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Choosing a pen name


You have determined that you would like to use a pseudonym when putting your writing out into the world, and you are getting to the point where you will need to choose what this will be. How can you choose an appropriate pen name?

Choosing a pen name requires some serious thought, as this is how you will be presenting yourself and your work to the world. Once it’s out there, it can be very difficult to change as the work you’ve already done will be attributed to this alternate persona. This means it’s in your best interest to sit down and figure out a name you can stick with throughout your career.

You want a name that will be memorable and recognizable. This means that you will likely go with a name that most people are familiar with but is still relatively uncommon so you won’t wind up stepping on the toes of others with the same name. It should be simple to spell, even for those that haven’t seen the name in print, so people will be able to seek out your work easily if they feel inclined to do so.

Your name should also fit the work you are creating to a certain extent, as this will help things seem more organized and streamlined. Think about using this name for the long haul, and how your work may evolve over time. Will those that know you by your name given at birth think your new option suits you? It doesn’t hurt to ask. Consider where your work will be placed on bookstore shelves, which are typically stocked in alphabetical order. Test out the name as much as you can. Write it down, create a signature with it, have people call you by this name on a regular basis before deciding on using it.

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