I have a number of friends who are writers. Some, like me, have published under their real names, while others have used pen names. I used to think that if I ever published my very first novel, I would do so under a pen name. That’s because it’s not the kind of story that would be popular, and I wouldn’t necessarily want people associating me with it. While it’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek in poking fun at itself, if you don’t realize that…. But that’s why I never published it.
My fantasy trilogy, on the other hand, I published under my actual name. I never really considered using a pen name for it. Sometimes, I wish I had. Like when my professors tell me they’re going to read my work. I get really, really self-conscious when that happens.
In some ways, though, it’s fun to have the book be MINE, you know? It was amazing to get that first proof copy and see my name IN PRINT on the cover when I’d spent so long envisioning what that would be like. And it’s really cool when people I don’t know are able to connect with me on the blog or social media or my author email account and tell me, by my name, that they enjoyed the read. Also, there’s my close family. They know that writing and publishing has always been my dream, so it’s easy to put my real name on the book and not have to clue them in that no, I haven’t given up or moved on to other things, I just published under a fake name. This is it, and this is what I’ve been writing….
It would be so much fun, though, in a different way, to use a pen name. Writing’s all about trading who you are for the personas of your characters, and a pen name extends that tendency. Feeds right into it! Not to mention that the self-conscious, introverted side of me would love to have the fake name to hide behind. But hey…. I am me. I did write the things I’ve written. And I don’t have any real reason not to attach my name to them, since I’m leaving academia. (Fiction writing is frowned upon by the academy. Academics should be spending their time doing “important” and “legitimate” research. As though the connections I make between texts from 500 years ago is somehow important to the world today…. Anyway, sorry for the rant.)
If I ever write something in a different genre–perhaps Christian fiction or non-fiction–I might publish under a pen name to keep my “brand” intact. But I’m curious about other people: have you published under a pen name? Do you plan to? Have you considered using one? Why or why not? It’s an interesting phenomenon!