What’s In A (Pen) Name?

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For years I have struggled with the idea of writing under a pen name. Yes, if you didn’t already know, Jenna Jaxon is not my real name. Because of my professional work, I decided before I began writing that if I were ever published, it would be under a pseudonym. I ended up choosing a family name and a name I thought a bit different and sort of catchy and I still like it very much.

There are some logistics involved, of course. You will need to set up your website and social media as your alter ego. This may require some juggling if you also use things like Facebook and Twitter under your own name. You will usually need to disclose your true identity to your publisher, unless you are strictly self-published. Publishers have to report to the IRS and must have your legal information. Interestingly enough, according to Writing-World.com, “A pseudonym has no existence as a ‘legal’ entity; no matter what name you put on your work, the ultimate responsibility for that work always rests on you.” This includes the responsibility for any legal action taken against your “pen” name.

Authors often struggle with the decision of whether or not to write under a pen name and there are many very good reasons to choose to write under another name. The big one for me was to keep my real name hidden for professional reasons. Another might be because the writer wishes to write in different genres without having author confusion. Does your real name have appeal in the genre you write in? Changing it may help with sales. Is your real name too generic? Would you be easily confused with another author? You might want to use a pen name for clarity.

I am currently contemplating adopting a new pen name and persona for my contemporary works. I’m primarily branding Jenna Jaxon as a writer of historical romance. There may be, however, some confusion on the part of my readers who see my name linked to contemporary, erotic works. I’ve toyed with the idea for several years and I think I’m nearing a decision. Of course, when and if I make my decision, you may never know. Of course, if you find a new author on the block, it might just be me!

quill pen

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