Writing Poll: real name vs. pen name

And, more importantly, why did you make that choice?  Please provide an answer below!

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Writing Poll: real name vs. pen name

  1. Maureen Mertens

    The question for me is why wouldn’t I use my real name. Now I have some Op-Eds I want to write and for those I would use a pen name for a few reasons: I am a reporter and would not want to reveal my opinions/biases, next we live in a very dangerous world…lots of crazy people out there….I assume you all know about the murder in London yesterday. And come to think of it if I wrote a fiction book about oh…some religion…to remain nameless, yes I would use a pen name. Take care. Maureen Mertens

  2. Thomas P. Ramirez

    When I was writing erotica (porn) I didn’t want my family/friends to know. So I became Tony Calvano, Steve Savage, Mason Campbell, Matt Dorrance, Gage Carlin, etc. etc. At National Features Syndicate, Chicago (1970-1973), which put out three tabloids, I had a dozen different pen names. .At NATIONAL ENQUIRER, I used Thomas P. Ramirez (when the articles editors didn’t steal the byline.) If and when “Wonderful Mexican Band,” my Great Depression memoir, is published, I’ll be proud to attach my real name..

  3. Jack Byrne

    While sales I’ve made over the years (fiction and nonfiction) appeared under my real name, I know of writers who have used pen names and fully understand the various reasons for doing so. Authors writing in several genres (romance/horror/mystery/etc) may wish to avoid reader confusion; writers with a specific public persona (religious/political/etc) may wish to keep their public and literary lives separate; novelists may wish to jumpstart or reinvent their career with a new name and a fresh start…the list goes on.

  4. Jessica Burde

    I am writing under both. I decided, partly for reasons of privacy and partly due to plans to write under some very different genres (ie: erotic fantasy and kids s/f) that keeping my work under separate names was a VERY good idea.

  5. John Haefele

    In my case, I am trying to build credibility establishing my reputation in a narrow field having a small audience–it would be counterproductive to dilute things (other than for protecting my grandchildren).

  6. Filomena Lea

    Hmmm…A very interesting question. And very interesting responses. Never thought about this, however it appears writers have the privilege of going under cover for many reasons, but others such as people in the public eye, entertainers, and other movers and shakers do not have this choice of immunity.

    As for myself, when I worked on the Milwaukee Sentinel for almost 17 years, my name was changed for 13 of those years because my maiden name did not fit in the column inch. Later when newspaper space changed, I did use my maiden name. When I worked as a magazine contributor for ten years, I used my married name. If and when I do puiblish a book, I will use my first name along with my maiden name hyphenated married name.

    One book I started some years ago does and will have vulgarities and some rather rough scenes including domestic abuse; however, because the story revolves around someone else and his life and not mine, I don’t see why my name should not be attached to it. Yet, I can understand other writers choosing to use a nom de plume to avoid unpleasant encounters and fear of repercussions. The world today is not a friendly one, and in some cases it is perhaps a good choice to not reveal one’s identity. Guess what it comes down to is that the answer to the question is a very personal one and one that writers have an exclusive right to make.

    Just be sure you tell your bank that when the checks come in, that they be credited to your new name account.

    • Jack Byrne

      FYI…book/magazine publishers understand this issue and contracts generally specify the name to be used for the byline as well as the legal name (sometimes different) used for the contract signing as well as check cashing.

  7. Pingback: What’s in a (brand) name? | One Million Words

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