We decided to do a book marketing podcast episode on author pen names because they can be a lot of fun. Pen names gives authors an opportunity to get creative! However, choosing a pen name is not a decision you should make lightly because everything you put out there is your brand. I really don’t recommend you “try on a pen name to see if it works” with the idea that you can just turn it on and off. It’s definitely not that simple.
Define “Why” You Need A Pen Name
Authors use pen names for different reasons. Suppose you’re doing it because you really need to protect your identity. In that case, your considerations will be different than if you’re doing it because you want to create an alternative persona for branding reasons. The level of secrecy will also affect your marketing to some degree; if anything, it will help shape the execution.
Do A Search Before You Commit
Assuming you have a pen name in mind, or you’ve landed on an idea or two, please, please do a Google search. It sounds like a no-brainer, but there are very few unique names anymore. And if you’ve had one in mind for years, this could be disappointing – so be prepared. Similar to not falling in love with the first draft of your cover – you have to be somewhat flexible in this industry and not let minor bumps in the road derail you. But seriously, if you’re going to start a brand around a pen name, you want a clean slate and a clear path to your books.
Check all the major social media sites, including Goodreads, because we’ve had authors who haven’t done their due diligence and accidentally picked an author name for someone who already existed!
The entire point of this book marketing podcast episode was to encourage those of you considering a pen name to think about your entire platform – including your website. That’s another potentially tricky road to navigate if you don’t think things through. Maybe you’ll want to branch out and not use your pen name for other titles at some point. It could happen! And it’s not typically easy to have multiple genres, let alone multiple published author’s names, all under a single website or brand.
So if you use a pen name but might not use it for everything, you’re pretty much taking on the responsibility of managing two separate brands and platforms. At least be prepared for that to be your reality!
I hope this book marketing podcast episode was helpful. We love the creativity that a pen name can afford authors, but it definitely comes with next-level branding and planning – so just be willing to put in the early work to ensure it supports your goals along the way!
New episodes of our book marketing podcast go live every-other Thursday! You can stream full episodes from our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Plus, you’ll want to follow us on your preferred podcast platform in order to catch our helpful- and often hilarious- minisodes!
Do you have any suggestions for a future book marketing podcast episode? I would love to hear from you down in the comment section!