How to Choose an Awesome Pen Name
When starting out, many writers and authors chose to use a pen name. This could be because they want to protect their identity, because their real name is difficult to pronounce, because they're writing graphic romance novels that they don't want their family and friends finding out about, or simply because they've fantasized all their life about having a secret identity and a pen name is the closest they're ever going to get. Regardless of the reason, choosing a pen name can be difficult. Do you go with some kind of variation of your real name, or do you mix it up all together? How do you get that perfect mix of exotic and unique but easy to remember and pronounce? This article details four fool-proof ways to come up with an awesome pen name that will kick your writing career off on the right (or should I say write) foot.
1. The Street Name Formula
This is probably the easiest way to come up with a pen name, although it's not guaranteed to be a super spectacular one. The idea is to use the street you live on as a last name, and then put your two first initials before it. For example, if your name is Michael Alexander and you live on Opal Street, then your pen name would be M. A. Opal. Not fantastic, but certainly passable. For privacy reasons, people often substitute the name of the street they currently live on with one that they lived on when they were a kid, or maybe the street that their best friend lived on or a street that they just like the name of. Simple, right?
2. Name Generators
Using a name generator is probably the second easiest way of coming up with a pen name. A quick google search for 'name generator' is all you need to do. Some generators like this one will have different categories of names that you can generate. Try picking the category that most fits your genre of writing. For example, if you write fantasy, try generating a fantasy-like name. This will give readers a subtle hint about what kind of writer you are before they've even cracked open one of your books. For example, can you even imagine someone called J. R. R. Tolkien writing anything but whimsical epic fantasy? I know that I definitely can't.
3. Make it Up
Making up a pen name requires both creativity and skill. But hey, you're a writer, right? Your creativity and skill are second to none! No matter what genre you write, you've probably had to name a character before. Think of making up your own pen name as something similar, except the character in need of a name is you. As I mentioned before, when creating your new name try to stick within the boundaries of your genre. A sci-fi writer called Thorovus Al’Lem probably will raise a few eyebrows, while one called C. G. Novastellar would fit in perfectly. Also, it probably goes without saying, but don't go over the top. Admiral John Diamond Gold the Superior and Fantastic probably isn't the right choice, even if you are superior and fantastic. Try and stick with something simple that sounds decently professional and won't overshadow your writing.
4. Use a Combination
If none of these strategies are working for you, why not try a combination of all three? Use a made up first name and then your street name, or generate a last name and use your initials in front of it. My pen name, K. S. Lane, came from a combination of these strategies. Your imagination is the only limit!
One of the most important aspects of a pen name is that it's unique. Before you lock one in, make sure to google it and make absolutely sure that no one else is using it to publish under.
Famous Pen Name
J. K. Rowling
Many professional authors and amateur writers use pen names. It can be difficult to come up with a good one, but between using the street name formula, by googling a name generator, by making it up, or by using a combination of all three, you'll have a unique, genre-specific and professional pen name in no time!
Questions & Answers
© 2018 K S Lane