Friday, September 10, 2010

So... Pen Names

"I've heard of pet names before!" you may be shouting helpfully thinking I have drank just a wee bit too much tonight. (No one names a pen anything unless it cost over $500 or is otherwise holy in the world of pen kind.) No, fellow literature enthusiasts, I mean pseudonyms.

Awhile back, a talented writer acquaintance brought up pen names. Her name--at least her first--is extraordinarily ordinary where she is from. She would like to have something with a more unique flavor and I can totally empathize. Do you want to know how many Jennifer Jacksons roam this planet? Too many. Especially too many for wanting to stand out. I'm like a glob of mayonnaise nestled happily inside a cloud, off-white, at best, on white. While the aforementioned writer came up with what I thought was a totally awesome pseudonym... yeah.

Pseudonyms can cause trouble at times for writers. It can be harder to validate credentials if you have a pen name so different that it could almost tap your given name on the shoulder from behind. It also means it is easier for someone ELSE to claim they are you.

**And don't even get me started on switching your maiden name over when you are a female author using your real name.**

My real hope is that my work speaks for itself but if-- and it's a big if-- someone wants to remember the person behind the work, what is there to do? Do I start over with what career I have and use a different name or do I keep going in my cloudy, mayonnaise shellacked sky and hope for the best?

What are your thoughts on pseudonyms?

Remaining (for now),

Jennifer Jackson


  1. I thought about it, then decided I wanted to give acknowledgment to my ancestors and family. I chose D M Yates. It's my real name. By the way, I have seen way too many stupid pen names. A name has a lot to do with sales and who you are. A silly or stupid pen name to me says: don't waste your money on me.

  2. I'm afraid of picking the WRONG pen name. I mean, what if it is "worse" than the one I have now?

    Part of the problem is picking a name that stands out (without being too corny) but I wish my work would do the talking. I almost don't care if people remember WHO wrote it if they took something from it.

  3. You're right Jennifer. Pen names are nice and dandy, but it's your work that should stand out - if it speaks for itself, there is no need for all the Lady Bonbons of the world ;)

  4. Lady Bonbons is too close to Gaga, anyway. lol I called you a "talented writer acquaintance" in my post as I didn't want to use your name without permission.

  5. Bah, use away - it's unpronouncable anyhow lol Although my ego rather likes "talented writer acquaintance" ;P

  6. I always pronounce your name Nat-a-lee shh-litz. How does one say your name? (I'm not very good at writing HOW I say something so, forgive me.)

    There are a few people I know here or other places that I know are excessively talented. I know a couple of poets who shine and a few fiction writers as well. You're on this short list. This coming from someone of my writing caliber probably shouldn't boost your ego, though. LOL But I still mean it.