To pen name or not to pen name

One reason I’ve been too busy to update my blog in the past six months is that I’m working on a kinda secret project. I’ve been writing in a category and genre completely different than I have for the past ten…um, twelve years.

It’s been fun to explore a new genre and to write for a new age category. Really fun. And I plan to work towards publication of this new project.secret project

Hence the big question: to use a pen name or not?

Using my real name will make promotion so much easier. I can build on the base I’ve already created and I won’t have to fear someone finding out who I really am. I won’t have to duplicate social media efforts and have multiple web sites.

But, using a pen name means I can protect my real identity and my reputation as a children’s writer. And just because I’m experimenting with something new doesn’t mean I’m turning my back on my MG and YA projects, so I do need to protect my reputation. Someday, my novels for tweens and teens will be published and I wouldn’t want to confuse my readers.

If you’ve used a pen name, why? How have you handled the marketing and promotion piece? Would you do it differently if you could start over?

If you’ve chosen not to use a pen name, why not?

I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment with your answer to the above questions or just some support. I wouldn’t have survived this long on the journey without my friends, so thanks to all of you!

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3 Comments

Filed under Getting Published, writing

3 responses to “To pen name or not to pen name

  1. I’m impressed that you can write in different genres. It must be so much more work having two separate social media accounts though. Kristen Lamb talks slot about how to just have one even if you write for different audiences.

  2. This is an interesting question, and one I’ve thought about quite a bit. Is it a question about genre, or is it a question about age group. And I won’t deny, I’m intrigued, Vicki. You write predominantly for a YA – MG audience. There’s something about writing for children (for which you have my admiration because I know how difficult it is) that I think should remain constant…unsullied, perhaps? You haven’t mentioned the genre you are now exploring, and in your post you’ve used the terms, ‘…I won’t have to fear someone finding out who I am.’ and ‘…protecting my reputation.’ IMHO if these points are uppermost in your mind there’s a problem. What would I do? I’d write under a pseudonym for my new genre and age group. I’ve written in different genres under the same name, but the age group is more of less the same, J K Rowling writes under the name of Robert Galbraith for her adult novels. She could have taken the easy route and written them under her own name which would have sent them stratospheric from day one, but she kept them separate. I think there’s a very good reason why she did that.

  3. In an ideal world you would be able to say, “and Vicki writing as Pen Name”. Then readers would know to expect your quality, just a different genre. It would be easy to promote to your peers with whom you already have a solid foundation even if this new genre isn’t there thing, they might know of someone who enjoys it. There is no right or wrong answer in a not-ideal world, so do what works for you and I hope you have fun exploring this new genre.

    I think it is however important to remember that even if others don’t all know who your pen is, you do. So treat it with the same respect and rules as you would your real name, because one day, it might be the name you are known by or your various pen names and real names might be linked. Plus you will have to reveal it to certain folks for various reasons, payments or book signings, the police (you never know what trouble your pen name could get into while surfing the Net!) and it’s good to know you can still be you.

    My pen name is me. I am my pen name.

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