“Use a pen name,”they said. “It will be fun,” they said. Despite the assertive assurances that a pen name will make my literary career nothing but rainbows and sunshine, I’ve decided against using one for the following reasons:
- Misogynists. Brilliant female authors were forced to hide in the shadows of male pen names so that their works could be published (i.e., the Bronte sisters). It’s 2017, people. If I wanted to appease misogynists I wouldn’t write at all.
- Masculine/Feminine Genres. If someone shies away from reading my thrillers and psychological page turners because my name is feminine and not masculine then they are the sort of closed-minded sheep I don’t want reading my books. Seriously, I don’t want their $2.99. I’m good. Breaking barriers is a sort of hobby for me, genres included.
- Initials. So J.K. Rowling was smart, you say? Still, using initials is becoming too common place. Who uses initials when they introduce themselves in person? I ask you, whom?
- Titles. Once someone discovers that Lady Estons my legal title and not something I dreamed up in my head (hello American friends!), someone inevitably suggests that I use my title for sweet romance stories. This is a sticky place. My title represents not only my person but my family before me. It’s a bit like selling out by using my heritage. Besides, would you print your name as “Miss Jacobs” when a simple “Sally Jacobs” on a book cover will do? It’s a similar concept.
- Difficult Names. I understand my name might be challenging to pronounce or even spell if you don’t know French or any other Romantic languages but readers will certainly know I wrote a novel when they see my name. It’s easy to identify and creating your literary identity is what the jazz is about.
- Multiple Genres. Using pen names for authors who branch out to multiple genres is a popular practice for practical reasons. “Monica Jones” may write romance, “M. Jones” may write urban fantasy, and “M.A. Jones” may pen thrillers. But honestly, have you tried juggling multiple websites, pages, social media accounts, fan groups, and identities? I have and it’s exhausting as hell. The quick fix is to write a note informing readers that the romance novel is not akin to the urban fantasy. Generally speaking, authors list genres or series of books at the end of their novels anyway. That is how you keep it straight.
- Risqué, Risqué. Some authors use multiple pen names if one genre is risqué while others are not. If one fan group happens to be extremely conservative and decides my paranormals are controversial, guess what? They don’t have to read them. If the fan group that reads my paranormals thinks my historical fiction love stories are nothing but icing, that’s fine. To each their own. I don’t write to appease everyone. I write to appease myself (and for those who also happen to find the same things interesting. That’s the beauty of being an independent author). If you don’t like my other genres, keep your hands and wagging fingers to yourself.
True, every author must decide whether to use a pen name for themselves or not. For myself, I’ll remain where I am, thank you.