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Writing Under a Pen Name 101

pen name, Julie Zantopoulos, writing under a pen name, publishing, writing tips

Using a pen name is something a lot of writers utilize if they are writing across multiple genres, especially if they write for academics or young adult and then romance or erotica as well. The beauty of writers is that we are diverse. Within us is the drive and desire to explore all aspects of our being, all facets of our talent, and to share it with the world. So what do you do when you want to write academic papers and ravaging rouge romance? You use a pen name, my friend!

Writing Under a Pen Name

When to Use a Pen Name

Using a pen name is not just used when you are spanning different areas of writing (the formal and the informal/scandalous). There are plenty of reasons to use a pen name and each is as valid as the next.

  • There’s already a popular person with your name. Using a pen name will help you avoid confusion and capitalize on searches more.
  • You don’t think your name is marketable. I have a rough last name with Zantopoulos but I’ve been lucky enough to be living on the web long enough that it doesn’t deter me. If you are just starting off, though, you may want to go with something you think people can remember (or spell).
  • You write in different genres or in a gender driven genre. If you are writing children’s books and then murder mysteries you may want a pen name for one or the other. If you are a man writing about crafting you may want to go with a more gender neutral name like Lindsay. The same goes for women writing about the military, which is typically a male driven genre.

How to Pick a Pen Name

There are pen name generators but they pretty much come up with generic crappy names. They are good for at least seeing different first and last names but I’ve never run across a combo of both that they suggested that worked. My best piece of advice to you is to stick with something that you don’t mind hearing a lot, writing/signing, and to get creative!

Write down a bunch of options for first and last name and play with combinations. Sit with them for a little bit. Say them aloud, write them out, and even try them on the cover art. Poll a few friends once you have narrowed down the field and see what they think sounds best. This is your chance to pick your own name and that’s pretty amazing, so have fun with it!

Some Things To Keep in Mind

  • Make sure nobody else is using that name in a professional manner. Doing a complete google search for the name is a must. If you are using a name for children’s books you don’t want your name to be shared with somebody in the adult film industry.
  • Purchase the URL for the name. You’re going to want it, even if you don’t use it.
  • Lock down all social media outlets for that name (even if you don’t intend of leveraging them all). It’s better to have them than to not. This means Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat…everything.
  • Grab email addresses for your pen name at each server, if possible, but Gmail is a must.

Social Media for a Pen Name

If you are writing then you need an audience to market to, right? If you are starting over from scratch with a pen name that means building new social media accounts for your pen name. This can be daunting but if you aren’t adverse to cross promoting with your real name, that helps. Before you publish your first post or book, I recommend starting off all your social media accounts. The social proof goes a long way and it’s a little strange to have an author with no following. Start those accounts, grow them as quickly as you can, and start networking with others in your genre!

Publishing Under a Pen Name

If you use Amazon to publish your work they allow you to use a pen name so long as you have and account with your real name registered. Your tax and financial information will all be logged under your real name and your pen name proceeds go directly where that information points. This is incredibly helpful and makes writing under a pen name a breeze. The NookPress set up works similarly and both have fantastic customer service to help you through any issues you may have.

So, What Now?

Now you start writing! A pen name can be a very freeing thing to have and I think that everyone should take the time to write about what interests them without fear that it may hurt their career or credibility. A pen name allows you to write about a wide variety of things with authority but they do take a bit of effort. Find a name you love, lock down a URL, start some social media accounts, and have fun!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Julie Zantopoulos
Stalk Me

Julie Zantopoulos

Julie Zantopoulos is the author of Shoot Down the Wendy Bird. Before she published her first book she was Editor-in-Chief, creating content for a national print and online magazine, The Indie Chicks. She is working on her novel while fostering creativity in others. She launched Pages and Pens, a booktube (youtube channel about books) channel to share her love of books.
Julie Zantopoulos
Stalk Me

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