Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Using A Pen Name

There are a few reasons why a writer may choose to use a pen name. One is to remain anonymous. If a writer wishes to keep their true identity a secret, they can create a pen name. That is one of the reasons why I have a pen name. The second reason why I use my pen name is because I want my name to be memorable, to stand out. To me, Chrys Fey is mysterious and magical. After all, the meaning of "fey" is magic.

To read more about my pen name go to my facebook page: www.facebook.com/chrysfey


Another use for a pen name is to distinguish between an author’s writing styles. For instance, say you have published a sci-fi series under one name. But you are working on another series that happens to be as far from sci-fi as you can possibly get. Perhaps you don’t want to confuse your readers with the clashing styles so you decide to publish this other series under a different name to warn your readers that this series is not like the other one. 

The only thing you have to remember when using a pen name is to mention you use one in your query letter, and that your pen name will be on your byline for your all of your manuscripts while your real last name will go at the top of each page for the header.


So if you want a pen name, go for it! But take your time thinking of one. I spent a couple of years thinking I wanted to get published under another name until "Chrys Fey" fluttered into my mind like a magical butterfly with flaming wings. When it did, I knew instantly that "Chrys Fey" was the pen name I was waiting for.


QUESTIONS: Do you use a pen name or your real name when you publish? How did you decide? 


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33 comments:

  1. Well, I won't be using a pen name, per se, but I'll be writing humorous novels as "Quanie Miller" and paranormal novels under "Shaquana M. Miller." Both are my names, one is just a nick name. I always wondered how it feels for authors who use a pen name, when they're at book signings, etc; does it feel weird to be called (and to answer to) a name that's not your own? I wonder about that.

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    1. "Chrys" is one of my nick names too, but I changed the "i" to a "y" to make it more enticing. "Fey", on the other hand, is totally made up. So half of my pen name is real and the other half isn't. lol I've had this pen name long enough to get used to it. Now when people call me "Chrys Fey" it feels the same as when people call me by my real name. I imagine it's the same for other authors.

      I really like "Quanie Miller" for humor and "Shaquana M. Miller" for paranormal. Both those names seem to fit the genres perfectly! :D

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  2. My real name is Calliope, and she was one of the muses in Greek mythology. When I decided to start my blog www.ny-muse.com, my goal was to start a blog where I'd provide inspirational quotes. Hence, I thought of the 'muse' who inspires...and being that I'm from NY, I became the NY Muse! :)

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    1. I've always loved the names from Greek mythology. :) The story behind your blog's name is very interesting! And clever! Thank you so much for sharing, Calliope!

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  3. I had planned to write under my real name, but the full name could not fit on one line on conference badges. After several people commented on how original Ursula Renee was, I just dropped my last name. I eventually chose a second pen name to keep my spicier works separate from my milder stories.

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Ursula! At first, I also thought I would write under my real name too, but then I liked it better knowing I could be a little anonymous. And I agree with those people . . . "Ursula Renee" is a unique and very pretty name! If you don't mind me asking . . . what is your pen name for your spicier works?

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    2. Morning Lee. I came up with this by combining the names of two relatives.

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    3. Morning Lee is beautiful! What a great idea it is to use the names of loved ones for a pen name. I may have to try that for a character. ;)

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  4. I finally worked up the courage to start a blog under an online user name I used previously on a few different web platforms, which is a variation on my legal name. I decided to use a pen name to keep my professional writing life as Adrie Fleur and professional 'other' career life separate. Plus, using a pen name has been strangely freeing for me in terms of my writing productivity and professionalism.

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    1. It is very freeing to use a pen name! A pen name can be like a "pass" to write however and whatever you want to write about and not worry about what others think. Of course, I don't have that feeling anymore since I'm not totally anonymous while using my pen name.

      It is very interesting to see the names of the people who have commented so far because they are all unique names. Quanie . . . Calliope . . . Ursula . . . Adrie . . . :)

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  5. One tip I've heard when choosing a pen name, is to go with your current name, or nickname, or something close, for your first name.

    Because if your name is "Sally" and you choose "Jessica" you're never going to hear it for a very long time.

    I like Chrys Fey, but decided for better or worse, to stick with my own name. Unless and until I find something better.

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    1. I didn't know that tip when I created my pen name. But since the first name for my pen name is a variation of my nickname, I guess I can say I did it right! ;)

      Thank you, and I don't think you need a pen name because Beverly Diehl is a GREAT name for an author! :)

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  6. I use my real name but I know several authors who use pen names as they write in different genres.

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    1. The main reason why my pen name is "Chrys Fey" is because of the genre I mostly write in: supernatural-thrillers. But it's such a good name that I use it for everything! ;)

      Thank you for your comment, Alex!

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  7. I love the pen names people use--including yours--but I've never used one simply because I don't want to have to worry about it or forget it or order everything in two different names. If I wrote erotica, I probably would use one simply because I have schoolteacher children and high school grandkids I'd rather not force into defending my choices.

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    1. Pen names aren't for everyone, and I am having a great time finding out why some writers use one and why others don't. :) Using a pen name for erotica to disguise your identity as a a mother of schoolteachers and a grandmother would be a good idea! ;) And if you ever do, talk to your publishing about using a fake author picture. lol

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  8. Chrys,

    I found my way here finally. Thanks for following up. I decided to keep my first name, because I wasn't sure if I could adjust to being called by another name. I used the name of the street where I lived as a teen for my last name, because it held special memories for me and it sounded good. I added an extra "t" to the way the street was spelled because it looked better. When I just revisited my home town, I discovered that one of the older buildings along the downtown's main drag was originally called The Barret House Hotel. The street may have been named for Richard Barret, who built the hotel. I loved that bit of history and how it tied to my pen name.

    Barbara Barrett

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you were able to post your comment, Barbara! :)

      It is very interesting that you said that you used the name of the street where you lived as a teen for your last name because the street where I grew up had a great influence on my writing too. Isn't that odd? I still credit that street as the location of where I became a writer, but if I used it for my pen name I'd be Chrys Pluto! LOL That is a neat tid bit about the street possibly being named after Richard Barret. Thank you do much for sharing! :)

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  9. I was conflicted with myself when I first began my adult writing and whether or not I should use a pen name. I love my real name but because a lot of my writing is non-fiction and part of my past, I write under a pen name, although Gina is my real name. For my work with children, my pen name is completely different and that name was given to me simultaneously by two very important people in my life, years ago. I will eventually go by Gina Stone but for now, the Stoneheart suits me because my heart is sturdy and strong like a rock. Rockheart seemed corny, lol. I love your pen name, Chrys. After getting to know you just recently, I can already tell that it is a great match for its creator!

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    1. Now that I think about it, another reason why I didn't want to publish under my real name is because I have always felt disconnected with it. Everyone I know calls me by a nickname. And my maiden name . . . well, I don't even feel connected to that even though I share it with a famous comic strip writer. ;)

      "...the Stoneheart suits me because my heart is sturdy and strong like a rock." I LOVE that, Gina! You definitely are a rock! And that is one of the nicest things someone could say to me! Thank you! <3

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  10. I write under a pen name for a number of reasons, but in hindsight I might have chosen differently.
    I never thought of conferences where someone may yell out "Charlotte" and I don't turn around. Or god forbid, signing my real name when someone is looking for a Charlotte Copper autograph.
    I do like my pen name as it is a play on my grandmother's name Charlotte Cowper. I chose it because I wanted a colour in my name similar to the titles of the stories I wrote. Of course, I've just had critique partner suggest I title my latest WIP differently since "Black Secrets" doesn't help a reader figure out what the story is about. In which case, there goes my whole plan down the drain.

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    1. Eek! Signing the wrong name and not reacting when someone calls out your pen name are things that you definitely don't want to happen. I've found that over the last 2 years of blogging and using FB has helped me to get used to others calling me Chrys Fey. I guess that's the trick with a pen name; a writer has to get used to it well before it becomes a publishing reality.

      Copper as a last name is definitely different! But I don't think your plan will be ruined if you rename your WIP. One book without a color in the title could still work. Or could you use an alternative word to "Black" such as midnight, ebony, or pitch-black. All of those options still indicate the color.

      Good luck with your decision, and thank you for your comment! :)

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  11. Hey Chris! My pen name is sorta, kinda my real name. lol! My real first name is Lillian, which I have NEVER used. I always went by my middle name, Gayle. But when I was first contracted by an agent (who is no longer my agent-long story.) she represented my historical romances. She did not represent paranormal. So, she suggest I submit it elsewhere. I did. And before I knew it, The Wild Rose Press offered a contract. My agent suggested I use a pen name in case I sold my historical she'd sent out. So, I chose a "version" of my real name, Lilly Gayle, and TWRP published my first book, a paranormal entitled Out of the Darkness. Then when my agent didn't sell my historical, she suggested I rewrite it into an inspirational. Okay, let's just say I can't write inspirationals. lol! So, I tweaked the historicals and sent them to TWRP. And now I have 2 historicals and 2 paranormals published with them. So, I guess I'm "stuck" with Lilly Gayle. But since it is so close to Lillian Gayle W. Glass (my real name) I guess I don't mind. :) Fun post! Thanks!!

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    1. I'll let you in on a little secret, Lilly. My first real name is Christine, but I never use it either. ;) I think Gayle is such a pretty name!

      It sounds like you went through a bit of a roller coaster ride in publishing, but I'm happy it all worked out for you in the end!

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  12. Hi Chrys! This is a fascinating topic. There is a strong literary tradition of writers using pen names. 19th century authors were keen users; Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell (the Brontes), George Elliot, (Mary Anne Evans), George Sand, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain. There are many contemporary examples, too: Anne Perry, Anne Rice, Toni Morrison, among others. No doubt their reasons are/were varied.
    I started using a pen name because I wanted my 'writing persona' to be distinct to my 'ordinary persona'. I don't consider it a pseudonym because I don't keep it a secret. I consider it my 'artistic name'. I'm trying to keep them appart professionally, although they overlap.
    My pen name is part of me, so it's an anagram of my birth name: Lucy Garcia. I changed the letters around to produce Luccia Gray. I feel comfortable using it. I consider it a tribute to myself, because I'm finally accomplishing my life-long dream to publish my work and become an author.
    Lucy is very proud of Luccia, and Luccia is glad Lucy found the time and peace of mind to give birth to her. I know it sounds weird, but I feel very pleased with this arrangement!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Luccia! I enjoyed reading about your pen name and the story behind it. I think it's neat to use an anagram of your birth name. My birth name wouldn't have a pretty anagram like yours did. :)

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  13. Hi Chrys and All !

    I also decided to use a Pen Name, but my reason is somehow different from all what I read here.
    I am not an English native speaker, so my real name can't be read so easily in this language. This would not be a problem if I would choose to write in my native language. Being a native stubborn person and loving to always do what others are telling me not to do, especially when the reason is "an easier path" :) , I decided to write in English. So I had to choose a Pen Name; only that... I love my real name, so my Pen was formed only cutting the last 4 letters from the real one.
    Just for fun... try to spell in English my name: Mirela Carmen Simonescu :)
    believe me... no matter how you are saying it, you will be far away from the right pronunciation. :-))))))

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Mirela! And your reason for using a pen name is a good one. I like that you used your real name and just cut the last four letters to make your pen name.

      I'm not sure if I pronounced your first name correctly, but I know I butchered your last name. Your full name looks beautiful though! :)

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  14. I picked my pen name using part of my real name and parts of a family members name who I was close that passed away, played around with the letters for a little while and bam, Janessa Kendall.

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    1. That's a great way to honor your loved one, Janessa.

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  15. I have not published a book yet but have two open secret pen names along with my own. Both are one word like Madonna. Yes that was a big inspiration for my pen name choice. Like Madonna.

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    1. Two secret pen names like Madonna. Oh, I want to know what they are! :D

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    2. Two secret pen names like Madonna. Oh, I want to know what they are! :D

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