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How To Choose a Pen Name

Many authors, especially those who write romance, elect to use a pseudonym or a nom de plume. How does one go about choosing a pen name? I’ve been in this writing game for a few years now, and I have a few suggestions. These are only my opinions, not written in some Author Handbook. You may disagree with me or have other suggestions. If so, feel free to leave a comment so others can benefit from your thoughts.

In no particular order:

1. Choose something that anybody could spell. If a reader wants to search you out on the internet or on the shelves of their local bookstore, they may have a hard time if they are looking for Jessica Diamond but you spell it Jezika Dymynd.

2. An easy-to-remember name is a plus. Maybe you really like Maria Maddalena da Monreale-Baroncelli, but will a reader remember that name? Besides that, how would it look on the cover of a book?

3. Do an internet search to see if the name you want is already being used. Sure, you probably know not to call yourself Nora Roberts, but there are a LOT of authors out there, especially with the advent of self publishing. Be sure you aren’t taking someone else’s name. And I’m not just talking about other writers’ names. Check for musicians, actresses, sports stars, etc.

4. Also, don’t choose a name that is too similar to other authors. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see a book by someone I thought was a long time favorite of mine. Imagine my disappointment (and irritation) to find out it wasn’t my favorite author, just someone with a very similar name.

5. Be sure you can spell it and write it easily. This is the name you will be signing when readers ask you to autograph their book. Practice writing it over and over. Is it comfortable for you? If not, look for something else.

6. Pick something you can answer to. How embarrassing to have a reader call, “Ms. Barone! Maddy!” while you stroll obliviously past her because you don’t realize she is talking to you. She thinks you’re rude and you missed an opportunity to chat with someone who (hopefully) enjoys your books.

7. Check to see if the domain for your pen name is available. Even if there is not another writer/public figure out there with the name you want, if you can’t use www (dot)yourname(dot)com it may be difficult for readers to find your website. And you want readers to be able to find you.

There, 7 suggestions to help you decide on a pen name. As I said, these are only suggestions. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

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