Pseudonym or Real Name?

I’m sure every author has to decide this some time.  Do you use a pseudonym or stick with your real name?

I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to both.  If you use a pseudonym, you can have a degree of privacy.  It also allows you to write different genres under different names and keep them separate.  If you’re a best-seller, maybe you won’t be recognised in public.  Disadvantages?  That’s a tough one.  Maybe it feels like it’s separate from yourself, even though it is you.

As for using your real name, I think it’s closer to you.  It is yours, not your pseudonym’s.  And when people meet you, it really is you.  You’re not known as another name, so they can actually address you with your name.  I think it would feel strange if people addressed me with a different name.  But on the other hand, you’re easier to find online.  Less privacy.

In my case, I’m using my real name.  It’s a fairly uncommon name, but not a difficult one.

What do you think?  Do you have a pseudonym?  Or do you prefer to use your real name?

26 thoughts on “Pseudonym or Real Name?”

  1. I would normally stick to my real name, unless if I was writing something so explosive that I was worried about people’s reactions to it. People seem to find out pseudonyms eventually if they really want to. I think it’s hard to maintain privacy in today’s world anyway. I also think every writer has an ego and we like to be acknowledged for what we do.

    1. Hmm, looks like we’ll have competition with Jeffrey Archer for the best of the Archers, huh?

      I completely agree about the ego thing. We want our books attached to our names. It’s like telling the world, look at this, this is my book.

  2. I agonized over putting my real name on my blog for a while. I’m glad I did though – it’s awkward trying to pretend you’re someone you’re not, even if it’s just a name.
    Having said that, I have a children’s book written which, if I ever find an artist for it and get it published, I’ll do so under a pseudonym. That much of a mix of genres (between a kids’ book and what I’m working on now which is paranormal romance/horror) I think would be confusing to people.

    1. I agree. I write science fiction, though will do some fantasy, as well. But I have had a children’s book idea for a while, one in which I’d like to also do the art for. But do I use my real name or a pseudonym? Tough decision.

  3. I would use a pseudonym because I have a friend turned cyberbully/internet stalker. Unfortunately, I trusted her at one point so she knows my real name. We met through fanfiction. She was a devoted reader of my story, and she was a newbie, so I offered to help beta read her stuff. I’m not going to get into the drama, but things got really bad. She’s the reason I deleted my fanfiction profile and stories. I nearly relapsed into anorexia because of her and her friends, and nothing is worth that. I’m afraid if I get a book published she will create multiple identities to flame the hell out of my stuff. That sounds paranoid, but my friends and family agree that she would do something like that given the atrocious acts she has already committed against me.

    For this reason I created a new e-mail account for my blog that is not associated with my real name. This cyber-bully is still creating new identities and sending messages to my friends to get my new penname. I told only my closest friends because I can trust them. If she finds out she will follow me and harass the hell out of me and everyone else that I know on WordPress. She has sent all of my fanfiction friends multiple messages, and while I have told them to ignore it, she persists. It’s disgusting behavior. My friends had nothing to do with this, so I don’t know why she keeps trying to drag them into it.

    I bring this up because it’s possible for someone to really mess your life up if they know your real name. After that experience I was scared I was going to have to change my legal last name because I was worried about what she could do. I would advise everyone to use a pseudonym because mine is not an isolated experience. I have heard of this happening to other people. The scariest part is that this cyberbully was really nice in the beginning, so there was no way for me to know things would turn out like this. Therefore I only give my real name to people I can trust, and I can count that number on one hand. Just my opinion on the matter. One of my best friends is the same way because she has also been the victim of cyberbullying. She doesn’t even use her real name on Facebook.

    Of course if I become a well known writer then it’s a moot point, but given the fact that there is probably a 0.001% chance of that happening I’ll cross that bridge if I ever come to it XD

    1. Very unfortunate that happened. I guess that is one of the disadvantages of using your real name, harassment. But I can’t imagine a bestselling author getting harassed. That would just backfire on the harasser. If you become a bestseller, I have to wonder if things will improve.

  4. I am at the point in my writing where I am content to stay “small” and relatively unknown, as I build my skills and begin to establish a base. I currently use my “real” name Peggy Cadwallader, but it’s 11 letters long and hard for most people to pronounce, even my brother still gets its wrong! I often truncate it down to just “Peggy C”.
    I haven’t had any particular issues like Paper Butterly has had to contend with, and I know cyber bullying is horrific and damaging. My son has stopped using his surname and just uses his first and middle names for similar reasons.
    Should I get to the point, lord willing, of being ready to publish, then I will have to make choices. Your NAME is important, both as “BRAND” and it’s a shame and downright criminal when we are denied the opportunity and freedom to be ourselves because of stalkers, thieves, hackers, and those with evil intent. The choice for using a pseudonym should be a private one, not one you’re forced into by circumstances.

    1. Yes, very good points. Bestselling novelists use their name. Their name is bigger than the title on the book, because it’s not the title that sells, it’s their name that sells. The name is the brand. I’m slowly building my brand by using my name on this blog, as well as all of my social media accounts. My name is easy enough to remember, but also very uncommon. To be honest, there is another Jay Dee Archer out there, and unfortunately has a criminal record. I was a bit surprised.

      I’m not sure where to put the stress in your last name 🙂

  5. My writing name is my real name, just with my first name initialized and my middle name hanging out there. I’ve always found my middle name to be a lot more interesting than my first, so this was a good opportunity to put it out there. I also considered changing my last name — Davis is just so dull — but at least it puts me in the early part of the alphabet.

  6. For me, using a pseudonym isn’t a dissociative thing because it is my name. It’s actually closer to me than my legal name right now (which I plan to change sometime in the future, but it’s not a priority). I come from a culture where surnames are important, and I love my name (all of them!), so my “pseudonym” choice was easy for me, not an issue of crisis. :]

    Besides, I try to make it as transparent as possible by using both names in public venues – vlogs, bios, blog, social media, etc. “Sierra AKA S. R. Carrillo, author of The Soul”… “S. R. Carrillo is the pen name of U.S. Army SGT Sierra Collett”… etc.

  7. Pseudonym, for a few reasons – I don’t want my personal faults to detract from the message of my writing, I think that a pseudonym is easier to ‘brand’, and its interesting to gauge the reaction of people who know you personally, but don’t know that the pseudonym is yours.

  8. I pen my Christian and mainline fiction under my real name. When I start publishing my fantasy/science fiction I’ll be using my pen name, Maggie Mahal, to differentiate between the two types.

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