Should You Have a Pen Name as a Writer

Last year I wanted to diversify my writing. I thought I would try writing erotic fiction. Officer Harlan was my first attempt at erotica, it received some brilliant feedback. Over two thousand views in a month. Strangely few people wanted to clap for it and admit they had read erotica.

It reminds me of the time 50 Shades was released, kindle sales doubled. No one fancied being caught on the train reading that.

As a writer, who is also a teacher the problem with producing erotica was that my students may see it. Although, for many, if they had read it, that would have been the first thing they had read. Still, I couldn’t take the chance, so I used a pen name.

I didn’t just use the pen name for this one article. I used it for other articles and Quora. Many writers speak about the benefits of answering questions on Quora. I hated it and deleted it within a week.

Disadvantages of pen names.

The main things that convinced me to stop using my pen name were the fact I was spreading myself too thin. I felt that I could not dedicate enough time to both accounts.

Whilst trying to keep both accounts profitable, I spent more time marketing than I did writing. My writing began to suffer, due to my divided attention.

As all writers know with extra work comes extra worry. This is especially true if you wish to maintain a level of professionalism and quality over two accounts. Something had to give before my mental health did.

In the end, I deleted the pen name account. I transferred the posts to my main account, vocal media account and other publications.

Advantages of pen names

It wasn’t all negative with my experimenting. Having a pen name gave me the freedom to write more fluidly. To not worry about people reading my posts and being offended.

There are issues with my family and friends, that I could speak about without offending anyone. I’m not the type of writer who writes to make a point at the expense of family and friends.

Pen names allow you to separate your personal life from your professional life. I have tried to do this using my middle initial for writing.

As writers, we are notorious for spreading ourselves too thin. Increasing our workload unnecessarily. Whether it is through writing schedules or social media marketing.

Overall pen names work for many people. The success is better when you start from the beginning with your pen name and build a following as you go with this. My mistake was trying to run two separate accounts rather than the one under a pen name.

Have you had success with a pen name?

Published by Sam H Arnold

Sam H Arnold is a writer of True Crime, Parenting and Writing Tips articles. If you have enjoyed her work you might consider donating her a coffee on Ko-Fi. Links to this and all her other work can be found on the about me page.

9 thoughts on “Should You Have a Pen Name as a Writer

  1. My pen name book is doing well, which makes me super happy 🙂 I decided on a pen name because it was so outside of the genres I’ve tried with my own name… which I guess has become a pen name after marriage. LoL

    I think the main reason a pen name works for me is because, as someone who has been stalked before, I am very anonymous online, and I don’t attach myself (photos, social media, etc) to my writing. So the book is what I showcase, while I myself stand back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you go with a pen name, be aware you have to decide if you want to tell the Copyright Office your real name. If you don’t, then it has a small impact on copyright length. If you do, then your real name will be searchable through the Copyright Office.

    I wouldn’t count on a pen name allowing one to be anonymous online. There’s way too many ways to figure out a person’s real name from their pen name no matter how different the pen name is from the real name.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw where you decided against it, but my comment is for those who are doing it or are considering doing it.

        I would probably go with a pen name as there are too many authors with my name out there. Hard to compete with too many authors with the same name. The only advantage in my case is that are so many with my name that finding me would be a tad harder than someone with a less common name if I acquired a stalker.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve authored five books using my real name. I just signed a contract to publish a second edition of one of my books. My real name is on the contract and the contract also states that I’m using a pen name, so it won’t be like having two accounts. It’s an experiment, and an experience. So I shall see ….

    Liked by 1 person

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