It is entirely up to the individual whether or not to employ a pen name or pseudonym. Unless you share a name with a well-known author or celebrity, there is no right or incorrect response. Just keep in mind that if you do use one, you must be willing to adopt a new persona (even if it is extremely similar to your own identity).
The main advantage of a pen name is that it gives you complete control over your work. You can avoid political controversies or religious debates that might affect your reputation as an author. You can also write under different names for different audiences. Some authors even make multiple livings writing for different markets under different names!
There are several reasons why people choose to use a pen name. Some common ones include: wanting to protect their privacy, avoid conflict with another writer, and earn additional income. There are many others too; we will discuss some more specific cases below.
Using a pen name is simple enough. When you register your book with a publisher or self-publish it on Amazon, they will need your full legal name. After that, whenever you want to address someone by their first name only, just spell out the full last name when speaking or typing. No one will ever know that "Jane Smith" is actually you!
Now, some may question how anyone could earn an extra income by writing under different names. The most common way of doing this is by publishing eBooks.
Choosing a pseudonym may be as difficult as naming a character, especially when the character is yourself. A pen name that is a version of your actual name, such as a middle name, nickname, or initials, is the most basic. Many writers merely alter their surname so they don't have to remember which first name to use at conferences. Some choose names that are completely different from their own; for example, Jane Austen wrote under the pen name "Mrs. Austen.".
If you can imagine someone else using the name, it doesn't matter how you spell it or what letters it starts with, then it's available. For example, "Jane Eyre" was already taken by another writer so Charlotte Brontë used her middle name instead. Sometimes two people will take the same name, like "John Lennon" and "Paul McCartney." In other cases, the same name may have many meanings in different languages, like "Michael" meaning "God Is My Judge." Or it may be an abbreviation for something else, like "Dick" for Richard Nixon or "JD" for John Doe.
The choice of a pen name is very personal. It should reflect who you are, but not everyone will understand right away. For example, "George Orwell" might mean something familiar to British readers, but "Orwellian" is a new word used to describe totalitarian government surveillance programs.
The most common error authors make when selecting a pen name is failing to evaluate the marketing worth of a pen name before making a selection. In summary, the pseudonym you select for your work can have a significant influence on your book and platform, since it becomes your author brand. So before you pick a nickname for yourself, think about what kind of image you want to project and if it matches with the books you plan to write.
Your pen name should be unique so that it doesn't conflict with other writers' trademarks or infringe on any copyrights. It should also be attractive and memorable so that readers will want to learn more about you and your work. A great pen name makes your writing career easier by reducing confusion among audiences who may know only one writer with the same first name. Finally, your pen name should reflect you as an author: interesting enough to warrant further exploration, but not so specific or obscure that readers won't understand its meaning.
There are many ways to choose a pen name. You could choose it randomly, like some novelists do, or you could base it on something personal such as your favorite movie star or musician. The important thing is that you come up with a name that isn't already in use by someone else. If you do find another writer using the same pen name, go with another one. There are plenty of characters out there waiting to be claimed by someone.
To choose a pen name, do the following:
There is no true legal process for choosing a pen name—you may usually just select one and go with it. While most states require anyone doing business under a different name to register with the state, these regulations normally do not apply to authors who use pen names. 31st of July, 2020: According to the New York Times, using a pseudonym is now illegal in that state if you do not have the intention of getting paid.
In fact, using a pen name is kind of like having multiple identities. You can use your real name on social media, for example, or use pen names for writing blogs or articles. The more identities you have, the more opportunities you have of being credited for your work.
People use pen names for many reasons. Some common ones are to avoid controversy or prejudice associated with their actual identity, to gain recognition as a writer, or simply because they feel like it's fun to use a different name on each piece of writing!
It's definitely acceptable in today's society to use a pen name. If you want to, you can even use several of them at the same time!