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The Badass Guide to Pen Names

Pen names, many authors use them, but how do you know if it’s right for you? There are several reasons an author could use a pen name, and today, we’re going to talk about some of the reasons you may decide you need a pen name, or why you may want one. Welcome to The Badass Guide to Pen Names.

Here are a few reasons you may consider a pen name:

The Badass Guide to Pen Names

1. Your Real Name

Maybe you were blessed with a super long last name, like mine. Maybe people butcher the spelling and pronunciation all the time. Or, if you’re like me, people brag to you when they finally figure out how to spell your last name (#truestory).

2. You Write in Different Genres

The famous example of this would be if you wrote children’s books, but you also wrote erotica. Obviously, you not want those linked together because you’d probably have lots of mad parents.

3. Going Incognito

If for whatever reason, you decide that you don’t actually want people to link your writing to you, you can use a pen name to hid your writing. Maybe you don’t want people to bug you about your writing, or judge, or whatever the case is, if you want to be separate from your writing, a pen name could be you.

4. Gender-less?

There have been studies shown that sometimes, especially depending on the genre, you may need a gender-specific name for better success. Or lack there of. J.K. Rowling used initials because it can be harder for women to sell fantasy. She’s also used another pen name (a masculine one) for a mystery book. Do your research on your genre to decide if you need a pen name or not.

5. Your Real Name, part two

Say you were blessed with a common name that everyone knows how to spell. That could be a double-edged sword, though. If you have a common name, what happens when someone else with your name is also a writer?

So, You Decided You’ll Use a Pen Name. Now What? 

6. Do Your Research

Make sure that the names you’re thinking of aren’t taken. If you’re looking for a specific meaning of a last name, Behind the Name is a great resource.

7. Make a List

Make a list of all the names you like, and if you’re doing both first and last names, make sure you combine different combinations of the names. Keep going until you find a name that you love. A name you can build a career on.

Need a pen name for your writing? On the fence about whether you do or not? Here's the badass guide for it. Click To Tweet

8. Social Media

Do you need to update social media? Make new accounts? If you’re trying to keep your real identity a secret, make some new accounts.

9. The legalities

If you’re going to accept money from people under this pen name, you’ll need fill out some paperwork. You’ll need to have the proper paperwork. This is a great article that covers the basics of pen names and the law. You’ll need to do more research about receiving payment under a pen name, but this is a great starting point.

10. Start Building Your Brand

 It’s important that you start working on your new pen name as soon as you can once you decide on it. If you’re about to publish a book, get a website up, and start connecting with people.

11. I have to confess

 Over the weekend, I got a new identity. You see, for a long time now, I’ve gone back and forth on whether to use my last name, just because it’s so hard. It’s long, it’s not pronounced the way it’s spelled, and it’s just a mouthful.

So, on Saturday, Laura Teagan was born. What does this mean? Well, Ginger & Co. will still be its own thing, written by Laura Toeniskoetter, because most people find the blogs based on the blog name.

But, my book will be published by Laura Teagan. It’s different enough that I’ll be unique, but easier than “Toeniskoetter.” That also means brand new social media accounts to establish Laura Teagan online, so if she follows you on social media, that’s me. I promise, neither Laura bites.

Now tell me, if you use a pen name, what made you decide you needed it?

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