Friday, September 13, 2013

Do I need a pen name?

A fellow writer asked me yesterday my thoughts on pen names so I'll try to respond to that the best way I can.

I, technically, use a pen name because my name isn't really Pamela Caves anymore. When I first started seriously writing and submitting, it was my name but I have since married. However, I knew that having started with Pamela Caves, I should continue with it in my writing. I do use my real name, Pamela Gifford, to market my non-fiction, what little of it there is, but it made sense to continue to use Caves for my fiction. This happened through time and chance, nothing more.

The main pro of using a pen name is so you can (sort of ) detach yourself from the negativity that will inevitably pop its head up from time to time.  Sometimes a writer wants to hide and that's okay. You can do that on some level with a pen name.

The main con of using a pen name is that sometimes it doesn't seem like you get credit for the good stuff. But that is simply the basics.

There are many more factors you should consider before choosing whether or not to go with a pen name. Here's a great article from Writer's Relief that outlines the various reasons why authors might choose pen names.

Being of a somewhat feministic nature, I've toyed with the idea of setting up a male pseudonym to see if I would be taken more seriously as a writer. Right now, such an experiment is out of my time management, but I still may do that one day. :) In any case, if I had a REAL pen name ( I swear I'm not trying to be funny here), I might feel a little cheated on credit. Writers want to hide sometimes, but we want our credit. (Now I'm being funny.)

In any case, it is a personal choice. Evaluate your reasons for considering a pen name and if the pros outweigh the cons, go for it. Keep in mind though, once you start, you shouldn't stop mid-stream and start using a different name.

Also, when you are submitting as a new author, you should use your real name anyway. If your story is accepted, you can then ask that your byline contain a pen name.

One final thought, If you're considering a pen name, search for it and make sure there aren't a hundred writers with the same name. Don't choose a pen name that is hard to pronounce, and please oh please, don't pick something like Slade Overdrive or Diamond Glitter or some crap.

Peace, love, and what's in a name,


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