Sunday, June 04, 2023

The Pros and Cons of A Pen Name

By Terry Whalin

With surprising frequency, as an editor, I get submissions where the author wants to use a pen name. One of my first questions to the author is why? Then I listen to the answer.

Often they dont have much of a reason for using a pen name. I find many of these authors wrongly believe it is easier to use a pen name. From my years in publishing, it is better to build your online presence using your own name rather than a pen name. The online world is full of false names and sometimes fake profiles. People have more confidence and trust if they can see from multiple sources the person is real and using a real name. 

There are pros and cons to this critical decision. In this article I want to lay out some of those issues.


If you use your actual name, you can use a real photo and other information which helps the reader know your expertise and background. 

Ive met some writers who have been through a protracted and horrible divorce. They used a pen name to hide their identity from this spouse.


If you use a pen name then you have to build everything online using that pen name. Your website, your blog, your various social media accounts and other places would be built with this pen name. 

You often have to use a fake photo since you don't want to use your actual photo. 

This entry is shorter than some of my articles because Ive been away from my computer at a conference with limited time to write. Hopefully I make up for this lack with the links below to some of my other recent articles published in other places (outside my blog).

Have you used a pen name? Let me know in the comments and add to my information about using a pen name.

My Articles in Other Places

In these entries, I encourage you to write articles for other places. Here's some of my recent articles:

Beginning Writers Do Get Published Some writers believe (wrongly) that only professional writers get published. In this article I debunk this myth.

Should I Self-Publish? I speak with many writers going in this direction and explain the reasons not to go in this direction from my years in this business. 

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4 Comment:

At 6:20 PM, Blogger K.M. Barrett Left a note...

I enjoyed your insight, Terry, about using a pen name. Obviously, a pen name would create unnecessary issues. But I have considered it myself previous to reading your article. Why? No particular reason. It seemed like something a writer should do. Silly me. After some thought, however, because I want to sound more professional going forward, I opted for using my first and middle initials, then my last name. Thank you for addressing an interesting detail of the writer's life.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

K.M. thank you for this comment. I hope my article has helped authors make sure they have a reason why they are using a pen name in their writing life. Some writers have done it because they want to write in a different genre of novels. It should be used thoughtfully and with intention.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Laura Solis Left a note...

Thank you for sharing such an insightful and thought-provoking article!Non Fiction Book Writing Services

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad it helped you.



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