How to Pick a Pen Name

How to Pick a Pen Name

A pen name, or pseudonym, is a fictitious name that an author uses instead of their real name when publishing their work. Writers use pen names for all sorts of reasons such as privacy, personal preference, or to cross into another genre. Here are some tips for creating yours. 


Check Google & Socials

First of all you don’t want to pick a pen name only to find out they’re a famous w@r criminal. 💀 Beyond the obvious though, you might have a smoother ride if your pen name isn’t taken on social media.

No big deal if it is, you can always modify the handle by adding “writer” or “writes” or “author” on the end, but if even THOSE are taken, consider going back to the drawing board.


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Consider Genre

You don’t have to do this by any means, but readers often have certain expectations based on the genre. Your pen name can signal what sort of content readers might expect from you. A cozy romance writer might choose a name that sounds approachable and nice like Lily Summers over something like Rex Falcon.


Use an Initial

This not only gives you some anonymity but it can conceal things like your gender. If this is important to you (for example, you might be writing in a genre dominated by another gender, or you’re a private person) then consider it. 



Honour Somebody Real

If you’re stuck, look to people you want to honour. This could be a family member, an inspirational writer, or some other icon in your life. You can take their first name, for example, or their surname (if it’s not super distinct and recognisable). Generally avoid taking their entire name unless they’re fine with that.


Get Feedback (Please)

Sometimes even the smartest people miss a very very obvious drawback. Better safe than sorry! Get some feedback on your pen name. You can ask friends, family, or your writers group, or even forums like r/writing on reddit. 

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