Monthly Archives: March 2011
They may be well known in another industry and want to keep their professional or business identity separate, they may want to protect their personal name (in case of their fiction career not working out, or the opposite: achieving worldwide success and having no privacy, or… just because!). An author might also prefer a pen name because it ‘sounds better’ than their real name or helps to ‘brand’ their book by creating a more appropriate and memorable name to represent the genre or topic of the book.
Some authors also have multiple pen names for different books, if they write under two or more different genres.
Whatever your reason, choose wisely. Here are some things I’ve learned about the process of choosing your own pen name, and some ideas to help you come up with a name you love:
1. A variation on your real name:
- You could keep your first name and just change the surname.
- Use your first two initials with a surname.
- You could keep your surname and change your first name.
- Consider a name that has the same initials as your real name.
2. A completely different name:
- Make a list of all the first names you really like (A baby name book or website can be useful).
- Make a list of all the surnames you really like (If you get stuck, look in the phone directory).
- Try combining a couple of different first names or surnames together to come up with something new.
- Make sure the name is easy to spell, so people can find you on the internet.
- If your name is Lily Sparkle and you’re writing a book for teenage boys about undercover agents, you might want to choose a ‘less feminine’ sounding name, or even switch to initials.
- You can use a random name generator website, such as: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/ . These are also useful for coming up with character names for your story.
- Make sure the name you choose is one you’re happy to be known by. Okay, so you might not become a household name like J.K Rowling or Stephanie Meyer, but… you might be!
- Practise signing the name and see how it feels. Does it flow well off the pen?, would you be happy to sign hundreds of books with this name?
- Before deciding on your name, come up with a shortlist of about five or so, and research them on the internet. Check first if the dot com domain name is available, that is; www.(insertpenname).com, because if you’re serious about being an author you need a website, and dot com’s are the most popular and easy to remember. Then search the web in both text and images (with filters turned off) to make sure; a) there are no other popular authors with the name, b) there are no other well known people from other professions with the name, and c) that your chosen name doesn’t also belong to an unfavourable person, or a ‘playboy’ centrefold model of the year, or something similar!
- You can also search Amazon.com to see if other authors have the same name.
- Ask on forums or writing groups for feedback about your name.
- Once you’ve come up with a winner, register the dot com web domain (even if you don’t plan on having a website just yet), and set up a Facebook and Twitter account with the name.
- You don’t have to register it as a business name, but when you get published, your publisher or a solicitor may be able to advise you of any legal concerns.
Writers – Do you have a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?
Readers – how do you feel about authors using a different name, does it change the way you feel about the author if you know they’re not using their real name?
Juliet (or am I?)
When I was going through some pretty big changes in my life in 2009, I said to myself “It’s as though I’m having some sort of life makeover.”
Then, Ta Da! Light bulb moment.
What if I could write a story about a group of women going through their own life makeover, following their ups and downs as they participate in an exclusive club, in a humourous yet heartfelt way? And what if I could impart some snippets of wisdom along the way? Yes! I thought. What a great idea!
And then was born my novel, or my, er… snovel: A Self Improvement Novel.
Now don’t get me wrong, The Life Makeover Club is first and foremost, a novel; a fictional story about women’s lives. But, through the club meetings these characters attend, they learn some important lessons, and tips on creating their ideal life. It is my hope that when (yes, when, not if!) this book gets published, readers will not only find it an enjoyable read, but will also be inspired to make some positive changes in their own lives, and have their own life makeover just like I did.
So what do you think of the idea of a ‘snovel’?
Do you know any other books out there that could be called snovels?
And if you could makeover something about your life, what would it be?
Yes, you can still get swept away with the story and enjoy turning the pages, but there will always be that part of you that silently (or, not so silently) critiques the book as you read it.
Since committing to becoming a writer, the way I read a book has changed dramatically.
First, here is how I used to read a book, when I was a ‘reader’ only:
Oooh, I like the sound of him…
Geez this is getting good…
Bugger off, I’m trying to read…
Reading, reading… (at 1am if it’s a page-turner)
Good book, can’t wait for the next one!
Okay, here is how I read now, as a ‘writer’:
I can really picture these characters
That’s a great way to show the conflict
Wait, do I detect some head-hopping going on here?
This protagonist sure has a strong motivation to reach her goal
Damn! Why couldn’t I have written that?
*Jots down new idea for a novel*
Concupiscent? *Googles concupiscent*
*Adds concupiscent to list of ‘words I must use sometime so people think I’m intelligent’.
I better get that; it might be a publisher offering me a contract.
Oh, It wasn’t by the way.
Aha! I have a great idea *jots down notes frantically until 2am*
*falls asleep and loses place in book*
Reading, reading… (two weeks later)
I can’t remember what’s been happening, better go back to the start…
Reading, reading… (repeat above process)
(eventually) The End.
Good book, can’t wait till someone reads mine!
Now that I’m a writer, one thing’s for sure; no matter whether the book I’m reading is fantastic or just ‘okay’, I always appreciate the effort the author has put into it.
So how about you? If you’re a writer, do you find this affects your reading? If you’re a reader, do you find it easy to get totally absorbed by a book, or do you also stop here and there and notice the craft that’s gone into the book?
P.S – I bet some of you are now googling ‘concupiscent’!