Should you use a pen name?

It’s a valid question actually. Most writers like to use their own name unless they are writing something like graphic pornography, a kidnapping demand, bomb threat or some other item they would never show their mother but otherwise, people like to see their own name on the By-line and if it’s early in their career, like very, very early, they will go into transports over seeing themselves in print. It is then to be expected that they will buy several copies of the publication and pass them around to share the love.

Nothing wrong with that. After all, they wrote it and it got printed somewhere so they are entitled to feel on top of the world in my opinion.

Pen names, as far as I can deduce, are often adopted by established writers but don’t ask me why because I haven’t the foggiest idea and unfortunately I don’t know any famous writers who have done this so I can’t even ask! But to get back to it…should you use a pen name instead of your own? Well I guess it’s up to the individual but if you want to go down that track you should go for something unique, catchy and memorable and the only problem I can forsee is if you become really, really famous and you suddenly want all your detractors from high school, plus your workplace to know that Artorius Penworthy (or whatever you’ve called yourself) is actually you. They may not believe you and your sudden declaration may just feed them more stuff to throw back at you, as in “OMG! Gladys is saying she’s a famous writer now!!!” and people start asking for your autograph and then snort in derision.

The only way around that one I guess is for “Artorius” to send out illustrious invitations for his next hugely publicised book signing to every single one of them and viola! There you are! Can’t guarantee it will up your popularity but hey, payback has never had anything to do with gaining friends. It’s purely about vindication, with a touch of “nya nya nya!” tossed in for good measure.

But if you are seriously considering using a pen name have a play around with rearranging the letters in your own name into a catchy new one! I have seen this before and if your name contains the right letters it can work really well! If not, scrap rearranging your name and look at finding a new one altogether but be careful. I mean, if there really is someone out there called Isadora de la Quille they may not aprove of you using their name on your work, unless of course you become really, really famous which also has the potential to make you really, really rich…the real Isadora is out there somewhere holding a birth certificate and with possession being nine tenths of the law and all…

Okay then, try for something original that reflects the “writer” thing instead. Seriously, you can do this and if you don’t make a hash of it you have a good chance of turning up something that sounds good, looks good and practically leaps off the page, grabbing the reader’s eye and keeping them on the page long enough to read what you have to say. If you’ve worked hard at your craft you’ll keep them there and isn’t that what it’s all about? Of course it is! That’s why you write!

I did give a fleeting thought, many years ago, to using a pen name but in the end I thought better of it and decided to just stick with my own. I want everyone to know It’s Me!!!