From Authors to Authors: Pen Names, Why and When?

Hello everyone and a happy Saturday to you! Our From Authors to Authors series is back with a post on pen names, when to use them and why, from the brilliant Aimee Brissay. So tag along to find out everything about authors and their pen names.

Pen Names – Why and When to Use Them?

You have written a book. Woo-hoo! But now it’s time to hit that publish or submit button, and one of the most important questions comes to mind. Do you publish under a pen name or just use your own?

What’s a Pen Name?

Let’s see what a pen name is first and what is it used for. A pen name is a pseudonym under which an author wants to know or have his or hers works published. It can serve different purposes, such as hiding one’s true identity and/or gender, or simply providing a better with a specific genre.

Mark Twain comes to mind when talking about hiding identities, along with many other now famous writers, such as Zane Grey, JD Robb and, though a lot less known outside Romania, Carmen Silva. Under the name of Carmen Sylva hid Queen Elisabeth of Romania, the wife of the first monarch of our country, Karl the 1st.

Depending on the genre, the writer might need to hide their gender, often behind some initials, like JKK Rowling and JD Robb, or changing a part of their name or taking a different name altogether, like the Bronte sister, who have published under the male names of Curer Bell, Ellis Bell and Acton Bell.

In the MM genre, an interesting phenomenon takes places. Where at first most of the female writers chose male pen names, now many of the male writers are taking female pseudonyms. This comes as a response to the fact the vast majority of the readers is female and it seems to react better to a woman writer.

Also, a pen name, especially if the true identity of the wearer is not known to the public, can offer anonymity and some protection to the writer, especially when dabbling in the more controverts genres or tackling sensitive subjects. This can come in handy when writing erotica and not wanting your friends and family to know what the topic of your book is.

How Many Pen Names?

An author can have as many pen names as they like and this is where another role of the pseudonym comes in place. It connects the works of writers in a certain genre while separating from the rest of his stories in other genres. Readers are often picky and they might prefer to read in a certain genre and only in that one. A writer publishing MM might lose some of his or her followers if they publish MF under the same name. Of course, not only the pairing matters but the genre matters as well. The thriller seeking crowd might not react too well to, let’s say, an Angela Lansbury mystery. LA Witt comes to mind. She writes under four, yes you heard me, four different pseudonyms, split both by genre and pairing.

Of course, there are writers who decide not to bother with pen names and use their own name for everything they write, such as Alina Popescu. Her Bad Blood series is MF, while the rest of her books are MM, with the occasional MMM thrown in the mix.

When can you choose a pen name?

At the beginning of your career or any time along the way, when you want to write in more than one genre.

Whether you go with a pen name or without one for your books, make sure you have weighed all the arguments before making this decision. And remember, this might haunt you for the rest of your life.

Liked this post? Check out Aimee’s other post in this series – How to Write Series and Serials

Meet Aimee Brissay

Author Aimee BrissayBorn in Romania, land of the Iele and Vlad the Impaler, AIMEE BRISSAY has spent all her life surrounded by stories. She has ridden side by side with d’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers to retrieve the Queen’s diamonds, set sail on the Erasmus in search of the Japans, fell in love with Rhett Butler and roamed the Wild West alongside Old Shatterhand. She has walked in the footsteps of the Olympian Gods and searched for Zalmoxis’ sanctuary in the Carpathians. In her mind, she’s never been the damsel in distress but rather the knight in shiny armor fighting for a cause. Aimee Brissay loves each and every one of these characters with a passion, and has always had a soft spot for the men-on-men fellows.

With a background like this, turning to writing was no surprise. Aimee discovered Men-on-Men erotica early in life and has never looked back. After that first story, she devoured all the books she could find. And when she ran out, she decided to write her own. Aimee Brissay has over 10 stories published, varying from contemporary to fantasy and BDSM, men-on-men, men-on-men-on-men or on-women, and anything in between.

She can write anywhere, even in a crowded room or a busy subway station, but she loves solitude. When she’s not at her evil day job or she’s not torturing her characters in her latest WIP, she can be found writing or playing with her cats. Or her newly adopted dog, because 5 cats are just not enough.

She welcomes messages from readers and promises to answer all of them as soon as possible, though that can mean anything from one hour to a month.

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter and check out books by Aimee Brissay on Amazon.

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A pleasure to meet you! I’m Alina Popescu, an author, traveler, and hopeless coffee addict. I write urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and sometimes even contemporary stories. A significant number of my books are LGBTQ fiction and romance.

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