Why Do Writers Use Pen Names?

Source: Why Do Writers Use Pen Names? – Bryn Donovan

These are the seven reasons listed in Donovan’s blogpost

  1. Someone pretty famous already has your name.
  2. You want to own Google and Amazon searches.
  3. Your gender is a marketing liability.
  4. Your name isn’t that marketable, period.
  5. You just don’t like your real name.
  6. You write more than one genre.
  7. You have professional or personal reasons for distancing yourself from your work.

Donovan comments that she chose the pseudonym Bryn Donovan because she discovered she shares her legal name with a popular porn star and didn’t want confusion so she felt free to choose a name that she liked the sound of.

I hadn’t really thought about number five probably because I truly love my name and say a little “thank you” to my parents for it whenever I hear a clunker or see one roll by in credits.Now I suppose if someone had a pedestrian name and wanted something more exotic they could use it as a pseudonym rather than changing their name and having to live with it every day. When I worked on the 900 number Psychic Line most of the other Psychics used pseudonyms but I used my first name. I’d often have people ask me at the end of a call, “So, What’s your real name?” and I’d say Inga is my real name and they’d say, “Oh,” all dissapointed sounding like we must not have bonded or I’d have told them my real name.

Number six reminded me of the Summer I was about 14 and how shocked I was to realize the two of my favorite authors at the time, Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt and my Grandma’s fave Philippa Carr were the same writer, Eleanor Hibbert. I figured this out by following the trail in the “see also” notes at the bottom of the cards, yep real index cards in the drawers of the card catalog at the library, not on computers yet. Hibbert wrote several books a year in different genres and used a different pseudonym, or nom de plume, for each genre. Grandma took some convincing, since she only read from a couple of genres, mysteries and family sagas, she didn’t really get how someone could write more than one.

Here is a chart I found of authors identified by their known pen names. Link  Some of these are surprising, C.S. Lewis, Isaac Asimov, Ann Rice and Anton Chekhov all used different pen names for writing in other genres. Others have more of the reasons you would expect… or that I would expect anyway. Check them out.

Here’s that link again: Wiki list of pen names