How To Choose A Pen Name
Countless artists, especially writers and singers, use pen names. From Mark Twain to Lady Gaga, Lewis Carrol to Anne Rice, pen names can be found everywhere.
Even Stephen King has wrote under a handful of names! So calm down, my friend. I’m gonna help you through this!
The first question you should be asking yourself is, “Why use a pen name?” Before choosing a pen name you must first figure out the reason you wish to do so.
I’ll give you the three biggest reasons I know why to use one, how I made the choice on mine, and give you a couple (obvious) ways to go about choosing one.
So! What is the reason behind it all?
First of all, for some writers, it’s to simply protect their privacy. Either they want to write a book without the mad attention that can go with it or they just don’t want anyone to bother them about it.
Two separate things, right? Not really. Think on it.
There are those folks out there that have made writing a book a milestone in their life. They aren’t looking for anything other the satisfaction of the publication of their book.
On the other hand, some people want to follow through with being an author. By using a pen name they make it more difficult for fans to track them down on a more personal level.
A second reason writers use a pen name, and probably one of the two more common reasons, is because they usually write in one genre and want to put out a book in a different genre.
By doing so, the readers don’t get the two names confused. It’s insane to say it, but it’s easier to be known by one name to one genre than it is to say an author writes in this genre and that.
You may disagree, but that’s how I understand it.
The third reason, and the other most common reason, is because the person has a popular name. Perhaps there are other authors with the same name and they don’t want to confuse the following they are trying to build and/or it could be they want to avoid interference with sales.
This latter reason is why I chose to use a pen name.
As of this writing, there is a pro basketball player and at least one other author with the same name as mine – Anthony Davis. I don’t hide the fact I am using a pen name, but I’m starting to get into another blog post here.
More on that one later!
Once you filed down the meat and got to the bone you now have your reason to use a pen name. Do you still want to use it? That’s your choice. No one can make that call for you.
But let’s say you have decided to write under a different name. Great! But there’s a catch. It’s not all that easy to think up a pen name.
You name characters in your books. You could do it all day long. But giving yourself a different name isn’t as easy as you might think!
Here’s three ways to put your name together:
- Think of some one who meant a lot to you; a teacher, a relative, that long lost friend, etc. Maybe they had a name that really stuck with you? Write it down and keep thinking.
- Make an anagram! Change around the letters to your real name to make another name out of it. It can be a tedious task, but a fun one!
- Use baby name books or websites. There’s oodles of names out there. Surely ONE of them catches your attention!
So how did I come up with Kyran Ravencroft? I firstly looked at my writings and how my mind operates. I wanted something fitting. I used baby name lists to pour through hundreds of names.
Then I came across the name Kyran. It’s an Irish name for a boy meaning “dark.” Perfect! That for me was the hard part. The easiest part was the last name: Ravencroft.
There is a Scooby Doo movie called ‘Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost’ that had a character in it with the last name of Ravencroft. Incidentally, the character was also a writer and played by (the most awesome) Tim Curry.
I wrote the name down and said it out loud a few times. To me, it sounded good. It was catchy and fit my personality. So I had my pen name.
Whichever method(s) you use I assure you it’s probably going to take you a while to find a name that just clicks. But be patient! Don’t rush into it no matter how frustrated you may get. The result can be quite rewarding; even if it’s just for personal satisfaction.
I hope you have found this helpful! If you are using a pen name or have decided on one then share how you chose yours in the comments!
Thank you for reading, and I hope to see YOU on the flip side!