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Rethinking Pseudonyms

I’ve written about pseudonyms on this blog before. They have a long history in literature and the arts, and even nowadays on the Internet, many people choose to comment on blogs or maintain their Twitter presence under a pseudonym.

Some authors have pseudonyms because their real name doesn’t seem right, for whatever reason (it may be hard to pronounce, hard to spell, or just doesn’t sound like an “author”). Typically these people have their entire online persona and write all their books under this pseudonym, so for them, it’s not as much of an issue.

There are others who write different genres under different names. And still others who are re-launching their careers under a different name to escape unhappy sales figures from a previous writing life. Other authors have the same name as a celebrity and take on a pseudonym to avoid confusion.

But I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time we rethink the idea of pseudonyms for authors. This isn’t easy (some of my own clients took on a nom de plume at my advice), but times change and it often requires we change our thinking. What makes me bring up this whole topic?

1. Authenticity.

I somewhat agree with Nathan Bransford’s blog post last Thursday in which he says, “On the Internet, there is no such thing as a brand. There is only you.” In the article he talks about how people online want authenticity. When we’re interacting with others via social media, we don’t want to interact with a “brand” or a false front, we want to interact with a person. I think it’s difficult to be a real person, be “you,” when you’re not actually “you.”

Of course, my clients who have pen names feel like they are actually “themselves,” just under a different name. They haven’t invented someone new and different. The pen name is not a false front, it’s just a different name.

There’s also the fact that much of what we see online is not, in fact, authentic. There are lots of fake names, lots of anonymous commenters, and most of all, there is a lot of marketing. Is that really “authentic”? Can we really say that the internet is all about being real? The question remains… how important is authenticity and do pseudonyms jeopardize it?

2. Social media management is a pain.

If you have two or more names, managing social media can become a real problem. Staying on top of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. is hard enough with ONE name; trying to do it for two or more personas can be absolutely crazy-making (or impossible).

3. What does your alter-ego look like? 

There’s the issue of the author photo. Can you use the same photo if you’re out there on the Internet under two or more names? And the author website—do you give your secret away or do you have separate websites for your different pen names?

It’s all so complicated! What’s the answer?

In a situation where an author has written in one genre and wants to publish in another…I’d like to say that they should just keep one name. But will readers be confused by an author who writes both upmarket women’s fiction and YA paranormal romance? Maybe so. I could see a website with separate tabs—whole separate sections of the site—for each genre. But would that be even more difficult to manage? Perhaps having separate names for different genres makes things easier for the author, not harder.

What about situations where an author has poor sales figures but has a new book with terrific potential? I wish publishers and booksellers would go ahead and try again with that author under their same name. Let’s stop trying to pull something over on readers. Let’s give authors a chance to reinvent themselves without having to re-invent their name. But would there be a problem selling it to readers?

In this world where many of us are present and visible 24/7 on the Internet, pseudonyms are going to be more and more difficult to manage, and less effective at accomplishing their goals. It’s a dilemma.

We’re not going to completely get away from pseudonyms, since there are real reasons people use them. However, for now I’d say, only use one if it’s crucial – if there’s no other way. And if you use one—it’s best to use only one name in your online presence—website, blog, Facebook, Twitter. Just inhabit that name and become it.

That’s just my thinking today… what are your thoughts?

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Why Use a Pen Name? | Cate Macabe on February 21, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    […] it will add complications to your life (and deciding which one to use is even more complex). Rachelle Gardner, author/blogger/editor, gives this advice for those considering using a pen […]

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  10. Ashley Prince on September 26, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    I just had this conversation with my mom yesterday. For her first book, she used the name Pamee Pankey. Her real name is Pamela Swalve (soon to be Pankey.) For her, she didn’t feel like it was a different name.

    I am currently working on my first book and trying to get my name out there. However, I realized a while ago, that I don’t want to write just teen fiction. I want to write some adult paranormal romance or mysteries. I debated using my name for the latter two, but using a pen name for when I write YA. But my problem I’m running into is that my name, Ashley Prince, is already associated with my WIP.

    This post has given me a lot to think about. 🙂

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  12. Didi Nicely on September 16, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    I have aspirations in the realm of fiction-writing, and have been slaving over an allegory for years now. But my name just doesnt flow, and it doesn’t sound like the name of someone to be taken seriously. Besides! I’m a minor! I’m only sixteen and I’m not sure I want a whole bunch of people I don’t know to be able to find or contact me easily.

  13. Nikole Hahn on September 11, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Ugh. I’d probably forget which fake name I was using and go completely out of character. LOL. I was using our church account for church business on FB and accidently answered a political question because I forgot which FB account I was using. For a second, I was Nikole Hahn instead of Church Secretary. Never do that again.

  14. CG Blake on September 9, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Great post, as usual. I write as CG Blake to separate my author identity from my professional identity. I would only consider another author name if I was writing in a different genre. My genre is family saga–not exactly the most popular genre these days. I am also a believer that you should write what you are passionate about. If you have a killer idea and it happens to be a murder/mystery, you shouldn’t keep it bottled up, but I do see how that could muddle your brand. I agree, though, it’s virtually (no pun intended) impossible to manage multiple author identities on social media.

  15. Sommer Leigh on September 9, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    I never wanted to not be authentic and I’m not trying to hide myself by taking a different last name than the one I married into (Sommer is my real first name.) I chose to drop my real last name and take my middle name as my last name to protect my husband.

    I write YA. He teaches English to high school seniors. He didn’t want to cross the streams unless you chose to and on his own terms. It made sense and considering how supportive he’s been of me, I could hardly deny him this request.

    I have considered genuinely changing my name legally to Sommer Leigh. Honestly? It is far more me than my married name anymore.

  16. Sara Bautista on September 7, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Interesting article. I had always thought I would use a pen name, not for any of the reasons you mentioned, but because I don’t want it to interfere with my day job. I work for an urban planning firm, and we are often hired by local governments for projects that require a lot of interaction with the public. I wouldn’t necessarily want someone associating me with a YA novel that has sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, KWIM?

    Of course there’s always the dream that someday I’ll quit the day job! =)

  17. Jami Gold on September 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I agree. I wrote a blog post a while back about “to pen name or not to pen name.” My advice was similar: If you’re going to use a pen name, start right away and go all in with it.

    As for reasons to use a pen name, one of the best that I can think of is to make yourself “Google-able.” We want to dominate our name space when someone Googles our name.

  18. Joelle Wilson on September 7, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    I have a super common last name and I’ve been wondering if I should change it when I become a published writer. It’s really just a last name issue for me.

    I have enough just keeping up with social media in one name, don’t think I’d want to try it with two.

    I’m not sure why readers would be confused if an author used the same name for different genres.

  19. Bea Turvey on September 6, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    Well, this is my pen because I don’t want my mum to find out (my books are a little racy)! When I publish my YA stuff I shall do so under my real name. I don’t have a problem with authors using different names for different genres; in fact, as a mum and librarian it makes it easier when selecting age appropriate material.
    I do however hate it when an author changes a name just to increase sales because they don’t want to be associated with a pevious flop. They’re trying to fool us and no-one likes to be made a fool of.
    Carla, I would choose Gade if your books are YA/romance/paranormal/sci fi and Olson if they more serious.

  20. Jo Murphey on September 6, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    What y’all fail to consider is while the cover has your pen name…your copyright page is your legal name.

  21. Anne E. Johnson on September 6, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    I’m mainly starting to get known for Middle Grade fiction. When I write other genres, I use my own name. But I’ve also started writing my first erotic novel, and for that I’ve invented a new name.

    I have not told that name to anyone but my immediate family, yet am in the process of getting this other name out in social media. When I blog or post as her, she is me, not a different personality. I have no idea how this will all turn out, but it sure is an interesting experiment so far!

  22. DanielaTorre on September 6, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    I’ve always had this stigma that female authors have a harder time reaching male readers. So it’d only be reasonable to use an ambiguous name or a pen name. I know this sounds really sexist (especially coming from a woman), but I think it makes sense where marketing is concerned. Names are prominently displayed on the cover… I don’t want to go into this with more detail, but certain books written by men tend to sell better than those by women, even if some women’s books are better.

    • DanielaTorre on September 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM

      ETA: Of course this is completely unfair! Sadly, however, it has some truth to it.

  23. Carla Olson Gade on September 6, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts on my pen name! Wow! Didn’t mean to make it all about me…but your input really helped. I write historical romance for those who wondered. Blessings all!

    Thanks, Rachelle, for your great blog and community of peers. Happy Birthday!!

  24. Jaime Wright on September 6, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    I think a pseudonym is a necessity sometimes, isn’t it? Who’s going to remember my married name – “Sundsmo” – let alone how to spell it and find me online? My maiden name, in this case, makes more sense – although it does throw me in at the end of the alphabet. There’s pros and cons, but the editor/agents I’ve talked with have all HIGHLY encouraged me away from my married Norwegian name 🙂

  25. David Todd on September 6, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    I have long thought about using a pen name. There’s nothing wrong with my real name, just that it’s kind of blah and not memorable. Plus, there’s a David K. Todd who writes engineering books, and I find several other David A. Todds out there in the world, including one other writer.

    But I came up with a good Internet handle that I think would make a good pen name: Norman D. Gutter. I’ve used that on Internet poetry and general writing sites, and everyone said they remembered it easily and thought it was a great name. My wife prefers I use my real name, so that’s what I used for my self-published books and freelance work.

    If I go with Norman D Gutter, I could name my writer’s newsletter “Gutter Talk”. Kind of catchy, don’t you think? I’m still contemplating it.

  26. Lee Libro on September 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I think the use of pseudonymns should only be entertained in three cases: 1) your real name is just too weird, Pepe Pumphouse for example, or your name is the same as someone else, already famous (this does happen) or 3) you are already well-known and wish to write out from under the public typecast of you. Oddly enough, people think my name is a pseudonym, because Libro means book, but in fact Lee Libro is real!

  27. Margaret Piton on September 6, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Thanks for your ideas. I’m wrestling with this, since I have published a lot of non-fiction and am just starting to publish fiction. I think I’ll keep my own name, but perhaps get a different Website for fiction.

  28. Landra Graf on September 5, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    Okay… My name is a pseudonym. For multiple reasons: I want to keep my presence online seperate from work. My real name is shared with dozens of people, not unique or anything. As far as being real I am my pseudonym, more so than I can be in everyday life. Let’s just say in the ‘real world’ I’m more subdued, in control, and less likely to speak my mind. My pseudonym free’s that inner me. I can be wacky, crazy, silly, or whatever I want to be that I can be in front of co-workers, friends, or family. I’m real and I balance the diffence between the real name and pseudonym. I also agree with another commenter that my author name is a lot more popular than the name on my birth certificate.

  29. Jerry Eckert on September 5, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    Cheap way to create a nom do plume: your middle name and your mother’s maiden name. I use one only for my poetry, an extensive series of verses about all the women in my life. They were important – I can not forget them – they made me who I am today. I am also married today – 34 years and counting. Need I say more about pseudonyms?

  30. Tricia Clasen on September 5, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    Such an interesting perspective. In the agent of the internet, I would imagine it’s infinitely more difficult to keep any alter ego separate.

    Thanks for sharing perspective on this one.

  31. Heather Hawke on September 5, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    I recently adopted a pseudonym because a very fine author with my name writes in the same genre as I do. Then I thought I’d use my middle name – no dice – a famous actress has dibs. I don’t intend to make any secret that I use a pen name. I think authenticity is not an issue as long as you are not trying to hide anything.

  32. Nicole Rushin on September 5, 2011 at 9:44 PM

    Just food for fact – the new social media site Google+ does not allow pseudonyms. They are shutting accounts down for this. I am all for being authentic.

  33. Diana Harkness on September 5, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    I’ve never tried to hide anything that should not be hidden. Likewise with my name. No reason to hide it. I have already had multiple careers and two different names (maiden and married). Writing is my fourth career, after media production, law, and computer consulting. Although my name is sometimes confused, it still functions well in all circumstances.

  34. Kel on September 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    I have a question. I’m writing a book that, for legal reasons, absolutely cannot be published under my real name. I’ve had two essays published in literary journals and have an essay forthcoming, all under my real name, Kel Marthe. I also have a blog and twitter with my real name. Because I’ll soon be trying to publish a book under a pseudonym, should I be submitting my work under my alias and creating social media pages under it, too? I’m not sure how to handle this, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  35. Danica Page on September 5, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    I have a pseudonym and have adopted it. I feel that I’m very authentic while using my penname (well as authentic as you care to be on the internet).

    My writing is personal and authentic to me and that doesn’t change because I’ve adopted a pen name. I haven’t suddenly lost my personality.

    My pen name uses my real first name and my real middle name, just not my last name. I’m using my name and I don’t feel like I’m trying to put up different fronts.

    For me a pseudonym works; however, this was a great article. Thanks!

  36. John Barnes on September 5, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Little bitty commercial correction: changing your name after sales disasters has nothing, nada, zip to do with fooling the reader. It has to do with the bookstore ordering system, particularly the big chains (now, I guess, the big chain) and Amazon. They base their order on how your last book sold, with minor tweakage for genre and sales copy. Books tend to sell through at the same percentage of whatever number of books are ordered; if they order 100 books and your sellthrough is 65%, you’ll sell 65, and if they order 10,000, your sell through will tend to be about 65%, and you’ll sell 6500. So the purpose of changing your name is to avoid having books in a genre that sells much worse (say sci fi) clobber your titles in a genre that sells well (say historical romance), or if your last book sold below standard newbie numbers. Nothing to do with the readers; everything to do with the buyers.

  37. Anne Martin Fletcher on September 5, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Rick Riordan comes to mind as a wildly successful author writing in multiple genres using the same name. His website is professionally managed by a high-end web design firm, so they deal with the multi-tab issues.

    I chose three names because, while I don’t mind people reading my queries because they think that I am THAT Anne Fletcher (27 dresses) or THAT Anne M. Fletcher (non-fiction nutrition and addiction specialist), or even Martin Fletcher, I do need to be myself. And it just so happens that I used all three names during my Air Force career, which is what I am writing about, anyway. There. Authentic and unique.

  38. Jeanne on September 5, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    Very interesting post, and I loved reading the comments. I’ve considered using a pseudonym because of family members’ line of work–security issues. I’m undecided as of yet on whether I’ll use my real name or a pen name when that time comes, but I’m thankful to be more aware of the issues I’ll need to consider when the time comes. Thanks, Rachelle, for addressing this issue.

  39. Katie Ganshert on September 5, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Super interesting thoughts today Rachelle, especially since I have an idea for a paranormal romance, which is not the brand I’m creating for myself as a Christian romance author with my debut novel.

  40. Teresa Robeson on September 5, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    I hold Isaac Asimov as my model: if he could be successfully published in many genres (most notably adult SF and non-fic) using his one and only name, then that is what I want to aim for. 🙂

  41. Beth MacKinney on September 5, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    I say go with your own name. A pseudonym can backfire if you use it in a way which indicates that you are hiding your true identity. The case I’m thinking of is the high school English teacher who was publishing racy erotica novels successfully. Parents were very upset when they found out what her sideline was, probably because they were feeling that a teacher should have a higher level of moral conduct as a leader.

    If you’re writing in a genre that you don’t want other people to associate you with, a pseudonym will probably not protect you in this day of internet access to info.

  42. RamseyH on September 5, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    I don’t know if this counts as a pseudonym, but I use my middle and last name for my fiction. My first-plus-last name is quite heavily associated with my day job online. I’m not hiding my other persona at all – with the same last name, it’s pretty easy to dig me up. I also use the same photo of myself in both contexts. But I felt that it might be confusing for potential readers doing a search on my name! I think most people who use the internet are familiar with using “handles” and online nicknames, so it doesn’t feel so much deceptive as considerate and helpful, from my perspective.

  43. Serena Chase on September 5, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    I had a great author name — my real name, actually! — and was starting to build my platform. But… 2 yrs ago my FB acct was hacked into, my profile changed to include vile, Satanic stuff, drugs, threats, etc., and the whole thing went viral within hours. Pubbing insiders told me I’d be wise to pick an entirely different name and start over. I did.

    Using a pen name was something of a necessity for me, but even though I was a victim of a crime, I do sometimes still feel like a big fat liar. I am clear on my website and blogging profiles that “Serena Chase” is my pseudonym and that eases my conscience a bit. It’s been a hard road coming to terms with the “loss” of my name, but I finally feel like I’m getting used to “being” Serena and not “chasing serenity” quite so much.

  44. Lisa Hall-Wilson on September 5, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    I have a pseudonym – sort of. I combined my maiden and married names because either one on it’s own was super common. So it is a pseudonym, and it’s not. But I’ve only used this one name everywhere – trying to use two would be chaotic I would think.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson on September 5, 2011 at 5:52 PM

      And by super common – I mean I couldn’t get urls in either name, linkedIn account, etc. Everywhere, both names on their own were taken.

  45. SingleMamma4God on September 5, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    I have a very unique first name. That is the only reason I chose to create an identity to step out with. For now I am comfortable to build a following and find my legs as a writer or public figure under this moniker.

    I am learning a lot on this trial run. I do not want to hide from anyone but not everyone who I get connected to via social media is my friend. I am happy to have that distinctive space between us.

  46. Rebecca Boschee on September 5, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    Definitely something to think about before putting too much effort in one or the other. For those with pen names, I do like the idea of transparency, and separate tabs or sections of the same website intuitively makes sense to me.

  47. Tammy Kirkland on September 5, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    I choose to use my initials, TC which is the legit name that I was called in school. I like it because I do plan to write different genres and I feel it is more “gender” friendly.

    However, I’m about to publish my first book via Kindle. I live in a small southern town. I am really starting to get butterflies. On one hand, I plan on writing the rest of my life, and at some point people need to know that’s what I do. On another, again…small southern town…lots, and lots, and lots of talk, and I am a very private person. Right now, I’m torn on the issue myself.

  48. Fiona on September 5, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Someone I know who wrote a best-selling YA novel said she loves having a pen name because she has people trying to find her all the time, and she wants to have her author persona and her “real her” persona who can write on Facebook to her actual real-life friends. Makes sense to me. It seems too complicated to have ONE identity to me.

  49. Kristi Ann Hunt on September 5, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Ironically, if it weren’t for social media, I would probably be writing under my real name instead of a pen name. I do a lot of ministry work with teenagers so my personal social media accounts are very connected to a lot of kids. I am pretty protective about who I friend and such because of that. If I wanted to have an open, accessible online presence it was going to have to be under a different name. I took a variation/mix of my maiden name and my married name, so it still feels very comfortable and I have no problem responding to it.

    When I worked in the corporate world as a computer programmer, I went by my full name at work even though socially I use a nickname. I had separate accounts for work and personal use. I see this the same way.

  50. Katlen on September 5, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    As an aspiring author for young adult, I was advised to use a pen name. Right now I’m solely using my first name. I’m all for pen names.
    What if you pick a pen name and your agent doesn’t like it? Do you change your name again? Great post!

  51. TNeal on September 5, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Since I have yet to have a book published, I’m still working through what will appear on the cover when it happens. I do know that, for me, T. Neal Tarver represents a level of professionalism that Tom Tarver or Tom N. Tarver doesn’t. The few pieces I’ve had published have the byline T. Neal Tarver. I have an on-line presence as TNeal mostly by happenstance but I like the simplicity of that name–easy to write, easy to remember.

  52. Theresa Froehlich on September 5, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    God has created only one “me” and I am called to be the best “me” I can be. As readers read my writing, they’re not just buying a product, they are buying “me.” I think it’s important to be authentic about who I am.

    Coach Theresa

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  54. Karen Adair on September 5, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    I used a pen name for a while when I couldn’t secure a sight for my real name and thought it would work even better to protect my children anyway. It was a nice run for a while, but eventually became far too cumbersome to keep track of in social media and the like. Especially when I started getting mail for a real person who went by the same name. I figured that even if there are many Karen Adairs out there, at least I’m me and I’m real. Considering that’s what I tend to write about, it works much better of course. Doesn’t hurt that I secured a website under my real name. 🙂

    Karen (prev. Carrie Dair)

  55. Andrea Nell on September 5, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    My debate is to use my married name or my maiden name. I started writing before I was married and planned to use my full name Andrea Michelle Wood. When I got married, my last name changed to Nell which doesn’t sound good with my middle name. So do I drop my middle name and go with my married name? My blog is already established under my maiden name so I. Was going to just stick with that, but this post has me rethinking … Any imput?

  56. Kurt Corriher on September 5, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    As it happens, I’ve been thinking a lot about pseudonyms lately because my first novel, a commercial thriller (though with some obvious literary elements), seems to have stereotyped me in that genre. Literary writing, though, is and always has been my primary interest and passion. Yet something in me rebels against the use of a “nom de plume.” I keep thinking of the character in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” who explains his refusal to sign a false confession with (as Miller instructs in the stage directions) a cry of the whole soul: “Because that is MY NAME!” (my emphasis)

  57. Addison Moore on September 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    I write young adult, but I also have some contemporary romance that I’d love to put out there as well. I think my readers could handle it without it getting too confusing although in the back of my mind a part of me thinks I should put it out as pen name. Either way I’d like to add a tab to my blog to keep the two separate and yet under one roof. I think readers can accept the fact that writers have expanded horizons.
    Take James Patterson for example who dabbles in thrillers, young adult paranormal, and middle grades.

    I think if the genres are not too different it doesn’t dilute the ‘brand’ too much. Readers are savvy, they can handle it.

  58. Becky Jacoby on September 5, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    You’ve hit a hot topic for me. I’ve written and edited nonfiction and corporate communications for years–even published a book–under Rebecca. As I prepare for the ACFW, I’m wondering about using my nickname, which has been used for my Web site because others have my name and Web presences as well. Most of the traffic, referrals and social media sites know me by Rebecca. Ah, what a tangled web. I’ll soon be seeking to re-do my site and align all my “personalities.” What a time wormhole…

  59. Loree Huebner on September 5, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    I’m not sure how I feel about pen names. I tend to lean toward authenticity.

  60. James Scott Bell on September 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    Some great points, Rachelle. I have a somewhat different take, but we overlap on a few issues.

    While print books, on the ropes, still duke it out, pen names can provide a service. For me, writing as K. Bennett, it’s brand differentiation, which is essential for my readers, old and new, and the bookstores (remember those?) In a future world that is only digital, these considerations may not be as important. Still, a few points:

    1. Despite protestations to the contrary, writers are still going to have to think about brands. If I wrote in four different genres (and someday I might) I would still have to let readers know what those books are about (so they can “brand” them in their minds). For example, I know that some of my Christian readers are not into zombie lawyer thrillers. Imagine that. So whether I use a pen name or not, I have to “brand” those books.

    2. The “authenticity” thing is a tad overhyped. What people want most in their social media is content. We all ask the Gordon Gekko question subconsciously: “Why am I listening to you?”

    3. True, you can’t do all things social with different names. But you can do some things as an adjunct. For K. Bennett, I have a Twitter account and a Tumblr website. The website enables me to blog whenever I want to say something relating to those books. I was writing some ruminations on boxing the other day, and it was perfect for the K. Bennett site, so up it went.

    4. It’s fun to be two people, so long as this isn’t a Stephen King story I’m in.

  61. Flower Patch Farmgirl on September 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    I blog under “Flower Patch Farmgirl” and am “known” (to an extent) as such. When I began blogging, I had no idea that I would ever acquire a following and writing a book was not on my radar. Now that I am writing a book, I’m aware that my platform does not know me as Shannan Martin as much as they know me as FPFG. So, I wouldn’t say that I have a pseudonym, but it’s something that I think could present challenges down the road.

    Interesting post!

  62. Darlene Marshall on September 5, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    It’s an interesting question. I publish romance under a pseudonym because I’ve been an active science fiction fan for a long time, and I wanted to keep my own name in reserve in case I ever write a SF novel.

    This does create some problems. I now attend SF cons as Darlene, since I’m often on writing panels. First time I did, a friend came up to me and said, “There’s some short, red-haired writer at the con who looks just like you!”

    My attitude now is, as long as the bank cashes Darlene’s checks it’s all OK.[g]

  63. Keli Gwyn on September 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Rachelle, I appreciate you reconsidering of the use of pen names. The authenticity aspect resonates with me.

    When I began writing novels, my husband and I talked about what name I’d use. He’s a high school teacher, so I wanted to be sure he was OK with me using my real name, which was my preference. He is. He’s read what I write (inspirational historical romance) and has no problem with his students reading my books. In fact, he boasts about me so much at work that his school’s librarian invited me to hold a book signing on campus when I sold my first novel.

    One of the main reasons I debated whether or not to use my real name is the unusual spelling of my first and last names. My mom used a rare spelling of Keli since she didn’t want my name to look like a boy’s. (There were many more boys named Kelly when I was born “back in the day”.) My wonderfully supportive husband, who blessed me with the name Gwyn, has Welsh heritage, and the Welsh make liberal use of Y as a vowel. I have to spell Gwyn all the time on the phone, but my online friends have gotten used to seeing the name and rarely misspell it now. I do get called Gwyn on occasion, since people are used to Gwen being a first name, but I answer to it. =)

    What helped me make the decision to use my real name despite the special spelling is the fact that even the most common names have variant spellings. I’ve heard people with the name Jane have to spell it because it can also be Jayne. I realize people will spell Keli a variety of ways. A web designer friend suggested a solution: purchase the URL for my website using my real name as well as the URLs with the four primary alternate spellings of Keli, which redirect to the main URL. I did this, and people seem to find me without trouble. (They’re on their own with Gwyn, though. =)

    Carla, I like having a short name and think Carla Gade sounds great. I’d know to look for your books near mine on the shelves. =)

  64. Peter DeHaan on September 5, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    This is also an issue with radio DJs. Many of who use a different name on air.

    This post reminds me of the old TV show Magnum PI. As I recall, at the beginning of the series, we see Magnum’s benefactor as Robin Masters (a successful author of steamy romance novels) and Higgins (who is perpetually writing his memoirs) as the estate’s caretaker.

    Towards the end of the series it is reveled that Robin Masters is Higgins’s pen name, reserving his own name for serious writing. The ruse is so complete that Higgins has hired someone to play the role of Masters, being the playboy and jet-setting around the world.

  65. Bonnie Ferrante on September 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    When I remarried five years ago, my name went from five letters (Blake) to thirteen (Tittaferrante). At first,I tried hyphenating it (Blake-Tittaferrante) in order to keep brand recognition, but that made it eighteen letters. It didn’t even fit on numerous things. I knew it was time to let the Blake go when my new husband was addressed as Mr. Blake at the grocery store.

    Why didn’t I go back to my maiden name, you may be thinking. Fifteen letters, a hyphen, and even harder to say and spell!

    So, I use my full married name, Bonnie Tittaferrante, for adult writing, which is mostly for the Buddhist temple. I shorten it to Ferrante when I write for children and YA, where I have been having more publishing success. It is hard to fit on the cover of a book. It’s difficult for young people to read, spell, and remember. People are often hesitatnt to read it because of the first syllable. The full five syllables do not roll easily off many people’s tongue, but Ferrante does. I’ve only been doing this for a year, so we’ll see how it works.

    So, in my case, it isn’t really a pseudonym, more an abbreviation.

    Bonnie Ferrante

  66. Maurice F Overholt on September 5, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    I just started reading your blog as a result of your interview with Michael Hyatt. I am a Music Pastor at a very visitor focused church and I often find myself in discussions with staff or other church leaders about generational differences. One of the key things for the 2000+ generation is authenticity. They do not need polish and production; at times they even resent it and distrust it. As a result we as staff spend a lot of time analyzing the language we use to portray an idea to make certain it is straightforward.

    As pastors we talk about how to be vulnerable as speakers and leaders so that people understand we are human, flesh and blood just like them, and not some sort of “spiritually advanced” individual. People open up to what we have to say when we put ourselves on their level and they realize that we deal with the same struggles.

    Writing literature is different from speaking on many levels, but I would think a writer would be much more successful if everything about the writer rang completely true. I have no experience with pseudonyms, and I am the sort of person who cannot hide his feelings, so perhaps I have much to learn about what appears to be an art in the use of pseudonyms.

    I just know that transparency and vulnerability are the primary commodities of communication and builders of trust and community.

  67. Jillian Kent on September 5, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Hi again,
    I forgot to add my post from the new WordServe Water Cooler. You can find it here:

    if you’re thinking about using a pen name.

    Thanks again Rachelle for posting this topic for discussion.


  68. Jillian Kent on September 5, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Hi Rachelle and All,
    Great post. And you are so right, it’s not easy with social media to manage the on-line presence. That’s why I don’t even think of using twitter at Jill Nutter. It’s too much. I still can’t figure out how to get around Facebook as Jillian Kent and posting on both Facebook accounts is hard. I purposely put forth an effort not to lie to my readers. I think they can handle it. I tell the truth on my website and I’ve posted about my pen name on my blog and my first post from me on the WordServe Water Cooler blog was intentional so readers of the blog really know who I am. I don’t think most of us want to pull something over on our readers, we just want to make the best of a difficult situation in today’s complicated world. I don’t think there is a one size fits all when it comes to pseudonyms. So my recommendation is that we each approach this issue individually. I love my pen name and I’m glad you suggested that I invent one. Really! I like having an easy to spell and pronounce name. 🙂 However, I still think some folks are at risk regarding their day jobs IF they reveal all, so they have to be cautious.

    I know that James Scott Bell ( felt he had to use another name for branding purposes, but for some reason I wish he’d just remained himself because he has such a following and K. Bennett is not as well known as JSB, but it makes perfect sense, (think Nora Roberts and J,D. Robb.) AND, I can see where some reader thinking they were picking up the usual JSB book would have a hissy fit finding out they were reading a zombie book! I think he did the right thing. ( don’t think it’s a good idea to use a pen name just for the fun of it. It should be well thought out.

    And then what about situations that are extremely sensitive that an author may want to write about but the truth is so raw that it would hurt their family even though it may help others? It’s very difficult. I don’t think I’d even recommend a pen name for that because I don’t think there is a way to protect anyone in this day of social media, etc. How secure would that be?

    Nathan Bransford said: “For me personally, this blog reflects my real life. The personality I express here is me, the opinions are my own, and the topics I post about are the things I’m thinking about. Sure, I maintain a certain professional decorum (usually) and I don’t divulge my deepest darkest thoughts (usually) but this isn’t a false front. This is me.”

    I believe in some instances that it’s not always safe “to be you,” but I think with the use of pen names that many of us who use them don’t keep it a secret and that in itself is being transparent. Speaking only for myself, I’m honest about what I post whether it’s as Jill Nutter or Jillian Kent and we both share the same brain.

    Have a great Labor Day!

    • claudia on September 9, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      Jillian, things being too ‘raw’ was exactly why I started blogging under a different name a few years ago (while my husband and I were adopting). I needed to write about it, and I wanted to be able to do it honestly, without having to censor my own feelings to make the whole thing more palatable to family and friends. Without that outlet, I think I would have gone crazy, and I’ve never regretted using a pseudonym. Having a pseudonym gave me the space to be a lot MORE authentic in my writing than I could have been if I thought my mother-in-law could find me via google.

      My ‘platform’, such as it is, is now very linked to my blog. This means that I really have to stay as Claudia, rather than use my real name.

      Social media is, indeed, a total pain.

      Lots of food for thought here, thanks Rachelle!

  69. Louise Curtis on September 5, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    I originally used a pen-name because I was underage and my writing mentor advised me to protect myself online with that method.

    The name I use is a family name, so it still feels like mine. I had a reasonable online presence before I married, so the pen name was handy when I changed my name.

    Since some of my books are written for children, I like having a slight gap between my writing self and any future crimes I may commit. Because it’s good to have options 🙂

    Louise Curtis

  70. Joanna Aislinn on September 5, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    As always, Rachelle, great food for thought. Thanks for sharing this.

  71. Michael Seese on September 5, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I recall reading a post (probably here) a few weeks back which offered the idea that one reason to write under another name is that if “that author” sells poorly, it won’t negatively influence publishers when you try to sell a book under your real name.

    Admittedly, I’m somewhat naive to the process, since I don’t work in the publishing biz. But in this day and age, I can think of a lot of reasons that my current books are not best sellers. Quality of the material may or may not be a factor.

    My first was published by my local bookstore. It’s available on Amazon as a Kindle, but if you want a hard copy you literally have to call or send an email to the bookshop. My second and third are non-fiction niche books: information security and BCP.

    When I (or an agent on my behalf) go to a publisher with my fiction work, I’d LIKE to think they won’t see that my BCP book isn’t a New York Times Top 10 and say, “Hmmm. No thanks.”

    I could be wrong, of course.

  72. Kathrine Roid on September 5, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    I chose a pen name because, well, my last name is notably Amish. And I’m writing science fiction. Just seemed odd. Don’t ask about my family’s spiritual history – it’s a doozy.

    “Kathrine Roid” was actually the kiddie alter-ego I’d chosen for myself as a child on the internet when my parents didn’t want me revealing my real name, so I’d already walked around under that face. The name itself came from a character in a “novel” *cough* I’d written when I was 10.

    I have a dislike of social media in general, so I don’t have half a dozen accounts under two names. I have half a dozen accounts under one name, Kathrine Roid, and my real name is being forced onto FB against its will.

    So much of the writer in me is done under the guise of “Kathrine,” that one time when I was emailing a IRL friend about writing, I signed my name “Kathrine.” At least I caught myself before I hit “send.”

  73. carol brill on September 5, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    Carla I ponder the triple name thing too. do I use my maiden name and publish as Carol Fragale Brill or just Carol Brill. If you divide my age in half the number of years I was Carol Fragale and the number as Carol Brill are almost equal…seems like Fragale should get equal billing.
    Also, and this may sound sentimental, none of my brothers or male cousins have children so our branch of Fragale stops with this generation. Since writing has a lot in common with giving birth, my novels can carry the name forward.

  74. Lynne Connolly on September 5, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Oh yes, forgot to add. Nothing compares to the kick you get when you see your name, your real name, on the cover of a book.

  75. Lynne Connolly on September 5, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    I use my real name, my married name because my maiden name doesn’t sound so good for an author.

    i write several genres, erotic romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, but they are all romance. If I wrote in a different genre, say, SF, I’d use a variation of my real name, LM Connolly, say.
    And I write for adults. If I wrote children’s books, for marketing and even moral reasons.

    Although my husband is a teacher, his bosses are okay with what I do. That isn’t always the case. That can be an important consideration for some authors, where their private life clashes with what they write. But that doesn’t always protect you. Earlier this year interfering parents discovered that their children were being taught by (gas) an author of erotic romance. Despite the fact that her employers knew, that she wrote under a pseudonym and that she never, ever brought her books into the classroom, she had to face an unpleasant couple of weeks while the muck-rakers had their day.

    I used a pseudonym for a brief period for my historical romances when I started writing paranormal romance, but I found the splitting of the names meant twice the work, even though I didn’t make any secret of the fact that it was me behind both names. But that’s two “brands,” and two marketing campaigns. Time you could be spending writing.

  76. Wendy on September 5, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    I wondered where you stood on this. I can see how complicated things could become. Adopting a pen name and taking on that persona might make me feel a little like Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

    Knowing me, I’d intermingle the two and get all confused.

    Enjoyed reading Nathan’s thoughts. And I’m glad you addressed the potential for real complexity with this.

    Happy Labor Day!
    ~ Wendy

  77. girlgeum on September 5, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Some use pen names, and who they are as a person does not change. What is on their blogs are not alter egos dying to get out. I’m one of them.

  78. Sherri on September 5, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    I googled myself recently just to see what would happen. The first link that popped up was the cyber equivalent of a wanted poster! Nice!

    There are also several other women in this area that have the same name. Even so, I think I will use my real name – maybe add the middle name for clarification.

    Marketing is hard enough without having to start over again for another name.

    I’ve changed my mind about this a couple of times, though. This helps. I’ll add this post to my collection and continue to consider it. Thanks.

  79. LJ Maggie on September 5, 2011 at 5:45 AM

    I write under a pen name. I have built an audience under that name. My authentic self does come out even though sometimes I refer to my pen name as my alter ego.
    I am a dating and relationship blogger and am working on a fiction novel based on my dating experiences in LA. I don’t let anyone I am dating know my pen name nor what I am working on.

  80. DiscoveredJoys on September 5, 2011 at 5:14 AM

    I can see the value of pen names in the ‘industry’ and the equal value in being consistent.

    My question is: why do some people become so attached to the name they were given at birth, and other people cheerfully flit from one arbitrary label to another?

  81. Rosemary Gemmell on September 5, 2011 at 4:52 AM

    The way I’ve been getting around the name question so far is by changing my first name slightly for different genres. I’ve always used my full name (Rosemary) for freelance short stories and articles.

    My first historical romance is under the name Romy and my first tween/children’s book will be under Ros. But they are all linked by my real surname. I don’t hide who I am, it just allows readers to know what kind of writing they’re getting. I do have separate blogs, all linked together.

  82. T Denise Clary on September 5, 2011 at 4:44 AM

    I know that everyone has their reasons for using pen names.

    Well here is my reason…I blogged about it on 8/2/11:

  83. Dee Krull on September 5, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    I agree with you completely. I think we should all be real about who we are. When I see a Twitter name that is just a number or a jumble of letters, I wonder why this person doesn’t want to tell me who they are. The same goes for no picture.

    I do agree that sometimes it is necessary when you are writing different genres.

    I am a Dr. of clinical hypnotherapy, so when I wrote my teaching books I used my legal name with the Ph.D. after it.

    Dee is actually a nick name but everyone knows me as Dee, so when I decided to write fiction I wanted my friends and family to recognize me as they know me.

  84. Sharon Wachsler on September 5, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    I have always written under my own name. I write in a lot of forms and genres, but what I publish the most these days is erotica.
    I’m not ashamed of it, and I don’t mind that my feminist essays or humor columns or disability culture poetry all appear under the same name as my erotica. I think it’s good, actually.

    However, I’ve written a collection of poetry for children. A friend of mine who writes children’s books has told me that absolutely no publisher would allow me to publish children’s books under my own name. What about that? Do you think times have changed *that much*?

  85. Ruth Taylor on September 5, 2011 at 3:40 AM

    I’ve thought about using a pseudonym due to the fact that a small part of my novel addresses Palestinian terrorists. I have a family and do not want to take any risks, but I’ve already established my name with my novel.

    What comes to mind, though, are a few of the difficulties you addressed. The photo on the book. Book signings. People who know me, etc.

    Where I stand now is that once I get closer to publication, experts in the field will guide me on how to proceed.

  86. Mercey V on September 5, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    This is a cool post and fairly valid, and I have to say I’m finding the comments most interesting. Would you use a pen name if your “next of kin” is a cheese? Around where I live you can buy Mersey Valley (and they do a great vintage cheddar). I think my name would look great on a book and feel no need to change at all. Just pray I never write anything cheesy (ok, bad joke, but I’m allowed to make it, right?). Often when I’m at the bookstore I feel sceptical enough already when perusing the author names. I find myself deciding which is real and which is so fake they should really try again, and for all I know they’re the real ones. To me it seems people will use whatever name they want and should not feel duplicitous if they choose a pen name as an extension of their creative self. I buy a book for the story regardless of genre, and if the story was good enough I’d hope I’d buy it from the same author even if I didn’t know they were using another name.

    Perhaps before worrying about a new name, a good story ought to come first?

  87. Julie Particka-Klumb on September 5, 2011 at 3:09 AM

    I publish under two names. I use my maiden name, Julie Particka, for my young adult work. (I hate my husband’s last name, and really my maiden name is more *me*.) But I also publish adult romance and speculative fiction (some of which is erotic), so I use a different name for that. I don’t keep my identities secret (I tried, but within a week I knew I could never do it long term), but I wanted there to be a clear division so my YA readers wouldn’t accidentally pick up my other work.

    It’s a pain, but it’s much easier than dealing with irate parents.

  88. BK Jackson on September 5, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    Carla, my first thought was, why is your name being short a problem? Carla Gade seems perfectly fine to me. I would have thought a shorter name is better than a “that’s a mouthful” name???

    I can see some reasons for pen names (ie. sensitive material where you’re better off with a different name), but when it comes to using a pen-name for multiple genres, I don’t get it. Oh sure, I’ve had people explain their rationale (which invariably includes the fact that their agent told them to) but as a reader, if someone I read writes multiple genres, I want to know about it and be given credit to decide for myself whether I will read all their works. I’m not going to freak out if the wrote women’s fiction one minute and decided to try horror the next.

  89. Nancy Kimball on September 5, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    I’m one of those writers whose “real” name is impossible to pronounce, spell, and quite honestly, I can’t stand it, LOL.
    I own my pseudonym and joke with my friends and family it’s my Hanna Montana.
    Something flipped out with google yesterday when I commented and my ‘real’ name showed up and I couldn’t fix it.
    Very frustrating, since I agree if you do that, it needs to be consistent.

  90. Lesli Lytle on September 5, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    I have heard publishers are insisting on social media rights, which would cause conflicts if an author had two books coming out close to the same time from two different houses and genres. Wouldn’t this require a pen name? Or is the social media rights a flash in the pan?


  91. karen wester newton on September 5, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    In the Google age, a writer needs a reasonably distinctive name but not one that’s impossible to spell. Agents will Google potential clients, and it’s not good if hordes of people with the same name show up. Some writers don’t have to worry; others add a middle name to make it more distinctive (like me!). Of course, if there were a Karen Wester Newton who was a porn star, I would have had to use another name.

  92. karen on September 5, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    Carla I like “Carla Olson Gade” I think it has a nice ring to it and is memorable. It has more of a flow then just “Carla Gade”

  93. Taz on September 5, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    I’m all for NDPs (nom de plumes) for the genre reason, and also for privacy and marketability. I’ve got one I keep in my pocket and the irony is that online my NDP is way more popular than my ‘real’ self.

    My real name is cool. I love it but always toyed with an NDP for the ‘romantic side’ and because there’s a part of me that likes being disconnected from written works. People are inclined to be way more honest when they don’t know it’s you and I find this a big benefit and not offensive in the least.

    When the day comes and I am published, I’ll let the agent or the author decide on which name is best. If they choose my real name, I’ll just have to walk around blushing 🙂 God help me! Ha ha 🙂

    In terms of genre, when I consider my favourite authors’ works, if I love them that much I’d love to know what else they’ve written so I’m not missing out. But can you imagine a writer of historical romance writing the sci-fi she’s always wanted to? The marketing would HAVE to be very clever. Because I love her, I’d still buy it.

  94. Aurora on September 5, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    Agree 100% that if you use one name, stick to it. Lots of people have blogs with no real name at all, just a title for the blog. It still seems to work for them once their audience finds them. It’s like choosing a baby’s name. Everyone has reasons why and why not. I believe we should do what we feel is best for us, whatever our personal level of comfort is, period, or whatever will work best marketing wise. Sometimes there is no way of knowing any of this in advance, like writing it can be a learn as you go situation. The romantic explanation for my choice is in a piece on my page (Pseudonyms and Homonyms) but I use my “real” name if it involves something legal or being paid, of course, LOL It’s as individual as we all are. Don’t know a thing about the Harlequin issues. Anyone???
    I like the way Carla Olsen Gade sounds when I say it out loud. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. I think LOL

  95. Mindy Dyksterhouse on September 5, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    This post hits a home run with me. A writer friend and I both use pen-names. I have one name, she has several. It boggles my mind at how she juggles everything with them.

    And our reasons are as different as we are to parallel worlds. I use one simply because I do not believe that my given name is marketable. My friend opted to use hers because of the stigma against her preferred genres in her church.

    In looking at both our choices, with considering this post, I think Rachelle is right- if you’re going to use a pen-name own it. Actors do it.

  96. Carla Olson Gade on September 5, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    I agree that reader’s want authenticity. And when an author is using another name and says so on their website, to me I wonder what was the point? That’s my only gripe about that. But I must confess that as a soon to be published author with 3 books under contract I’m still wrestling over my name. I thought to go with Carla Olson Gade, because Carla Gade is rather short. But then is my triple name too complicated. Still thinking ’bout it…. Any insights on that?

    • Giora on September 5, 2011 at 1:13 AM

      Your best choice is Carla Olson. It’s short and Olson is a better last name to remember than Gade. Congrats with the three books to be published.

    • Sherri on September 5, 2011 at 7:50 AM

      I like Carla Gade. It’s simple and quick to say. Sounds good, too. Carla Olson Gade sounds very professorial to me. 🙂 That’s not a bad thing. Just don’t know what you’re writing.

      Another thought…using the shorter name is a little less intimidating – that’s probably not the right word – it’s sounds more accessible. Just my two cents worth.

    • RS Bohn on September 5, 2011 at 8:41 AM

      Perhaps it depends on the genre you’re writing. For instance, if it were steampunk, C.O. Gade would sound delightful.

    • Bonnie Ferrante on September 5, 2011 at 11:14 AM

      Carla Gade. Easy to remember. Sounds good. My uncle always says K.I.S.S.

    • Kurt Corriher on September 5, 2011 at 1:37 PM

      I’ll buck the trend a bit and go for all three names too. It has a rhythm that makes your name, to me, more memorable. And there are certainly authors who have used that to great advantage. Orson Scott Card (science fiction) comes to mind. Norman Vincent Peale, from an earlier era, is another.

    • Julie Nilson on September 5, 2011 at 8:41 PM

      Carla, I think it depends on your genre. If you’re writing mysteries/thrillers/sci-fi, something in that vein, Carla Gade has a great sound to it. Short and succinct.

      But if you’re writing romance, literary fiction, or fantasy, I like Carla Olson or Carla Olson Gade.

    • Valerie Comer on September 7, 2011 at 10:50 PM

      Carla, one problem with a triple name is potential readers may not know which name is the true surname. Do I look for you under Olson or under Gade?

  97. Sylvia Smith on September 5, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    Although I’m unpublished and really not known in any fashion, I am currently out there to whatever degree possible under my own name. My name also happens to be the same as a well known Washington DC journalist and past president of the National Press Club. When you Google me, you do get me, but mostly you get her, and all mixed in together with me. I’m wondering what others think about that? I LIKE my name – it’s mine. Further, if one uses a pseudonym, how does one do that – just jump in and do it? And are there legal issues? My Harlequin friends say there can be. Any thoughts welcome . . .

    • Sylvia Smith on September 5, 2011 at 12:26 AM

      Forgot to mention the published UK author, even more well known than the both of us, who has the same name, too.

    • Bonnie Ferrante on September 5, 2011 at 11:12 AM

      I don’t think you can ever completely protect yourself from having the same name as someone else. Even if you find the perfect unique name, a year later someone new might become known with the same name.

      When I remarried and became Bonnie Tittaferrante, I thought I was pretty unique. Then I found out that in our city of only 110,000 there was another Bonnie Tittaferrante. She had just graduated and had become a teacher for the same school board for which I was teaching at the time! (I use Ferrante for most of my writing.)

      The funniest thing is that I have a medical condition which severely limits the distance I can walk. She is a runner whose name often appears in the local newspaper. I am constantly congratulated for my competition running time by people who don’t know me well.

      It is an extremely small world. I suspect even if you made up a name, there would be someone else out there with it.