Catch the wind

Catch the wind

Monday, March 26, 2012

...pen name???

as promised here are the answers to the pen name
quiz. scroll down to the quiz to see them.

lots of famous authors use a pen name. some use their
real name and a pen name or several pen names. it got
me wondering why a writer uses a pen name and if
your gonna use one how do you choose a good one.

why you might wanna use a pen name

1. your own name is boring & you want a more unique name - one that can be remembered.
2.  your own name is too common (john smith) popular (jennifer aniston) or wont be taken seriously (bertha day).
3.  to hide your gender. some books sell better by a woman author ( like romance) and some by a man (like business). j. k. rowling used just two initials and her last name because she was advised that male authors are more likely to get published.
4. to distance yourself from all or some or your books
5. to protect yourself from retribution. yikes! scary!
6. marketing or aesthetic presentation of the work. stephen king published 4 novels under a pen name because his publisher didnt think people would buy more than 1 novel per year by the same author.
7. your real name might be confused with another author or famous person
8. to match up with different genres you write. romance writer nora roberts wrote erotic thrillers as j. d. robb.
9. privacy or you dont want what you wrote to be mistaken for who you are.
10. you dont want your family or friends knowing how much you know about steamy sex stuff. ack! ha ha.

PEN NAME???  first you need to decide if you really need one. if your real name is a good author name - use it!

if you wanna use a pen name heres some good advice for choosing one

1. make it easy to spell and remember. a two syllable first name and a one syllable last name is a good way to be remembered. heres a good example - lenny lee :)  some authors are lucky and their real name fits the syllable test - stephen king, sterling north.
2. dont make it too fancy or cute. dont try to be too clever. a book about flowers by perry winkle or clover fields probably wont be taken too seriously. for kid picture books it might be ok to be cute or clever.
3. dont use bizarre or showy names and dont rhyme the first and last name - harry berry, carol ferral.
4. use the first half of the alphabet. theres not many famous authors with last names n-z.
5. sandwich yourself between famous writers in your genre. for example if you write horror, pick a "K" name so youll be on the bookshelf between stephen king and dean koontz.
6. pick a name that not been used. research names on google and at large bookstores like amazon and barnes and noble. avoid getting sued!
7. consider a gender neutral first name like terry, alex, jamie, tracy, joey.
8. test your name out on the internet and with friends and family. if people react strangely or negatively to it you probably need to find a new name.

here are the answers to the famous authors pen names quiz.
1. peter jackson = ernest hemingway
2. richard bachman or john swithen = stephen king
3. mary westmacott = agatha christie
4. boz = charles dickens
5. clive hamilton = c.s. lewis
6. currer, ellis and acton bell = charlotte, emily and anne bronte
7. paul french = isaac isamov

ill post the answers on saturday

do you have any more ideas on why a writer uses a pen name or ideas on choosing a good one? do you use a pen name and if you dont, would you?

...hugs from lenny


  1. Great advice, Lenny! Bertha Day was so funny. I had never heard of that! :)

  2. I don't know what my pen name would be, that's a great question! I'll have to think about that! What about you? What name would you pick?!

  3. Hida Bed, Conga Line, Tater I think I'll just stick with my own name, Grumpie Grannie. Very informational post Lennie.

  4. Hey Lenny!
    It's me, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star, taking over my human's keyboard. Arf! Arf! :) I don't know the real names to those authors with 'pen' names. Of course, I use my real name which is 'Pen'ny :)
    My human has told me he doesn't want to use a pen name. He has a 'pen' in his name, however. Gary Philip 'Pen'nick LOL
    Pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses, your way, Penny xx

  5. Super post, Lenny! You gave us a lot to think about. I would have never thought about the n-z bit....UH OH my real name starts with m. I want to use my real name when I have a book published, but want to use my initials instead of using Sharon....S K Mayhew sounds much better to me.

    I have a friend who has a pen name. When she first started writing she used just her real name, then she signed with a big publishing house for a series of books and they wanted her to start with a fresh name, so now she writes under both names.

    I'm going to have to come back on Saturday to see who the real names are because I don't have a clue on any of them. :(

  6. Great post, Lenny! Hey, my name fits the syllable test, just like yours! But yours is great; mine is too common, I think. And people keep asking me if I'm related to Jean Fritz (I'm not).

    My first name is also the same as J.K. Rowling's. So I don't really want to go by initials (J.R. Fritz) because I'd be afraid people would think I'm imitating her! Ack!

  7. Lenny, as always, you make me laugh! (Bertha Day, lol!) Reasons #5 and 10 made me laugh, too!

    As for the list of pen names, I think Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell were the Brontes, right?

  8. Great summary of pen names, with excellent tips!

    I heard George Martin changed his name to George R.R. Martin 'cause there already was a George Martin, and he wanted his name to stand out. It also helped that he wrote fantasy, like JRR Tolkien.

    For the quiz, I know #2, 4, and 6. See you Saturday!

  9. Hi Lenny. Great post! You certainly gave us a lot to think about. My name doesn't fit the syllable test, but I think it would be okay to use when published. Although I do have the problem that lots of people want to spell my name as Suzanne instead of Susanne. Maybe I'll have to consider S. M. Drazic? Like I said, you gave us a lot to think about. I'll be back Saturday to find out what the answers are to your quiz, because I have no idea on the answers. Have a great week! Hugs!

  10. Hi Lenny!
    Great thoughts on pen names. I thought if using one for a while but finally gave up on it. Now it's too late!

  11. My favorite pen name is Lemony Snicket. I don't think I'll ever use one, thanks for all of the great information! :o)

  12. Hi Lenny Lee - yours sounds a good name for an author ... those pen-names I have no idea of their real names. Re publication - I suspect I'd use my real name .. but shortening it to Butcher .. I definitely would not like .. we'll have to wait and see!! I'm looking forward to Saturday ..

    Some people have the most odd names - so I'm not surprised they changed them ... and are now famous in that right ..

    Cheers - have a happy week .. Hilary

  13. Great post Lenny on the pros and cons of pen names. I've thought of using my first and middle initial instead of my name because they say that guys don't always want to read a book written by a woman but I don't know. I think your name is a great one for an author. Really easy to remember.

  14. Great quiz, Lenny. I honestly don't know a one. (My bad.)

    Your reasons for using a pen name are spot on. I use my name, but true last name with only my first initials.

  15. I don't know any of the quiz answers!!!

    I use a pen name for privacy. I write mysteries with romance in them - and I'm a teacher. I'd rather keep the 2 identities separate :)

  16. Hey, my name fits the syllable test too! Cool! I like to dream about what pen name I'd use if I ever used one. I think the only reason I would is if I wrote in a completely different genre. I'd love to use the first name Noelle - I've always loved that name but my husband wouldn't let me use it for either of our daughters.

  17. I use the name I've lived with all my life, though technically it is not my "real" name.

  18. FABULOUS tips!!! I considered a pen name...but I really like my real name, LOL!

  19. Love the tips Lenny! I've thought of using a pen name. Still thinking about it. I can't wait for the quiz answers! So cool!

  20. What a great post Mr. Lenny Lee : D
    I specifically loved number five; never thought about sandwiching great authors for my genre with my pen name! : )

  21. Bertha Day! How funny. I think if I write a novel in a different genre, I'll make a different pen name. Informative post.

  22. Wow, great tips, Lenny! You have me wondering who the authors are. I will have to come back to find out the answers. You gave me the giggles today. (Perry Winkles, Clover Fields.) Ha ha haaa.

    I actually wondered about a pen name when I forst started, but then I decided to use my real name, because I wanted to see it on my stories. xoxo

  23. What a great post, Lenny! I have thought about it because my name is so common. (That's why I use my middle name in my blog title). But I figure I'll wait till it becomes an issue to decide for sure.

    And I'm feeling somewhat simple, but I don't know any of those people's real name. :)

  24. This is a super post, Lenny! Great advice about pen names. I especially love the one about picking a name that will put you on the shelf between famous authors in your genre!

  25. Catching up on your posts, Lenny. You write great stuff. Love the pen name one! I use my own name as it is unusual enough. :)

  26. Yikes! I didn't know any of them...

  27. Holy cow, Lenny! I thought I knew all about Stephen King, but I didn't know he had another pen name other than Bachman! I will have to look for the books he wrote under that other name,

  28. I only knew about Agatha Christie.

    I've never considered a pen name. I like Marsha Moore's pen name, Talli Roland.

  29. Gosh, so fun to see the answers. I can't believe I didn't know any of that. But I hope you are doing well! (P.S. Still working on that Christmas card . . . 4th of July? What do you think?)

  30. Hi Lenny, just dropping by to say hi and let you know I'm thinking about you. It's always nice to visit your blog. Hugs to you!

  31. I use a pen name! But I think you knew me before I started using it. LOL.

  32. Lenny, I was just checking in because I haven't heard from you in a while. Hope you're having a good spring. Thinking of you! xo

  33. Hey Lenny,
    Just like Theresa, I'm checking in because Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star and I, Mr. Gary, want you to know we send you really positive, happy wishes.
    Hugs from Penny and Mr.Gary :)

  34. Fascinating post! I have alwayd found pen names to be interesting. I liked reading about why people use them and I had no idea about any of the pen names in your list. Thanks for sharing.


Whatever wonderful, witty and wise words you manage to come up with!