I swear I never do this in the right order.
That sounds about right for me as a person. *sigh*
There are many reasons a writer takes on a pen name for their publishing.
I claimed a name that was unique. My given name is far too common. I wanted something that would only lead to searches of me. And it does. My blog ends up top of the search engine every time. That or one of my books.
Uniqueness is only one of the reasons.
Some people are hiding their information behind a false name. Like a teacher or professional besides where they want to separate their professional life from their author profile.
Some create pen names for individual genres.
Normally because the genres don’t mesh well. Like young adult and erotica. Probably best to have two separate identities for them.
Some create pen names for a series and not an author.
What do I mean by that? There are several children’s books where there is not one author for the series. The series has one pen name for a group of people. It works. Is it easy to do that? No.
Some series need a pen name (Peter Powers by Kent Clark comes to mind). The pen name is literally another clue for the book.
Even though I haven’t really seen this outside of kids’ books doesn’t mean it can’t happen for adults.
Some claim a pen name because their given name is too difficult/long/odd to say/read.
There is nothing wrong with a pen name.
There is nothing wrong with using your given name.
Either way, you are creating an identity for your public author profile. The name is only one part of it. And some people would rather stay as close to their true self as humanly possible.
And that’s perfectly fine.
How to pick a pen name:
Why are you creating one?
If you are creating one for a genre or series, keep those thoughts in mind. Have it connect to common authors in the genre or as a link to your work in question.
You can use the narrator’s name as your pen name even.
If you are creating one to hide yourself, keep distance from your own name. If you are trying to hide, pick something that says you without saying you.
My name is Cat Hartliebe, which is my nickname plus a corrupted version of tough love in German. I answer to it.
If you are hiding behind the pen name, then you probably don’t want to answer in real life to both. At least not without a mask of some kind.
If you want uniqueness, research different names and words from places you connect to. Find something that’s unique, suits you, and suits your story/stories.
Make sure to search for your final idea before committing to it.
Are you creating a name to make it easy for readers? Such as your name is just too complicated and difficult. You can pick something simple or break apart your name to something more easy to say and read.
Your pen name is still a part of your author profile. It’s the name you sign the book with. It’s a piece of your platform.
Taking the time to figure it out will be worth it.
Realize, though, you can’t promote at all until this name is decided. You can’t publish until this name is decided. Your author profile isn’t complete until you have this done.
The name you write in must happen as one of the first things.
Can you change it later?
Yes and no.
I would suggest if you dislike your previous pen name, to publish all new work as your new pen name while leaving the old work as whatever it was before. Unless you didn’t sell anything or there is no fear of people connecting the two of you.
Can you have multiple pen names?
Yes. Most definitely. I mentioned authors having separate pen names for different genres and series. That happens. It’s more difficult on the author’s side of things to handle multiple pen names, but it’s reasonable. It’s acceptable. You can do that.
Any further questions on the topic, please leave them below.