Have you ever thought of writing under a pen name / pseudonym / nom de plume?
You might think that pen names are an obsolete notion, or that only people who have something to hide would write under a pen name. But that’s not true. There are many good reasons to write under a name different from your own. For example,
- Your name is difficult to pronounce.
- Your name is difficult to spell.
- Your name sounds too young or too old for your target audience.
- Your name doesn’t fit with your genre of writing.
- Your name sounds too ethnic or not ethnic enough.
- Your name brings to mind the wrong image.
- Your name, or one like it, is already taken by another writer.
- You need to disguise your identity.
- “You” are really two or three authors working together.
- Your name sounds a lot like another author’s name in your genre.
- You want a website or URL under your published name, but that website name or URL is taken, is difficult to remember, or is difficult to spell.
- You want a name which creates better marketing opportunities.
If you are a teacher looking for a writing topic for your students, here is one. After you explain what a pen name is, and why a person might choose one, ask the students to create pen names for themselves. Then ask them to write about the pen name. For younger students, the writing might be a paragraph, but for older students, this assignment could be an essay explaining why they are choosing to write under a pen name and why they chose the pen name they did. You could collect the assignments and read them aloud, letting the students decide who really wrote the essay.
Next: Some famous pen names