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Forums > Covers & Cover Art > PEN NAME or REAL NAME

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Tara Rose
Posts: 6
Hello Everyone,

As I sit plowing through my first book I lay awake last night wondering, should I use my real name or a pen name?

2016 Jan 08 07:01 pm |Quote

Aspiring Author
Trixie Vardon
Posts: 10
Hi Jane,
Well I'm using a pen name - for two reasons, one because my real name is just completely uninspiring, and two because I wish to remain totally anonymous. I'm just not comfortable being centre stage anywhere.

2012 Jun 19 06:06:56 am | Quote

Cover Artist
Posts: 14
I use a pen name, and soon I'll be filling out the paperwork to "do business as" my pen name so I can keep it when I do book covers. My real name is one letter different from a famous actress, and while I could use some of her publicity (until people realize the mistake), I'd rather not. Plus, I'm in academia, and I don't want my students reading my steamier writing. Once I'd decided to write under a different name, I figured I couldn't do my art under my real name without them being linked publicly (my writer friends are my clients, after all), and I didn't want that to happen, so...  

2012 Jun 19 06:06:53 am | Quote

D. F. Krieger
Posts: 3
In a sense my pen name is my real name. It is simply my first two real initials. I suggest a pen name for those writing genres that might cause an issue in your day job field. Otherwise, it is simply your comfort level or persona that matters.

Pen names can be rather handy things, but if you have no reason to hide your identity, there is no reason for a pen name...unless you just want to.
2012 Jun 19 07:06:59 pm | Quote

Tara Rose
Posts: 6
THANKS so much everyone for your valuable input!

I'm thinking of going with my real name, I have no reason to hide, I am who I am, I love what I'm doing and well if someone doesn't love me for that then they don't have to read my books right?

2012 Jun 19 08:06:13 pm | Quote

Cover Artist
Posts: 14
Sounds good, Jane! Good luck with it!
2012 Jun 20 04:06:19 pm | Quote

Cover Artist
Char Adlesperger
Posts: 10
Personally I go with a pen name, that way you can be even more creative.
2012 Jun 26 11:06:53 pm | Quote

Jan Graham
Posts: 6

When I was trying to decide whether to use a pen name or not I posted the question on facebook, gotta love social media. I asked "Should I use a pen name and what should it be?" to my surprise, all my friends replied and said use your real name, that's who we know you as and that's who we want you to be when you're published and successful. They have such faith in me  

Can I also add when I say I asked my friends on facebook they were actually my friends, I didn't have FB connections to anyone I didn't know personally at that stage so I knew the answers would be honest and coming from a place of having my best interest at heart.

Needless to say I chose to publish under my real name, Jan Graham. 

2012 Jul 21 12:07:07 am | Quote

RNC Administrator
Cover Model Jimmy Thomas
Posts: 192
I had posted this under another discusion here for a question of what is branding, and I went on tohow to use your name, which fits with this discussion, so here it is ;)

Well said Julie! In addition (which I could go on for hours with this topic, which is what I do at my branding workshops ;)), as a model, author, cover artist, editor and reviewer (and yes many others, but I'll list these for example), your name is part of your brand, it affiliates your brand with you for people to know, recognize and then have the thought in their head of what and who you are, your professionalism, level of quality, your type of business, your style, attitude, dedication, demeanor... everything about you and what you offer to the consumer and public is.

So, do NOT introduce yourself by your real first name when meeting someone in this biz, or even a random stranger who could be a consumer to you. Your first name is for family, best friends, dates, babysitter and phone reps. ALWAYS introduce yourself and sign your name in correspondences as your FULL PEN NAME or cover artist name, editor name, reviewer name... Your BUSINESS name. Try and find ONE email or message where I've signed my email as "Jimmy". You won't find one anywhere! My name is "Jimmy Thomas"... period!

Do you know who Steven is? You know, Steven, remember, Steven? No? Hmmmm, I wonder why. Let me try again... Do you know Steven King? Ahhhhh, did a light bulb go off above your head? ;) How about this one... Do you know Eleanor? You know, that author we met, Eleanor? No? Ok, let me try again the way it should be... Do you know Nora Roberts? Ahhhhh, big difference huh? Do you think Nora Roberts would introduce herself to you at a romance novel event as her real name Eleanor or even Eleanor Robertson, or even Nora? No, ONLY Nora Roberts, as that is who she is to you, and that is all that matters to you to her.

My friends introduce me to their friends as "Jimmy Thomas" as they are so used to hearing me say my whole name, as well as reading it in my emails, so to them my first and last name is one name, as it is part of my brand. My name announces my brand. When you hear or read my name, you instantly think of everything I am, everything I do, everything I bring to the table, my personality, etc. So when someone says "How about Jimmy Thomas?", everything you know about me comes to mind. Those things quickly come to mind because I have put them out there repeatedly and consistently, creating a brand for myself.

So who you are, what you do, the way you do it, and the quality you produce, is your brand. You build that by repetition, networking and exposure of "you" as much as possible. Yes that is a lot of work, but hard work is what pays off ;) So branding in short, is giving yourself an identity in thought, not a word or a logo or a symbol, as the name, logo and symbol are only identifiers TO your brand, but without a brand they are just random names, random logos, random symbols on a page of millions of others, not used by anyone yet ;)

Jimmy Thomas - RNC

2012 Jul 21 08:07:23 pm | Quote

Amber Dane
Posts: 1

I always felt nervous about writing out my full name with my novels, but getting better at doing it. Thanks for the post Jimmy Thomas! 

2012 Jul 24 05:07:53 pm | Quote

Novel Editor
Julie L. York
Posts: 26
I also had this in another place...I didn't see this area when I posted it. 
"I've chosen to use my real name, Julie is kinda hard to shorten (not gonna go there with Jules-so many reasons). And my middle name is old fashioned, not what I want to convey. Thought about using my maiden name, but I've been a York almost as long as I was a King (I'm totally serious about that too, and my sister-in-law was a Knight till she married my brother, a King)."

The more I've thought about this topic since, and reading others' replies, the more comfortable I am with my decision. Was it hard to do, absolutely yes. No one likes to hear criticism and negative remarks, and using your real name can make that hard to swallow. But still, I'm writing everything as me. In the end, the best legacy I can leave my kids are my words and actions. I want them to know I did it, facing the like and dislike, as myself.

Now, that's not to say I'd never consider using a pen name to throw something totally off the wall out there just for fun. Maybe. But, good or bad, loved or hated, I am me.
2012 Jul 24 06:07:49 pm | Quote

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