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Do Authors Need a Pen Name? Book Publicist Scott Lorenz Discusses Pros and Cons
Scott Lorenz -- Top Book Publicist Scott Lorenz -- Top Book Publicist
Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Do Authors Need a Pen Name? Book Publicist Scott Lorenz Discusses Pros and Cons

Plymouth, MI—A rich tradition has existed for hundreds of years for fiction writers to use pen names. You may be surprised to learn that some authors have more than 10 pen names, and many authors believe their name affects how their audience sees them and even their book sales. 

Pen names have been used throughout history, and Scott Lorenz provides examples: "One of the most famous pen names was Samuel Clemens who wrote under the name Mark Twain. Another well-known pen name was Lewis Carroll, used by Alice in Wonderland's author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He gained a considerable reputation as a mathematician and didn't want to create confusion by writing fiction under his real name."

"Whether you call it a pen name, pseudonym, non de plume, alias or AKA, you are creating a new persona that'll need care and feeding!" Lorenz says.

Authors have a variety of reasons for using pen names. Lorenz discusses one client: "One of my book marketing clients served as a Navy Seal in the Iraq War and then returned to write a book about his war experiences. To protect his personal safety and maintain security for his family, he used the pen name Chuck Bravedy. The author was concerned that extremists living in America would be offended and angered by his controversial book and come after him or his family. The fact that Chuck Bravedy was not listed as a Navy Seal caused The Pentagon to call me. They explained they wanted to keep phonies from impersonating military officials. I gladly connected them both!"

Other clients of Lorenz's include a former CIA station chief who was concerned about the impact a pen name would have on promoting his book. After discussing the pros and cons, he decided to use his real name. Lorenz also represented two Medical Doctors who both wrote serious erotica. Neither wanted their hospitals to know about their 'other' life so they both chose pen names and donned disguises for their headshots.

From a marketing standpoint, there's no need for a pen name if your work and your business are connected. But if you have success, and don't want that success threatened by pursuing writing, then a pen name may be necessary. Pen names may create marketing challenges, so the marketing implications need to be examined before publishing. So, let's discuss the main pros and cons, as quoted by Lorenz:

Reasons to use a pen name include:

  • To avoid embarrassment
  • For personal safety or security
  • If you write under more than one genre
  • If your name is hard to pronounce or spell
  • If your name is not marketable
  • If your name conflicts with the name of another author
  • To hide gender (a male writing in predominantly female genre)
  • To avoid confusing readers if you are well known in another field

Reasons to use your real name:

  • If you are not trying to hide from anyone.
  • To brand yourself and promote your name for speaking gigs or consulting assignments
  • If you are planning to write a series of books
  • So people can find your published works
  • Your face behind your name builds trust and confidence with readers
  • Because long-term loyalty with readers is easier to build with real name

It can be difficult to come up with a pen name, so check out some of these name generators linked on Scott Lorenz's blog, available here, for inspiration.

The Bottom Line: A Pen Name is an author's useful tool for the right reasons.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it's their first book or their 15th book. He's handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers, and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Book Marketing at https://www.WestwindBookMarketing.com or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz's new award winning, bestselling book: Book Title Generator- A Proven System in Naming Your Book 

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Name: Scott Lorenz
Title: President
Group: Westwind Communications
Dateline: Plymouth, MI United States
Direct Phone: 734-667-2090
Cell Phone: 248-705-2214
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