Pen Names

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Pen Names

Many people use pen names when writing or publishing, and others may just shorten their names to their first and middle initials and their last name. Sometimes they do this because they don’t want others to know they published a book, and other times they might think a certain group of people will not accept or read

A Whole New Name

An example of a whole new pen name is Erin Hunter. She is actually a group of people, but they couldn’t fit all of their names on the book cover. Another problem with having a group of people write a book is that you never know whose last name the book will be filed under. For example, let’s look at Ginger and I. We’re writing a story together, but we’ll probably just put both our names under the cover and have librarians file it under Ginger’s name, since her last name comes before mine in alphabetical order, and I don’t care that much.

Initials to Hide Behind

Other authors, like J.K. Rowling, may choose to use their first and middle initials, leaving only their last name complete. In J.K. Rowling’s case, she did this because her editor thought that boys may not want to read a book by a women. (Remember, this was in 1997. Since then, many stereotypes have been eliminated.) This is actually a rather logical thing to do because people don’t look up your first name to find a book, just your last.

No Pen Name

The majority of authors don’t use pen names, because they want their readers to be able to connect with them, whether with a love of the outdoors or owning a dog, it’s whatever the author chooses to show. That said, authors without pen names usually have the longest acknowledgements–when you’re real, you have real people to thank. Then again, many people I know feel connected to Erin Hunter and J.K. Rowling because they still do have that little “About the Author” section.

That said, if you ever write a book and don’t know whether to use a pen name, initials and a last name, or no pen name at all, you can just refer back here and think (hard!) about the pros and cons.

~ Ash

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One response »

  1. Hey, that was pretty interesting. Good post. Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize pen names were pretty widely used. Another famous example (besides JK Rowling and Erin Hunter) is Mark Twain. And I think some people think William Shakespeare is a pen name. I haven’t researched that one though.

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