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How to Write Under A Pen Name?

Writers have been using pseudonyms and pen names for centuries. The primary reason behind these writers using a pen name has always been to hide their true identities. However, there are certainly more reasons why writers usually prefer using a pen name.

Because there've been incredibly popular writers who were well-known and identified, but their popularity was affiliated with a pen name despite people knowing their real names.

Wondering what's exactly a pen name or pseudonym and why most writers prefer to use them?

Well, we have got you covered with all the adequate information in this blog post. It primarily focuses on helping the readers learn how to write under a pen name!

What Is a Pen Name or Pseudonym?

The pseudonym is derived from the French word nom de plume, which refers to a fake name used by an author or a writer to publish their work anonymously and maximize the chances of success while protecting their true identity.

While not many writers use a pen name or a pseudonym in today's digital world, keeping them has been a norm among classical writers from the previous centuries. There have been multiple reasons why they'd write under a pen name apart from the primary purpose of protecting their true identity.

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How to Write Under a Pen Name?

Writing something that you wish to publish under a different name? Well, there are a few steps that can help you through the process.

Dive in to learn how to write under a pen name!

Find a Pen Name & Claim for it

Wondering how to write under a pen name? The first step is to find your pen name and claim for it. When picking a pen name, the primary thing to keep in mind is to ensure it does not resemble that of a popular person or celebrity within your state or town.

Once you've picked a unique and appealing pen name, check through the trademark site of your site to make sure there isn't any chance of infringement.

Now that you're sure that your pen name isn't under the use of any other public figure, secure a domain under your pen name so that people can link to you via your pseudonym. If you plan to receive payments on your pseudo name, there's a legal requirement to file a fictitious business name statement.

Use the Name in Your Paperwork

Picking a pen name isn't enough to write under it; you'll also have to make it look yours by adding it to some paperwork. For instance, put your pseudonym on your book covers and your copyright notice. Use it in any legal documentation related to your writing in place of the real name.

It can help you maintain the pseudonym in the longer run, receive payments over the pen name without hassle, and certainly build your brand over it.

Inform the Publisher about Your Pen Name

Informing your publisher about the pseudonym is very important. Unless you're self-publishing, there's a massive chance that the publisher calls for your explanation over picking a pen name.

It's always an ideal way to inform your publisher about the pseudonym and that too with a detailed explanation. Either you want to protect the identity or write under a pen name for other reasons, most publishers understand your concerns and are flexible with your choice.

Register the Work under Your Pen Name

Another important step that counts in publishing under a pseudonym is to register your work under the same. Registering your work is crucial whether you're publishing with your real name or a pen name. However, you must register under the similar name that you're publishing with. It can help you handle the copyrights and payment issues much easier.

When Should You Write Under a Pen Name?

Wondering why use a pen name instead of your real one? Well, there are multiple reasons why an author might want to write under a pen name.

A few prominent among them that are also accepted largely across the glove includes –

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When Trying a New Genre

 If you're already popular as an author who writes about a certain genre, trying hands-on an entirely new genre always calls for a pen name or pseudonym.

Because the stories or novels an author writes are often considered a narration of their personal lives or personalities, readers tend to build a particular perception about them, consider Agatha Christie, who was famous for writing mystery novels, and the readers genuinely loved her for that.

But when she entered the genre of romance fiction, she knew her readers wouldn't really accept this big shift, so she picked a pen name, Mary Westmaccot. It helped her build a new and fresh audience in the romance genre and gave her the freedom to explore all the edges of this new and incredible field of writing.

When in Need of a Fresh Start

Not all the books you write become a bestseller. Instead, some of them fail you and also get universal hatred for reasons you'd never understand. But the failure of one book could stop you from writing as an author, right? Pen pseudo names bring you the opportunity to start fresh and new.

Your name might have gone into the not-so-good writers list of most readers, but your words can still make a hit. So, whenever you're stuck in such a situation, it's always ideal and legal to pick a pen name and start fresh.

Writing isn't about names but about the words and emotions you carry forward to the readers. However, the readers are likely to build attachments or resistance with authors' names.

But you can always reach out to your readers' hearts even if they resist reading your books by simply writing under a pen name.

When You Want to Protect Your Identity

Through today's era of digitalization, there isn't much about pseudo names. Most people have the freedom to write under their real names; people back in the centuries were subjected to many limitations.

For instance, women in the 19th century weren't allowed to write, so tons of female authors wrote under a pen name to keep their identities protected. Also, the screenwriters from Hollywood who got blacklisted in the era of McCarthy, 1940s, and 1950s, used to write under pen names.

Most people who want to protect their identities at the day jobs are also likely to write under pen names because people wouldn't really accept a surgeon writing mystery-murder novels under his real name.

So, if you have the urge to write but you cannot reveal your true identity for some reason, there's no hassle in writing under a pen name.

When Your Real Name Is Already in Use

There could be thousands of other people sharing your name, and even if one of them is a popular writer, you shall pick a pen name to write, or else your work would get mixed with the already popular writer.

Also, if you have a common name that's less likely to get your readers' attention, writing under a pen or pseudo name could be your ideal way out.

Pros & Cons of Writing a Book Under a Different Name

Similar to most things, writing under a pen name also comes with pros and cons. If you're planning to write a book under a different name, here's the list of a few pros and cons that you must consider.

Pros of Writing under a Pen Name

Here's why using a pen name could be beneficial for you as an author!

Identity Protection 

The most powerful yet attractive advantage of writing under a pen name is that it helps protect your identity. Not everyone is born with the courage to speak under their real name, and some people like to keep their passion and profession separate.

So, writing under a pen name is the most likely option for them as it prevents them from getting noticed and provides the platform to speak their hearts out at the same time.

Most authors who write over controversial topics such as politics, romance fiction, erotic bondage fiction, etc., are likely to opt for a pseudonym. It prevents them from becoming part of a scandal of getting their personal lives mixed with what they write.

Brand Popularity 

Writing under a pen name majorly contributes to building a popular brand. If you're planning to write a book and feel hesitant to express yourself fully, the idea is to write the book under a different name. It will help you inflict a righteous tone in your writing while keeping your content more authoritative and mysterious than what you'd have written under your real name.

Suppose your name is Bob Wane, and your genre is romance fiction. Wouldn't it be a rightful branding tactic to pick some fancy name in place of Bon Wane? Your pen name picked in relevance with the genre you write in plays a crucial role in building your brand.


You must have understood that names play a great role in building an author's brand up till now, right? Well, that's a hundred percent true. And so, picking a unique yet appealing pen name could help an author earning distinction over others.

Especially when you have a common name that's least likely to give away a literary or poetic vibe, picking a pseudonym is the best option.

Also, if you have got a complex name that's difficult to spell and memorize, picking a simpler yet attractive pen name could save you from becoming a forgotten writer.

Freedom of Speech 

Most writers have to face this issue – they are pressured not to express their opinions or limit their creativity to live in a particular society. Not everyone is comfortable writing everything they want under their original names.

It could pose certain threats to their respect and even lives at times.

Thus, writing under a pen name brings great freedom of speech for the writers. They don't have to limit themselves and could easily get along with society without mixing their personal lives with what they write.

Protection from Controversies

Some books, specifically about the forbidden genres, are likely to create controversies about the author. This is because the readers often mix up the author's personal views and lifestyle with their books' characters. Pseudonyms can save you from becoming a part of such conspiracies as a writer.  

Pen names, by all means, protect your individuality and personal life from getting into any jeopardy.

Cons of Using a Pen Name

Here's how using a pen name could bring problems to you as an author!

Loss of Credits

Writing under a pen name is putting down all the credits you could have enjoyed as an author, in other words. It takes a lot of time to build an association with your pen name. In addition, the readers do not readily accept you as the author of an incredibly successful book that you've written under a pseudonym. Thus, all the perks and credits you could enjoy from your literary success using the real name have to be sacrificed when picking to write under a pen name.

It depends upon what matters for you, either the protection of your identity or the perks of literary success. Only deciding what matters could help you make the right decision.

Difficulty in Transition

Suppose you'd pick a pen name in fear of failure, but your book has become a bestseller. You must now be tempted by the idea of writing more books with your name and getting the due credits and perks.

But wait!

Now that you've got the popularity under a pseudo name, it would be really difficult to make the transition. And even if you really make it happen, you wouldn't be really able to enjoy the credits and perks from the bestseller you published under a pen name.

Complicates Money

No matter how hard your passion for writing, one reason for publishing would always be the money. There's a lot of money you could earn from the books you've published, either in the form of sales or royalties.

However, publishing a book under different circumstances could create multiple money-related problems. You've to go through a lot of paperwork and legal formalities to get paid for the book you've written yourself finally.

Thus, if you find money the most important aspect, writing under a pen name isn't a good idea.

Promotional Difficulties

While pen names largely contribute to building your brand, they might create problems when it comes to the personal promotion of your books. Personal promotion is an integral part of the entire book marketing process, and it's likely to grab a massive audience.

However, writing under a pen name could somehow stop you from promoting your book on personal social platforms – resulting in the loss of potential readers.

Lack of Loyalty

Earning and retaining readers' loyalty is difficult when you write under a pen name. As you write under a pseudonym, you have to hide behind to maintain the pen name even if you want to declare your identity later. And many readers like to relate with the author for building loyalty – which they couldn't in the case of a pseudo name. So, they often lose loyalty for your books and are likely to prefer authors writing under their true identities.

Writing under a pen name is neither all good nor all bad. It totally depends on your scenario and what matters to you to decide whether you'd write and publish a book under your true identity or a pen name. However, the above list of pros and cons can surely help you make a rightful decision.

Five Most Popular Authors Who Wrote Under a Pseudonym

While there's a long list of authors who opted to write under a pen name and became incredibly popular with their best sellers, we've put together the five most popular among them.

Take a look at them and get inspired!

  • Lewis Carroll, author of the famous children books Alice in the Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, is actually Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He chose writing under a pen name because his real writing was pretty long and complex to be spelled and memorized among the audience.

  • The Bonte sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily, are popular for their work under the gender-neutral names Acton Bell, Currer, and Ellis, respectively. They did so because writing under female names wouldn't have helped the audience take their writings seriously.

  • Isaac Asimov published a series of Juvenile Science Fiction books under a pseudonym, i.e., Paul French. He did so to avoid any controversies that were most likely to occur because of the forbidden genre he writes about.

  • An insanely popular author, Stephen King published five of his books under the pen name Richard Bachman during the 1970s and 80s. He did so because of the unlikely rule prevailing in that era which forced every author to publish only one book every year.

  • Joanne Rowling, popular for writing the Harry Potter Series under her pen name K. Rowling picked another pseudonym Robert Galbraith to get her Crime Fiction novel The Cuckoo's Calling published. She did so because of her utmost desire to write for this different genre, and her popularity in fantasy writing wasn't allowed to write with a similar name.

If you want assistance with writing a best-seller, need an expert to edit it, or simply want a reliable publisher to bring your book to the limelight, Pro Book Writing has got your covered. We house a team of book writing and publishing experts that has already helped several authors find the limelight.

We provide a broad range of services including ghost writing, editing, script writing, book trailers, book design, book marketing and a lot more.

For information about  our services, feel free to get in touch with us or  get a quick quote here. We will love to assist you with your book!

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