A couple of weeks ago, we discussed pen names, including what they were and whether they were right for you.
In my case, I decided not to use one: to stick with my own name on all my published books for a few different reasons. This included how I really like my given name.
Plus, I figured I’d be married eventually. In which case, I’d change my last name because I'd want to change my name. Except that I really like my current name. So I could still be “Jeannette DiLouie” on my books, author website, and related papers and publications.
(Turns out, that was smart thinking, since I will be getting married… just as soon as these shutdowns ease up. I’d rather go to the justice of the peace than have a traditional ceremony with masks.)
But that's me. And I did list several reasons why people might want a pen name, such as:
If they hate your name
If their name doesn’t match the genre they're writing in.
If they’re trying to protect themselves from people they don’t want to be contacted by.
I thought that was a pretty good list. But, as it turns out, I missed one very good reason to go undercover as an author.
It took an email from a Genuine Writer subscriber to make me see the error of my ways.
“Jeannette, it’s Ron.”
That’s how the enlightening email began. And it continued with this:
I read with keen interest your latest innovative contribution on using or not using a pen name, and the three factors involved.
I would like to humbly submit a FOURTH factor – paying “homage” to a NAME! Let me explain.
For my sci-fi novel, I am using a pen name – and for all of my novels following that…
I was adopted way “back in the day” when everyone kept secrets. But, through rigorous digging, I found my real parents and my real name. (Believe it or not, I was 40 years old when that happened.)
My “adopted” name was [I’m leaving this blank, even though he said I could use it. Because I’m a paranoid writer].
My “given” name was [I’m also leaving this blank, even though he said I could use it. Because I’m a paranoid writer].
My pen name for my novel? Ronald Anthony Kuska. [A combination of the two names I left blank. Because I'm a paranoid writer.]
In this way, I seek to honor both my birth name AND my adopted name.
... I thought perhaps you would pick up on that suggestion and use it as a FOURTH reason to change a person’s name for a novel. This could be for some future Innovative Editing features.
Of course I had to share that! It’s a truly awesome reason to use an alternative authorial identity.
After reading Ronald’s email, I realized that there’s yet another reason to go with a pen name – though it’s hardly anywhere close to being as fascinating as the one he offered.
Many multi-genre authors will choose nom de plumes in order to better delineate their books and/or series. Which means they’ll not only come up with different names. They’ll also create entirely new websites for those names.
Do you know how much work that can be?
And how much money?
There’s no way I have the time or patience for that kind of endeavor. In short, I’m too lazy in this regard to bother with anything more than “Jeannette DiLouie” across all my genres.
I guess I could scrape up the cash if I wanted to. But I don’t. It doesn’t seem even close to being worth the effort, no matter if historical fiction readers get turned off that I write fantasy. Or if “Talon Haines” would look better on a political thriller.
Perhaps that’s a silly marketing mentality on my part. And feel free to adopt a much more mature attitude on the subject if you’d like. Just know it’s going to cost you.
Unlike using a pen name for pretty much any other reason.