ever I chose to write under a pen name. 😉

*cough* smart ass *cough*

Larissa Ione was next to answer the question.

“Hmm… I guess it would depend on the genre. I’ve always liked Brenna Quinn though. It’s a play on my son’s name. :)”

I wrote her back telling her that I loved that name and she wrote:

“Thanks! I’m thinking about using it for my YA series (if it sells!)”

What’s this? Interesting tidbit there…

The next two were my biggest surprises. When I asked Zoë Archer my pen name question, she answered:

“Hah! Zoë Archer IS my pen name!”

Well, crap. I felt like I should have known that. (Should I have known that?) I followed up by asking her why she writes as “Zoë Archer” and if she finds it strange when people call her by her pen name.

“Shelving. It’s weird, but I’m getting used to it. Still, I wish I’d gone with Ami instead of Zoë, just to keep things simple.”

She uses Archer for shelving purposes! Very clever. (And I like Zoë personally. :))

Finally, I saw Carolyn Crane online. I’m always asking her questions. Always. I’m surprised she hasn’t blocked me yet. Well, she did “accidentally” unfollow me once…but that’s a story for another time…

When I asked her my question, she said:

“Carolyn Crane IS my pen name!! I wanted my pen name to be Carolyn Jean von Kruik (w/umlauts). Pub said no!! Interestingly, one of the objections was that the cjvk one was too long to be on a cover. ”

Crap again! *heads desk* So I switched tactics and asked her why.

“Because I write advertising as a freelancer and so, prospective clients Google me, and I didn’t want them to find dirty vampiric blog posts! Plus, it’s just a male dominated competitive field. I probably don’t need to worry, but I like to separate my lives. I’m one of those types.”

So there you have it. Why use a pen name? To let readers know what type of book they’ll be reading, to be found first on the book shelf and to not let your potential clients know that you write smut on the weekends. All good and understandable reasons.

So ALL this leads me to my Question to you this week: If you were to write a book and decided against using your own name, what would your pen name be?

  1. Diane Laurens
    I don’t plan on ever becoming an author, except maybe in a fantasy (like you said, leave it to the pros!). I picked Diane because it sounds romantic to me, and Laurens because my deceased favorite aunt read Stepanhie Laurens. And together the initials are D.L.!

  2. Scruffy Overlook because that would be my pron name. First name is your pet, second name is the street you live on 😉

  3. I think 95% of authors use pen names.

    My pen name – Flowers Brandon.


  4. Penny Watson is my pen name. But I wish I could add a middle name….Ophelia. So my initials would be POW! 2nd choice, Penelope Patricia Paddlepuss. Alliteration is always good.

  5. DL – Love it. Really, I love it!

    Katie – So going by your method, my Pen Name would be Flowers St. Isidore. LOL

    Mandi – Of course it would be. *g* 😉

    Penelope – POW! Excellent! (by the way, you made me spit out my chocolate milk. lol)

  6. OMG, going by Katiebabs method, my pen name sounds like a place. Vegas Kentucky. So…I’d be some weird town in Kentucky…

  7. Chrissie A says:

    I personally run into the smut writers the most LOL. Everybody likes to write and read it as long as nobody knows who they are.. I have a few friends that resemble that remark. *you know who you are*

    Take care, Chrissie

  8. If I went with Katiebabs method my pen name would be Mocha Vanguard or Sebastian Pine, but I’m glad I stuck with the pen name I made up:
    Qwillia Rain (a mixture of my first last and part of my grandmother’s maiden name)
    Had to use a pen name due to the genre I write and the fact that I used to teach elementary school computers.

    But I’m using my real name for the YA I’m working on.

  9. I did an online name generator. (Stripper name) Here is my pen name:

    Bunny Tickleshock

    Yep, I like it and I’m sticking with it.

  10. Larissa – That’s not so bad…but it really sounds like a pen name! LOL

    Chrissie – ‘Do you use a pen name?’ would make an interesting survey! I think the results would surprise me..

    Quillia – I love it when there is a sentimental twist to the name chosen!

    Sophia – LMAO!

  11. Great post! I really have to think about this one.
    But I would go with Quinn Sheridan and I have no idea why

  12. Raonaid Luckwell says:

    Raonaid Luckwell is my pen name. It has taken me quite a number of years to settle. I’ve always kept the “Raonaid” part, looking for that other name that would compliment it. Then one night I was feeling sentimental, missing my grandmother (who passed away for close to 13 years now) and I decided to use her maiden name.

    Raonaid is scots gaelic for my birthday.

  13. Raonaid Luckwell says:


  14. Hm….no idea at all. perhaps with my own name 🙂 Oh perhaps I would translate my last name cos Americans always inserts a C in it since that is how it’s spelled across the pond

  15. I’m at the tail end of writing a YA book and I think the next will be a adult one, I like the idea of a different pen name for each style of writing. I’m having a hard time thinking of one – maybe I should find one of those “what would your porn name be?” quizzes and use that…

    Check out my blog sometime: Escape by Fiction – Good reading!!!

  16. Judi – I like it! Very pleasant sounding name. 🙂

    Raonaid – That is a really sweet story. 🙂

    blodeuedd – If you went with you true name, you wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting it! 😉

    Sarah – I think I need to check out that ‘porn name’ thing too! Just for kicks and giggles. *g*

  17. It’s surprising how many authors use pen names though it makes sense, I would think part of the thrill woudl be seeing your name on a book. That being said I wouldn’t use mine, to long and awkward, I’d go with Kelly Raemond. Kelly was the name of my invisible childhood friend LOL and Raemond from my middle name.

    My porn name would be rather dissappointing – Blair Fotheringham

  18. Raonaid Luckwell says:

    My porn name: Chandelier LaBouche

  19. To use KT’s method I’d be Muffy Eagle. It sounds like I might be a Native American exotic dancer. Pardon me if I don’t use that pseudonym when I write the Great American Novel…..unless I write about a Native American exotic dancer.

  20. My porn name would be quite a good pen name I think. Rikki Redcliffe. If I wanted to be a writer I’d totally have a pen name mainly because I don’t like my actual name. Pretty lame reason but I bet it would be fun coming up with a name.

  21. My porn name by the whole pets name and street name would be Joe Cherry…now I’d heard that you use your middle name and your street name which is funny cuz at one time I would have been Lynn Thurston and now I’d be Lynn Cherry.

    Pen name would have Lynn as the first name but no clue on the last name!

  22. Oh, great post! Funny. And I love the reporterly-journey style. And, for KB’s method, I’d be Tiberius Dupont, or Oblio Dupont. That sounds more Lit Fic to me. Harrison Rooke is an awesome name!

  23. Such a creative bunch! I think I’d have to make my pen name a male sounding name, that way I’ll stand out in the UF genre. 😛

    And my pron name is Johnson Glenloch … hell that could be my pen name! 😀

  24. LOL Love this topic!

    I find myself exchanging email with authors sometimes and then find out it was a pen name and feel so foolish to be calling her with her pen name LOL

    as for myself… I’d use:

    Sarah Cohen

    Sarah is my Jewish name and Cohen was my great-grandma’s las name that I didn’t get, but always wanted to have =)

  25. Evolet Yvaine IS my pen name. I’m an independent YA author who plans to start writing adult romance/erotica, sooooo…I definitely want to keep that a secret from the other PG-13 genre. I had a couple of names in mind, but liked Evolet Yvaine the best. I watch a lot of movies and just combined the heroine’s names from 10,000 B.C. and STARDUST.

  26. Shelleyrae – “Kelly Raemond” is a GREAT pen name! And that it comes from your childhood um, friend is really cute!

    Raonaid – LOL

    Dot – Muffy Eagle eh? Yeah…I think I’d find something else too. lol

    Ally – First, I like your real name. Second, you porn/pen name is good!

    Deanna – My middle name is Lynn too!

    Carolyn – Really, thank you for putting up with my pestering you all the time… I think you should forget “Carolyn Crane” and definitely go with “Oblio Dupont”. Oh wait, you need a “K” in there somewhere… How about “Obliok Dupont”? 😉

    Jess – Your porn/pen name is awesome. It really does sound great. Mine is “Slappy Banger” @-@

    Larissa – “Sarah Cohen” is wonderful. You should totally use that!

    Evolet – I like your pen name – and what a clever way of coming up with it! 🙂

  27. Haha, Lynn is the best middle name ever then! 😛

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