Tag Archives: pen names

Pen Name PSA

6 Apr

I’ve been to 7 writerly things in the last 1.5 months. At every event I’ve seen the same thing happen — and it shocked me every single time.

Sometimes it came from readers or bloggers, but sometimes it came from other writers *who should know better.* It’s a question that is not only rude but can put an author’s livelihood at jeopardy:

Is that a pen name?

First off, if I had a pen name, I’d have a REALLY good reason for it. Life is too complicated to balance multiple personalities. I never know how to introduce one of my friends. After those awkward, I’ll just let her introduce herself moments got out of hand, she finally said, “If the person is a friend, feel free to give them my real name.”

I hate having to make that call for something she feels strongly about. I finally just decided to introduce her to everyone as her pen name.

Beyond that, people have pen names for very real reasons. We’ve all seen it in the writing community and in the news: Writer’s who have lost jobs, their standing in their community, their place in their church, the respect of the peers because they write (typically Romance, Erotica or Fantasy)… all because people are nosy.

So it comes down to this: Everyone at these events claims to love books and writers. If you do, you won’t put them on the spot. You’ll respect them and their privacy. You won’t share if you overhear a name slip. You will be in on the secret and respectful of it.

Please, don’t make me stand next to a friend who is trying to keep her real life separate (typically for important reasons) and by utilizing a pen name and make her squirm. It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing and unfair.

If you love writers, protect them.

For the first time ever on the blog I’m going to ask you this: TELL OTHERS! Tell others how awkward, embarrassing and unfair that question is.


Pen Names, Screen Names, Networking & Building Your Brand

12 Aug

I was talking with a friend last week about branding. It could be the business background in me, but I love branding. One of the things I liked about the Twilight series is you can pick a Twilight book out from 100yards – yeah, sweet. It has A Look.


I’m sure if you’re here enough, you know that I’m one of the co-founders of Excerpt Monday. Mel and I have been talking over the last few months about where we want EM to go. There’s a lot to think about:

  • Who are our participants?
  • Who is our audience?
  • What do they need?
  • What do they NOT KNOW they need?
  • Can we give it to them?
  • How can we fix issues and be easy service wise (this one is huge and is what brought about all the questions in the first place)
  • How can we make our site memorable and easily recognizable.

That last one? That’s the easiest part of branding to identify. The look.


But what about branding for authors? Yeah, we’re to a point in technology where authors are expected to know more, do more, be more than just a writer. I have thoughts about this, but that’s a different blog. Part of this — to me — is branding and building your network.


I’m a HORRIBLE networker. I hate it. I hate it even when I’m not networking and honestly enjoy the person. There’s a lot of successful authors out there who have been burnt. I can tell you that we unpubbed writers have a lot of stories we can tell you about being burnt by those burnt-pubbed authors. I’ll admit that two of my favorite authors treated me horribly when I met them. I was embarrassed just for introducing myself in a networking forum and they looked bad to the people around us. (Before you start wondering, one actually went on the attack after “Hi, I’m Bria and I just want to tell you how much I love your books.” — I know, how dare I, right?)


And so, I don’t buy either of their books any more. I live 2 blocks from a library. I don’t HAVE to buy any books. I vote with my wallet, just like every other aspect of life. Now, to me, part of those authors’ brand is “rude to the reader” or “impatient with her audience” — Does anyone truly want that to be part of their brand?


Yeah, me neither.


Rounding the corner on this post… This is the what my friend and I were originally talking about: Pen Names.


She doesn’t have one. That’s fine. Except, she doesn’t have a “real name” up either.


She’s past her first book, has a blog, is in writer’s forums and goes by a screen name. I’m flabbergasted by this. How many people has she met that when her book comes out would have said “Oh, she was in such and such with me. I should pick that up?” How is she going to make the jump on her blog and site from a screen name to a pen name. Contest wins are posted in her real name, who will make the connection when she picks a pen name…does she even want them to make the connection?


And so, we’ve gone back and forth. Her saying that until she’s published it “doesn’t matter THAT much” and me saying “this is the stuff you need to think about now.”


I’d love to hear your thoughts. Branding? Names? Burnt-Authors and Burnt by Burnt-Authors? To me, it’s all part of the publishing world. To her, not so much… How about to you?