How to Choose an Awesome Pen Name

Updated on December 4, 2018
K S Lane profile image

K S Lane enjoys reading, writing, and oxford commas. She penned her first novel at the age of twelve and has been writing ever since.

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.

This article lists 4 methods to help you pick the perfect pen name.
This article lists 4 methods to help you pick the perfect pen name. | Source

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!

Handy Tip!

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
Real Name
J. K. Rowling
Joanna Rowling
George Orwell
Eric Blair
Mark Twain
Samuel Clemens


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


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        9 months ago

        Hello K.S. Lane,

        Awesome Hub with cool ideas. Making up names is always fun for me.

        Thanks for sharing.

      • K S Lane profile imageAUTHOR

        K S Lane 

        13 months ago from Melbourne, Australia

        Hi Poppy! I can't really tell you what to decide, because what you chose will depend on a lot of different factors. When you say the publishing house was incompetent, do you mean that they didn't publish the books at all or that the quality just wasn't up to your usual standards? If they're really a "stain" like you say then distancing yourself from them by using a pen name is probably a good idea. However, it's a widely known fact that writers tend to be harsh on themselves. Are they really that bad? Did anyone buy/review them? Even having books that aren't so great out there might generate more interest in books you publish in the future, ie. if someone happened upon one of your old books they might be curious to see if you've got any current works. Also, do you have social media accounts linked to your real name that would be useful in promoting your new books? You can obviously still use social media accounts linked to your real name if you write under a pen name, but it can confuse some people if they're trying to find you online, which might be a motivation to stick with your real name when publishing. Whatever decision you make, I hope it works out for you!

      • poppyr profile image


        13 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

        I started a forum thread about this a few days ago but no one replied. I had books published a few years ago but the publishing house was incompetent so it didn't work out. In the future, should I use a pen name to avoid having the "stain" of the old books on my "record," as it were?

      • K S Lane profile imageAUTHOR

        K S Lane 

        13 months ago from Melbourne, Australia

        Thanks for your comment Pamela! You're absolutely right- the reason I had to pick a pen name in the first place was because someone was already publishing under my real name.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        13 months ago from Sunny Florida

        These sound like good suggestions, and there are so many authors that you do have to be creative.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)