Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's in a name? part 1-choosing an author pen name

So, I have been thinking about this all day.  How do you decide what pen name to use for your writing?  I mean, an author's name is very important.  Do you use your own name, or do you come up with an alias?

Me, personally, I decided to use my name that was given to me at birth.  It was honestly a tough choice, but in the end, it just seemed right.  My last name is famous enough; I am a descendant of the first president of the Czech Republic, Tomas Masaryk (the last name was changed to an i when he came to America).  I have been doing a lot of research about him, and have found out that he has a lot of work published. Granted, it's mostly scholarly work and political type stuff, but still.  It obviously runs in the family, and if the first president of the Czech Republic (the man responsible for freeing the Jews during the Holocaust) isn't afraid to publish under his own name, then why should I be?  Heck, the man has a university named after him, and there are several statues of him; one in Chicago, Washington D.C., and one in Prague!

However, there are some instances where you just have to change your name.  For example, say if you write children's or YA books, and you decide you want to venture out into erotica or something.  Would you really want your young readers (who probably look up to you as a role model), to associate those two very different types of writing with you?  Some people might say that it's pointless to use a different name, but in some places, especially if you're active in your church or synagogue, you might want to consider publishing under a pen name.

So, how do you choose a pen name?  That's something that is up to you, the author.  I would go by something that has a special meaning to me/you.  But, no matter what, make sure that you like the name, because once you sign that contract and your book goes to print, that's how people will remember you!


  1. you raise an interesting point. i never understood why authors used pen names when i was younger. but as i got older, i did. personally, if i ever publish anything i'll be using my first and middle name. great post!

  2. It really is a matter of preference and what the author chooses. It was just something that my boyfriend and I were talking about earlier today, and I decided that it was a subject that wasn't always talked about, and was important enough to blog about :)

    Thanks for reading Jen!

  3. You did an excellent job of addressing a very good point. Thanks for blogging aboutit!

  4. How does one legally own their Pen name? Is it incorporated?

  5. That's a very good question Lune! I will post your answer in a blog later tonight :)

  6. I chose this pen name for two reasons: my real name sounds like a romance author, and I teach very small children, but I write for adults. I have students in music from the time they are in Kindergarten until they are 6th graders. They're very internet saavy, and I don't want them showing their parents what their teacher writes. The community in which I teach is very small and conservative, and I don't want repercussions for writing how I want to write.