How to Choose a Pen Name

Selecting-an-Author-Pen-Name

There are many reasons authors use pen names. It could be for marketing purposes or it could just be for their own comfort.

But regardless of why one chooses to use a pseudonym,  creating a pen name can play an important part in your book’s marketing.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Why do authors use pseudonyms
  • Surprising authors behind famous pen names
  • Key criteria to come up with the right pen name
  • How to set up a pen name in your KDP account on Amazon
  • Awesome pen name generators for authors

Let's dive into how to come up with cool pen names that will work for your books.

What are Pen Names and Are They Legal?

The Pen Name meaning is an assumed name used by a writer instead of their real name.

Some people also call a pen name a:

  • pseudonym
  • alias
  • fake name
  • pseudo name
  • nom de plume

You might be wondering are pen names legal? And the good news is that Amazon and other platforms are okay with authors using pen names.

There is nothing illegal about it and as you will see later in this article, there are many legitimate reasons for choosing to work under a pseudonym.

Podcast Episode – Why and How to Choose Good Pen Names
                                          

 

Besides, there are many successful writers who work under famous pen names – not their real name. Some of whom will shock you.

Why Do Authors Use Pen Names?

There are many reasons authors choose to use a noms de plume, such as:

  • Fear of reprisal
  • Separation of personal and professional life
  • Similar name to someone famous
  • URL for their name has been taken
  • Protect themselves or their family
  • Better marketing opportunities
  • A name doesn’t fit the genre
  • Writing in multiple genres without confusing fans
  • Just for fun

I cast no judgment on authors who write under pen names. I myself have published extensively under a couple of pen names – although, Dave Chesson is my real name.

I do this because I work for a U.S. embassy and wish to separate the two worlds for professional reasons.

And I am not alone.

Examples of Famous Authors' Pen Names

There are many successful authors who write behind famous pseudonyms. Below are some examples of famous authors with pen names, the real name of each author, and why or how they chose their alias:

J.K. Rowling

Real Name: Joanne Rowling

Why Used Pen Name: Her publisher wanted to disguise that she was a woman so her books would appeal to boys too. She doesn't have a middle name, so she used K from Kathleen, her grandmother.

Famous Works: Harry Potter series

Additional Pen Names Used: Robert Galbraith for her crime novels

Dr. Seuss

Real Name: Theodore Seuss Geisel

Why Used Pan Name: He was banned as editor-in-chief from a magazine for drinking during Prohibition, so he wrote under the pen name Seuss. He added Dr. for his father, who had hoped he would get his PhD, but he dropped out.

Famous Works: The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; The Lorax

Additional Pen Names Used: Theo LeSieg and Rosetta Stone

What do Harry Potter, Jack Reacher and the Lorax have in common? Successful pen names. They work...if chosen correctlyClick To Tweet

Stan Lee

Real Name: Stanley Martin Lieber

Why Used Alias: He wanted to save his real name for his more serious literary work, so he used Stan Lee for the kid stuff. After achieving worldwide recognition for his comic books, he legally changed his name to Stan Lee.

Famous Works: Spider-Man; the Hulk; the Fantastic Four

Lee Child

Real Name: James “Jim” D. Grant

How He Chose His Pen Name: Grant heard an American mispronounce the car Le Car by Renault as “Lee Car,” and Grant once heard an American mispronounce it “Lee Car.” Anything “lee” became a joke in his family and his daughter, Ruth, was “lee child.”

Famous Works: Jack Reacher thriller novel series

Mark Twain

Real Name: Samuel Clemens

How He Chose His Pen Name: He was a licensed river pilot. “Mark twain” is a river term that means two fathoms (or 12-feet) when water depth for a boat is being sounded. “Mark twain” means it is safe to navigate.

Famous Works: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

George Orwell

Real Name: Eric Blair

Why Used Pen Name: To protect his family from the embarrassment of their time living in poverty. He chose George Orwell as a “good round English name.”

Famous Works: Animal Farm; Nineteen Eighty-Four

Mary Westmacott

Real Name: Agatha Christie

Why Used Pen Name: Genre switch from crime and mystery to romance novels

Famous Works: Murder on the Orient Express; And Then There Were None 

The point is, there are a lot of legitimate reasons as to why writers choose a pen name instead of their real name. So, there's no shame if you're considering using an author alias, and here is how to come up with a good pen name.

How to Pick the Right Pen Name For You

The biggest mistake authors make in choosing a pen name is that they don’t consider the marketing value a pen name holds before rushing into a decision.

Understand that the pseudonym you use for your writing can have a large impact on your book and your platform, such as:

  • It can become the domain name of your website
  • It stares your reader in the face on your book cover
  • It can be something people easily recall or repeatedly forget

In essence, it becomes your author brand. So you want to be sure to choose a pen name that evokes the right emotions for your target audience.

So, before you choose your author alias, consider the following five criteria:

Step 1. Identify the Right Age For Your Pseudonym

The age of a writer plays a huge role in the psyche of the readers.

If you are writing an instructional book, then it isn’t a good idea to choose a name that sounds younger than your target reader.

Who wants to learn from someone who is younger, am I right?

If you know a website where your ideal readers hang out, you can use Quantcast.com to learn more about the visitors' demographics. You can see a step-by-step example of this over here.

Later on, you will discover my strategy to find which names are perfect for the age of your readers, so keep reading…

Step 2. Does Your Name Fit Your Niche?

Allison Potter was ready to publish her new thriller book until her publisher told her that her name had to go.

“Allison” sounded safe and old, while “Potter” conflicted with the Harry Potter series – something we will discuss in step 5.

She needed something that was risky and dangerous–like her books. So after much deliberation, she chose the pseudonym “Ali Knight”.

Sounds much better, right?

So, a key thing to consider when choosing your author pen name is whether or not it fits with your genre.

If you are not sure, check the other books in your genre and category on Amazon.

  • Do you see any similarities popping up?
  • Are others using initials?
  • Are they all male or female?

As an author who understands your target market and your competition, you’ll more easily be able to come up with a pen name that fits the vibe your readers are looking for. You can use a pen name generator for authors further down in this article too.

'Allison Potter' vs 'Ali Knight' for a thriller author...a perfect pen name example. What author name will jive with Your readers?Click To Tweet

Step 3. Is the Pen Name Website Domain Available?

You may or may not intend to brand your pen name or write more books under it.

However, if your book takes off and you want to pursue it, it will help if your name’s domain is available. Otherwise, you will be stuck with a second-rate URL  or have to pay a boatload of money to get your name’s URL from a squatter.

So, before picking your pen name, go to Siteground and check if the domain name is available. This one step could save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

 

  1. Type the pen name you're considering into the domain search bar
  2. Click ‘Search'

new domain for pen name with siteground

Siteground will tell you if that domain is available or give you alternative suggestions if it is already taken.

 

Note: No, DarthVader.com is not available…but TheDarthVader is…hmmm… 😉

Step 4. Is the Pen Name Easy To Remember and Spell?

This isn’t a shot at all those difficult names out there, but understand that someone is more likely to remember you if your name is something that sticks out and is not too hard to spell.

Just imagine your fan sitting there struggling to remember your pen name.

“Oh, what was it?” they say scratching their head. Or worse…it's something they can’t even begin to spell.

How will they ever search and find you in Google or Amazon?

Step 5. Is it Close to Another Famous Person’s Name?

Beware of choosing a pseudonym that's similar to a famous author, person, or character. Leeching off someone else's fame is not a good tactic.

More than likely, you:

  • won’t get your author name URL
  • might get into hot water with the famous person
  • it will be near impossible to rank on Amazon or Google for your name

People who search for you will have to go through pages and pages about the famous person before they can even find your work or website. So, having a name that's close to someone else who is more popular than you can be a real killer.

Before you choose a pen name, do a Google search and see what shows up.

When I do this for “Dave Chesson,” it turns out there is a famous skateboarder in the UK who has the same name. Luckily, he isn’t uber famous or else we would be in major competition for Google space…although safe on Amazon space since he hasn't written a book. Hopefully, he doesn't get mad at me for overtaking the “Dave Chesson” search…sorry bro!

 

Now you know the criteria for picking good pen names, but you might need a little more help generating pen name ideas.

Easy Trick for Pen Names That Are The Right Age

If your ideal reader is 35, then your name should sound 35 or older. But how do you know whether your pen name sounds like a certain age?

It's not like you can quantify the age of a name, right?

Well, it turns out BabyCenter.com has a list of the Top Names of every year.

So, let's say your target market is 35-year-old females and you want your pen name to be perceived as a 41-year-old female.

You would:

  1. Go to Google
  2. Type “Top Names of 1977  BabyCenter” then click Search
  3. Select BabyCenter's link (should be #1)

This will give you a list of the most popular male and female baby names in the U.S. for 1977.

Then choose a female name from the list that fits all the criteria above.

In many cases, people choose two first names for a full pen name. Using this list from BabyCenter, we can come up with pen names like:

  • Katherine Michelle
  • Stacy Dawn
  • Wendy Nicole

Still not set on a good pen name? You can try a pseudonym generator or anagram name maker below to create cool pen names.

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Use Author Pen Name Generators

A pen name generator is a piece of software that randomly goes through a database and finds legitimate-sounding names.

If you use the steps above, then you likely have a first name in mind. However, sometimes figuring out an interesting last name that doesn't scream “I'm a fake” can be difficult. This is where a pen name generator can come into play.

One that I like is the Fake Name Generator.

This pseudonym generator is above and beyond any other. Not only will it generate legitimate names, but it will also create a real address, phone number, occupation, and even a credit card number so you can give your new persona supporting context.

The Fake Name Generator is one of the only pen name generators that lets you specify a gender and culture.

How about them apples?!

 

If you want to try more alias name generators, choose one that fits your genre and needs best from the list below:

Last Name Generator – Get a list of last name ideas after adding details about your first name, religion, nationality, etc. You can even choose zombie, vampire, or wizard names.

Victorian Pen Name Generator –  This Victorian name generator will give you 10 random names from the Victorian era. You can pick male or female.

Edgy Name Generator – Choose male, female, or neutral name to generate a list of edgy pen names

Steampunk Name Generator – This is a completely random generator for Victorian names for both male and female pen names.

Fantasy Name Generator – Choose male, female, or neutral and this random pen generator will give you a list of 10 random pen names

Evil Name Generator – Lists random creepy names for all your evil naming needs

Use an Anagram Maker

Finally, some writers like pen names that use the letters of a word, sentence, phrase, or name to create a pen name with hidden meaning. An anagram maker makes this super easy.

I like this pen name generator anagram tool because it lets you customize more and gave better results than the other anagram makers I tried. The results were actually really cool.

The letters from David Chesson can be turned into:

  • Edison Chad
  • Vance Sho
  • Issac Devon
  • Vince Ash
  • Denis Vasco
  • Noah Vic
  • Neo Issac
  • Sho Davis

While Igne's Anagram Generator used the letters from “Jonathan Blackwood” to generate names like:

  • Janna Woodblock
  • Honda Bowjack
  • Jakob Landon
  • Landon Jackboot
  • Jacob Landown
  • Dalton Johan
  • Kahn Tojo Waldon
  • Jonah Town
  • Joanna Wonk
  • Johan Walton

Whether you call it a pen name generator, an alias generator, a fake name generator, a pseudonym generator, or an anagram maker, these tools can help you come up with a pen name that makes both you and your readers happy.

Once you finally choose a pen name, make sure you have it set up correctly in KDP.

How to Create a Pen Name in KDP

Watch the video below to see how to set up a pen name in your Amazon author account. I'll show you exactly how to use pen names in KDP to make sure you get paid for your book sales.


Want more videos like this? Then click HERE to subscribe to my YouTube channel

So, What's Your Author Pen Name?

As you can see, there are many things that go into choosing a pen name.

It shouldn’t just be something you quickly decide because it can actually help you market your book.

Pen names can be your brand and your identity. So, choose wisely using the tactics and criteria listed above.

Did the pen name generators give you any perfect or terrible pseudonyms? Let me know your results in the comments below.

Cheers,

Dave-Signature

149 Comments

  1. G. Thames on August 27, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Okay, so I’ve chosen a Pen Name – thanks for the tips!
    BUT, I don’t want my real photo on my author page (Amazon, etc.). What do you suggest??
    Thanks!

    • Dave Chesson on August 27, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      You could use a stock photo – although I’d recommend of one who doesn’t look like a stock photo.

      • G. Thames on August 27, 2020 at 7:46 pm

        That would work! Thanks!! 🙂

  2. Shivam Patel on July 30, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Hello! Dave – I see your videos on YouTube.
    I am a Blogger. The blog is full of positivity and motivational things.
    Can I get a name for me. Please???
    It would be very grateful of you.

    • Dave Chesson on August 1, 2020 at 1:07 am

      A pen name? Just use the steps above and through my recommendations, you can create a pen name that will help you best market your potential book.

    • Kyle T on August 5, 2020 at 2:21 am

      I have a pen name for you:

      Piddle Topiary

  3. Nikram on July 21, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    A great article because I’ve been thinking of using a pen name. My reason is because I write in multiple genres and want to separate the identity between my lighthearted and more serious books. However, I don’t want to be strict about anonymity because, in all honesty, I’m not going to be able to keep track of multiple names (which is why I will probably opt for something already relevant to me, like initials, middle name, etc.). However, how would the audience perceive a pen name in general…? Because I can see reader bases overlapping. I know there is a large base of readers who would be interested in my parenting books, as well as, political books, as well as religious/spirituality books, for example. Would it come off as misleading or awkward if I don’t try to hide the different names and openly acknowledge the multiple names?

    • Dave Chesson on July 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      I’d go with the initials thing then. Then it is seen as just a way to keep your two platforms separate and easier to remember.

  4. Will on July 20, 2020 at 3:16 am

    Hi Dave. It seems that most writers who want to use a pen name write fiction books. I understand that you create pen names for your nonfiction books (I also want to write nonfiction books using a pen name). Do you create personas and write bios for your websites and for an Amazon author’s page?

    • Dave Chesson on July 20, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Yes I do. However, I will not say something unethically incorrect. However, there was one case where I hired another writer to help me with a subject matter that wasn’t my forte. For that pen name and Author page, I combined our backgrounds to create the one.

  5. Sue on July 10, 2020 at 6:04 am

    My non-fiction/memoir/inspirational book is in the editing stage. I’m certain that I want to use “Carousel” as my first name. But having a hard time finding a last name. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    • Dave Chesson on July 13, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      Oh, that’s a tough one…can’t think of anything either.

      • Sharri on July 19, 2020 at 11:55 pm

        Blue.

        • Dave Chesson on July 20, 2020 at 2:49 pm

          Cool

    • Ev on July 18, 2020 at 3:40 am

      How about Wheeler? (Sorry I keep thinking of ferris wheels for some reason)

    • Carousel's Friend on July 18, 2020 at 6:17 pm

      I’d choose something simple and let Carousel shine on its own as the first name. Something like “Carousel Jones”, “Carousel Smith”, or something short that still packs a bit of a punch without stealing thunder from the first name, like “Carousel Beck”.

  6. Krysia Garlinski (sorry I’m Polish) on July 3, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    I’m having a hard time picking an ‘unforgettable’ nom de plume. I want it to be different and cool but none of the names that I’m coming up with/getting on the generators are very good. Dave, can you please help?
    FYI I’m writing teen fantasy.

    • Dave Chesson on July 4, 2020 at 10:44 am

      The name isn’t that important that it should keep you from moving on. Instead the key is that once you’ve got something, use the steps above to ensure it’s a good choice. Like, can you get the domain? Is there something or someone famous who have that name? Does it sound like it fits your genre or target market? That sort of thing.

  7. Joanne Marley on July 3, 2020 at 12:41 am

    Thanks David for this article. I’m having a problem. I have a pen name in mind. Joan G. Marley. I’m A, not sure if it’s a good pen name for a teen fiction book and B, searched the internet and found it as a British statistics thing. Is it a good name? If so, can I use it?

    • Dave Chesson on July 4, 2020 at 10:43 am

      I take it that the domain is available too. As for the sound of the name for that genre, it sounds fine. And I don’t think British statistics will ruin it.

  8. Krysia on July 2, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    So I’m thinking of writing a fantasy book for 10-13 year olds. I have ideas for what I should do but I don’t know if they are good enough. Help.

    1. Berry Jets
    2. Joan Marley
    3. K. N. Ellingson

    Are any of these a good idea? If not, then what?

    • Dave Chesson on July 4, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Probably – just knowing that the book is fantasy for 10-13 year-olds those would fit, except for Berry Jets…only if it is a comedy or something.

  9. R.R. Martin on June 19, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Hi, this is by far the best article and piece of wisdom on this subject, congratulations to the writer.
    I´m writing and illustrating Kids Books, just for pleasure and can´t decide a good name for it, my name is Rikjaard Rutger Gerome Martinus (I´m Dutch) And I´m looking for a name that works well with kids, a cool brand clicking with that audience, from 3 to 10. Can´t go with R.R. Martin because George R.R. Martin, can´t go with Rick or Ricky Martin, can´t go with Roger Martin (my fav) because there is a famous writer with that name, his books are about Finance and he´s the first person on google search, also there is a literature Nobel prize winner, Roger Martin du Gard. or could be good using Roger Martin? Seems bad idea. My options for kids author and illustrator:
    Rog Martinez.
    M.G. Roger. (Does initials work well with kids?)
    Lord Roger (like Dr. seuss)
    Marty Rogers
    Thanks in advance for any help and suggestion.

    • Dave Chesson on June 21, 2020 at 12:23 am

      I think M.G. Roger is best of the options you listed. or you could use some of the steps above to come up with something completely different.

      • R.R. on June 21, 2020 at 11:03 pm

        Thank you very much! I followed the steps above, I learned kids books authors names are very classic, elegant, a lot of initials concept and very very British. I ended up with this options:
        Robert Paperman
        Roy Pizzarelli
        Roy Hand
        Remington Kats
        Roger McGee or Roy McGee
        M.G. Roy and M.G. Roger

        Thanks in advance for any help and suggestion,
        Fantastic Mr. Roger

        • R.R. on June 23, 2020 at 8:32 pm

          Hi everybody, Any Suggestions on the name list above? If I decided to use two names, one for writer and other for illustrator, Does it have some value or it´s irrelevant?
          Thanks

      • Phil on June 22, 2020 at 2:06 am

        Thank you so much Dave for this inspiring article.
        I write nonfiction (mostly self-help) for youths and young adults and I want to create a pen name because my surname(African, though) is really difficult to pronounce. I used my first (Phil) with my surname on anagram, and what I got were really not fantastic names(more tongue-twisting than my teal surname).

        Hence I have decided to use my son’s name , Joshua (abbreviated as Josh) and my Dad’s middle name, David.

        So, I intend using Josh Davids as my pen name. How about that please?

      • R.R. on June 23, 2020 at 10:10 pm

        Hi Dave
        Would you like to give me your opinion? options: M.G. Roger, Robert Paperman, Roy Pizzarelli.
        I use two names, one writer, the other illustrator, Does it have some value, or it´s irrelevant?
        Thank you Sr!

    • Phil on June 25, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Hi Dave, thank you for the great marketing support you are giving to so many authors like myself. However, I am still expecting your response to my last question I asked about the new pen name I have decided to use.

      Nonetheless, this is a follow-on question to that.

      What picture will you upload on your author’s page on Amazon for this your pen name, since you already uploaded your picture on the author’s page for your real name? Or will Amazon allow you to leave it blank?

      • Dave Chesson on June 25, 2020 at 4:20 pm

        I like Roger McGee best of those. As for pictures, you can leave it blank if you like, or put a different picture that you’re confortable, or even use the same one. No rules against that.

  10. Tucker Daugh on June 17, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    FYI. Be very careful with the “last name” generator. It asks for a lot of things that are used in security settings such as where you grew up, your first pet’s name, your real name, etc. I loved this article. Great info.

  11. Gary Jay on June 17, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    Years ago I read a simple trick if you want to make up a name on the fly or if you want to use it in “awkward” or spur of the moment. Two things we all usually remember: Our middle name and Mother’s maiden name.
    So someone named Mark Richard Jones, whose mother’s maiden name is Thompson for example, could easily use Richard Thompson. 🙂 Just sharing as it has no special method and is easily remembered by the person creating it.

    • Dave Chesson on June 21, 2020 at 12:58 pm

      Great trick/tactic!

  12. Emma Louise on June 10, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    hey im writing mostly supernatural fiction books what do you think of EL Enzo as a pen name?

    • Dave Chesson on June 11, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Sounds pretty good to me.

      • Sadia Aslamzada on June 17, 2020 at 8:03 am

        Hello sir
        I can’t find a pen name for myself it’s kind of so difficult I can’t match anything with my name 😫😥
        Can u please help sir.
        Or other friends here, pleasssse.

        • Dave Chesson on June 17, 2020 at 2:26 pm

          Just use the process above and you should be fine.

  13. Andis on May 16, 2020 at 11:18 am

    hi
    thanks for this article
    if im planing to write kindle books for – money-business segment – would the idea to use as pen name

    Fransis Rockefeller

    be a good idea ?
    thnx in advance
    andis

  14. Boniface Koffa Weah II on April 26, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Hi Dave. Thanks for the great work.
    I have just published my first book titled, The Safe Way From Bullying And Stranger Danger, and have had it placed on sale on the Amazon KDP Platform. Though I have got no reviews yet and need help,how do I change my real author name to my author Pen Name?
    Besides, can I also use my Pen Name in the “About the Author” section of my book?

    Thank you.

    • Dave Chesson on April 27, 2020 at 10:11 pm

      Awesome and yes you can.

      • Luca on July 15, 2020 at 10:02 pm

        hello, I wanted to ask you if I could put the title of doctor in front of my pen name to publish on Amazon … are there any political limitations?

        • Dave Chesson on July 16, 2020 at 6:07 pm

          I don’t think there is a mechanism on Amazon to stop that, but that could cause legal problems if someone finds out and it would be morally misleading.

  15. Joshua on April 26, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Great Article! What if I decide to use my name Joshua M. Kuton this way, will it be okay? Thats if I don’t want to use pseudonym for my books.

    • Dave Chesson on May 2, 2020 at 11:55 am

      Yup – you can do that.

  16. Kinley Handersen on April 11, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    So I’m an aspiring author that writes Action Fantasy books and I’m trying to come up with a decent pen name, hence why I am here, but I cannot come up with a decent last name to use. I decided that I want something like Rose to be the first name, but I cannot come up with any good last names to go with it. My books always have some kind of evil force in them and they make the protagonist break their morales and do bad things to save the world, so I want the last name to be something kinda creepy or evil sounding to reflect that. Can anyone help me?

    • Tyler on May 15, 2020 at 2:05 am

      First name whatever last name Dark. Simple. Rosalee Dark.

    • Richard D Mason on June 8, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      “My books always have some kind of evil force in them and they make the protagonist break their morals and do bad things to save the world”

      You’re SURE you’re not in romance…? LOL!

      • R.R. on June 20, 2020 at 8:58 pm

        That is the best Romance genre definition I’ve seen, haha, good one.

  17. Ava Parent on April 4, 2020 at 6:42 am

    Thank you for the great article, this really helped! I decided to use a pen name since my first name is somewhat popular and my last name provoked some teasing. What`s your opinion on the name Ivy M. Cassidy? I’ve kept my middle initial but changed the first and surname.

    • Tyler on May 15, 2020 at 2:11 am

      Like Ava or Eva better with M Cassidy. More “fluid”. As you can see I took this article seriously 😁

  18. KNi Ssoo on January 8, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Hello Dave I have written short stories in high school under pen name Pelusso (taken from a theater play i acted in). Years have passed and im writting again fanfics, poems and original novels in the making, but name is a big concern. My married name is kinda difficult to pronounce therefore Im going with something like Kim Moon (not male nor female) Kim S Moon or even S K Moon. Does it sound good at all?

    • KNi Ssoo on January 13, 2020 at 4:29 pm

      Someone help please??

      • NJ22 on February 7, 2020 at 6:15 pm

        Hey.
        I would recommend using S K Moon
        It sounds ominous and perfectHope your writing goes well 🙂

        • KNi Ssoo on February 8, 2020 at 4:37 pm

          Ty so much! i like it too! 🙂

          • NJ22 on February 12, 2020 at 11:10 am

            And now I need to find one lol. I cannot think of any.



      • Tyler on May 15, 2020 at 2:19 am

        What genre (?s) are you writing? What age group are you targeting? I like K. S. Moon. Gender and age neutral.

  19. Chana Noeth on December 30, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    I ‘m a teenager aspiring to write someday (books and poetry), and I ‘m thinking of publishing some poetry now. The problem is, my name is impossible to pronounce correctly and it gets on my nerves. I ‘m thinking of doing a variation of my first name or perhaps my middle name, Grace. Through this article, I came up with Hannah G. Nona. Does it roll off the tongue well? Is it pretty unique? Thanks for this article, by the way. I ‘m sure you ‘ve helped a lot of people!

    • Dave Chesson on December 30, 2019 at 5:43 pm

      That name sounds great!

      • Chana Noeth on December 30, 2019 at 5:54 pm

        Thanks 🙂

        • Dave Chesson on January 5, 2020 at 2:14 pm

          Glad to have helped!

    • Tyler on May 15, 2020 at 2:25 am

      Hanah Nona Grace. Sounds exotic and Mysterious

  20. Samuel on October 6, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    I was thinking of the name William Rogers. A quick search revealed that William Rogers was a Captain in the Navy. Can I still use William Rogers, because he died or what? Siteground said the domain was available. My name is Samuel Frazier.

    • R.R. on June 20, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      What genre you write? What about the following: Frazier W. W. Rogers or William Rogers Jr. Depends on the type of audience. Good luck.

  21. Emily Spirits on August 25, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I am currently in the process of writing multiple books at once and I have come to the realize that my name does not really feel right for my writing. I seem to mainly be working with fantasy when I am writing and the name I go by is Angel but as I have said it just does not feel right. I am currently considering the name Elaine Calethien and I figured I might as well see about other people`s opinions are before deciding.

    • Dave Chesson on August 25, 2019 at 9:32 pm

      I like that. Sounds good!

      • Emily Spirits on August 26, 2019 at 5:17 am

        Alright and thank you, so I think i’m gonna get started then. Also this article was extremely helpful

        • I don’t want to say my name on May 20, 2020 at 3:31 pm

          I plan to write fiction books for 8-15 year olds and I was wondering if Rebecca J Allen sounds good.

  22. Regitze Schelske on August 3, 2019 at 8:37 am

    My real name is Regitze schelske and though i would really like to Use it for My book, it is sutch a Hard name even for people in My own country. So i was Thinking about making a pen name. My book is a guide for parents about kids and technology so i wish to be taken seriously. But It is a topic i work with every Day. I am really in doubt if i should take a pen name. I could just simplify My name, like Regi Lindedal (Lindedal is My middlename). If Anyone has an opinion i would really love to hear it.

    • Dave Chesson on August 3, 2019 at 11:55 am

      Or, you could do R.L. Schelske – that looks pretty official and not too much of a mouthful.

      • Regitze Schelske on August 6, 2019 at 9:05 am

        Yeahh! So Nice to get an expert opinion.
        I guess Gina Dal and Nathalia Norn will be for something else, someday.. 😉 And Thank you for writing this article. – Choosing a pen name gets easy with this (and a little help)

  23. ShakerHeightsSpike on July 8, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    I’m thinking of a pen name for my horror fiction and I’ve come up with a couple, both of which I think sound pretty good and play to my Gaelic heritage – Cameron Knox and Malcolm Blake. I whittled my list down by taking the long view. On the off chance my books end up in a brick and mortar bookstore in the horror section then ‘Knox’ will fall between Stephen King and Dean Koontz, while ‘Blake’ will fall between Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell.What do you think – is this too deliberate and cynical a way of looking at my prospective pen names?How about the names themselves for horror fiction?

  24. Sara Khadel on June 7, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    Hi, I checked out a couple of the links you had and I found an anagram of my name that really looked good: Karla Shade. I am writing sci-fi and mystery books so I thought this would be a good fit. What are your thoughts on it?

    • Dave Chesson on June 7, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      Heck yeah! That is awesome and I love it when an anagram works.

      • Sara Khadel on June 7, 2019 at 9:30 pm

        Thanks so much!!! It was the only anagram that worked, some others had stuff like Elsa (nooooo) and Rhea (not bad but doesn’t go with what I’m looking for). But I was so glad when I found it because it went with my story.

        • Mynk Baylor on May 16, 2020 at 2:40 pm

          This was a great article. Although, I already have a pen name, but it was fun to read it.

          Oddly enough, how I came up with is was from my initials. MNK are my actual initials so I figured they sounded like the animal “mink”. So Mynk Baylor is my pen name 🙂

  25. Elphaba Richardson on May 29, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    I have been tossing around a few names. Right now, the top contenders are Ada Blake, Verity Strange, and Phryne Price. Any thoughts?

    • Dave Chesson on May 30, 2019 at 6:34 am

      Depends on your genre or niche.

      • Elphaba Richardson on June 1, 2019 at 1:19 am

        (Historical) magical realism.

        • Dave Chesson on June 2, 2019 at 12:01 pm

          Then they sound like a good fit.

  26. Ire Ade on May 21, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    I made my pen name :Arek Adair. PLEASE NOBODY TAKE MY NAME.IT TOOK AN HOUR TO MAKE IT.

  27. April Davidson Hollingsworth on March 29, 2019 at 2:13 am

    Would you advise for or against letting readers know you write under a pen name (without telling them your real name)? Or should one just keep quiet about it?

    • Dave Chesson on March 29, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Well, that really depends on your reason as to why you have a pen name. If It is just to separate two genres you write in and you want to let on to your email subscribers to see if any of them were interested in your other write, then sure.But if you created a pen name to keep your identity a secret, then do not give people a mission to hunt down. You’ll be surprised how they find out. An example: a writer who everyone knew used a pen name, wrote in a post that they just ran a particular marathon at a certain time. An eagle eyed follower went to the race`s results, found the specific time and BHAM, knew their identity. Oh the internet.

  28. m.g. on February 26, 2019 at 12:52 am

    I’m writing a dystopian fantasy story and I do not know how to phrase my name: should it be my initials (m.g.), or my pseudonym screen name methri diae. (Not going to include my real name for privacy reasons). What would you recommend? Honestly, i’m down for anything.

    • Dave Chesson on March 29, 2019 at 11:10 am

      initials are a trend. With regards to a name like Methri Diae, that might be off putting because I’m not even sure I could pronounce it…much less remember it.

  29. Mackenzie Trimm on February 20, 2019 at 4:34 am

    I’m thinking of writing a few short eBooks and thought of using my middle name Taylor and my grandmother`s maiden name DeHaven, so it would be Taylor DeHaven The books would be fiction books geared towards mid to late teens and early twenties somethings. Would Taylor DeHaven be okay?

    • Dave Chesson on March 29, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Sounds good to me. JK Rowling doesn’t have a middle name. But to make that abreviation she used her dad`s middle name, which if memory serves me correctly, it was Kenneth.

      • Alison Wu on April 4, 2020 at 2:46 am

        Actually, J.K. Rowling`s middle initial stands for Kathleen, which was her grandmother`s name. According to Wikipedia. 🙂

  30. Jamie Smartkins on February 5, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Thanks Dave for this amazing article . How the name Jamie Smartkins sound? I have just finished an urban fantasy novel. I have just started building a website under this name to build my own author brand before publication.

    • Dave Chesson on February 6, 2019 at 4:36 pm

      No problem and that sounds like a great name!

      • Jamie Smartkins on February 7, 2019 at 2:15 pm

        Thanks Dave.

  31. Flaming Man of Iron on January 2, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    This is tough. Every time I try gender neutral permutations with a letter or two and using one of my 4 given names, it says the domain for a .com has already been purchased. Rather irritating.

    • Dave Chesson on January 2, 2019 at 6:23 pm

      Yeah, choosing a pen name can be tricky. It is definitely worth taking the time to find one that you can buy the domain for though. Have you tried any of the pen name generators yet?

      • Flaming Man of Iron on January 2, 2019 at 7:03 pm

        I have tried them, but not that happy with what I got back. The tricky part is I’m a man writing in the romance genre, so I want something neutral. I’m not going to lie and say I’m a woman, but at the same time, do not want to shoot myself in the foot marketing wise.Yet Neutral names just do not sound as good (to me) imo based on my real name. LL Nelson, EM Nelson, ME Nelson, MN Elliott, LL Elliott… Hmm, that last one has a free .com domain.

  32. Nora Michalská on October 25, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    I noticed a trend in three syllable names, really catchy and easy to brand / spell.

    • Dave Chesson on October 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      Haha…yup. Gotta love…marketing.

  33. Chiara on October 24, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    This makes me sad, “Her publisher wanted to disguise that she was a woman so her books would appeal to boys too.” because it is so indicative of the power of the patriarchy and the suppression of women. We NEVER have male authors being told they should use a female name so that their books are appealing to girls too.

    • Dave Chesson on October 24, 2018 at 8:47 pm

      It actually works both ways – just like JK Rowling chose a gender neutral name so as to hide her particular genderl: https://www.theguardian.com…Not taking away from the main point of societal suppression, but just pointing out that the gender can play a role in marketing appeal based on different genres/subjects.

    • Flaming Man of Iron on January 2, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      FYI, most men who right romance or erotica have to use Pen Names, as the submarket won’t by their books. And Men who do use their own name, have a tough go of it.

  34. Gallacious Grant on October 24, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Dave, I’ve published under my real name in the past, do I simple go and change to pen name now, or wait until I have NEW book?

    • Dave Chesson on October 24, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      You can always just go in, and change the name of hte author of the book in your KDP account. That is totally up to you.

  35. Mesh on July 22, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks Dave for this article.I want to write a book to guide people aged 20 yrs to 35 yrs on tips to grow their career beyond their wildest dreams.What are examples of good pen names for this work .

    • Dave Chesson on July 22, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      Awesome and glad you like it. As for your question, that really depends on your genre, subject matter, or desired perception based on the name.

  36. D.B.S. on July 10, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Does the name D.B.Frost sound okay? I want something that is catchy. I write mostly fantasy and sometimes dabble in science fiction. Thank you!

    • Dave Chesson on July 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      I think so, but “Frost” bring in thoughts about Poetry and Robert Frost

      • D.B.S. on July 12, 2018 at 5:16 pm

        That is true. I did not even think of that… Back to the drawing board!

      • Phil on June 22, 2020 at 1:56 am

        Thank you so much Dave for this inspiring article.
        I write nonfiction (mostly self-help) for youths and young adults and I want to create a pen name because my surname(African, though) is really difficult to pronounce. I used my first (Phil) with my surname on anagram, and what I got were really not fantastic names(more tongue-twisting than my teal surname).

        Hence I have decided to use my son’s name , Joshua (abbreviated as Josh) and my Dad’s middle name, David.

        So, I intend using Josh Davids as my pen name. How about that please?

  37. C.K Beach on July 2, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    How about the name C.K Beach?

    • Dave Chesson on July 2, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Sounds pretty good – what genre or subject?

      • C.K Beach on July 10, 2018 at 8:14 pm

        Middle school fiction. Just some short stories I guess on my own website. I’m not thinking about publishing it.

        • C.K Beach on July 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm

          Also, I was curious if you could do something like J.K Rowling the II if you are going to write fantasy. I am not gonna do that but was just wondering! Thank you!

  38. Emily Faber on June 26, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I am thinking of writing a book but my first name ‘Emily’ is very common and i was thinking of having a pen name. I thought about it and came up with Colleen James. Does it sound it alright? I like it because it shows my Irish and Welsh heritage. My name used to be Emily Flynn. It changed to Faber a few years ago when my mam got married. James is a common welsh last name but it is a family name, my great-grandmother is Emily James, who is still around at 96! I got the name colleen from my late step-grandmother`s name, her name was Susan Colleen Faber.

    • Dave Chesson on June 26, 2018 at 11:53 am

      I think it sounds good.

  39. Susan Zanone on June 18, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I ‘ve written a pirate adventure novel that I ‘m looking to publish on Amazon. While it does have romance in it, its appeal goes beyond that. Would I be better off using initials or a less feminine sounding pen name to insure a wider readership?

    • Dave Chesson on June 21, 2018 at 2:39 am

      Initials are great and so is a good sounding Pen name. Just choose wisely.

  40. T. Lane on May 23, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    If you wanted to keep anonymous and start a writing blog under a pen name, in hopes of eventually turning a profit, how would you go about doing this to still legally make money without exposing your legal name?
    I am interested in doing this to share my experience with some health problems, but I do not want my name to be attached to it.

    • Dave Chesson on May 23, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      No problem. On your website, you can use any name you deem. The only thing you’ll need to do though, is make sure that you apply “Privacy” to your domain (which usually costs something like $10 a year and you can get this with whoever you bought your domain through). This way, people cannot use Who.is to find out who really owns the domain. Otherwise, you’re good to go. If you make money through Affiliate links, your information is not provided publicly.

  41. Janne Titcombe on May 20, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I would really love some feedback on this. My married surname is Titcombe (pronounced Titcum) and I have just had my first book, an erotic romance, accepted by a publisher. I was planning to use my surname with my initials as my writing name, but the publishers have told me they want to change it as they say initials are difficult when it comes to search engines. My dilemma is that Titcombe almost seems like it IS a psydonym for the genre I’m writing, so despite being my real name is it just a little too obvious and cliche?

    • Dave Chesson on May 21, 2018 at 2:07 am

      I won’t lie, I chuckled a little. 🙂 But in truth, I feel as though it does play out a little too obvious and humorous – of which I’m sure yours is not the humorous erotica type. But will someone pronounce it correctly? I probably would not have if you hadn’t of written it out. So…yeah, I was not much help, was I?

      • Janne Titcombe on May 24, 2018 at 11:19 am

        It is always good to have a second opinion and your article was very useful, especially what you said about having a memorable name that people could spell. My name is never pronounced or spelled correctly, so overall, I think I have come to terms with the idea of just using a completely different pen name 🙂

        • Dave Chesson on May 24, 2018 at 6:08 pm

          Hi Janne, ah – good call and way to use the information to decipher my not-so-helpful analysis. You rock!

  42. Brittany Michelle Vaughn on March 1, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I get married in June and my new name will be Brittany Spears… Go figure. I just cannot settle on a pen name I like… How do you know which one is the right one? It is so hard!

    • Dave Chesson on March 1, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Oh, That is kind of a predicament. Well, it takes a while but in time you’ll find one that you know you like. I’d just use the suggestions above to help craft one that you not only like, but also will help fit your book and the personification of your avatar.

      • Brittany Michelle Vaughn on January 29, 2019 at 5:43 am

        Thought I’d give an update. 😁 I just had my first poem published under my pen name last week!! I finally decided on Chelle Royal and now that It is in print, I’m so excited. Thank you for posting such an encouraging and helpful article about pen names.

        • Dave Chesson on January 29, 2019 at 6:45 pm

          Congratulations on choosing a pen name and publishing your first poem! That is awesome.

  43. Sean Reilly on February 1, 2018 at 4:47 am

    I have a question. Would it be alright to use a company name as the author? Especially if I already own the domain name? Say my domain name was PerfectMarketingSolutions.com (It is not – It is way better than that, and nothing to do with marketing.) Would it be alright to have the book be written by Perfect Marketing Solutions then? Sounds like an entity, rather than just a single Joe Shmo.
    Thanks for all the info!

    • Dave Chesson on February 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Sean, for Amazon, I’ve seen people do it and they do not stop them, nor is there something in their TOS that I’ve seen that says you cannot. From a marketing perspective, the could work depending on the subject matter.

  44. Sean Reilly on February 1, 2018 at 4:47 am

    I have a question. Would it be alright to use a company name as the author? Especially if I already own the domain name? Say my domain name was PerfectMarketingSolutions.com (It’s not – it’s way better than that, and nothing to do with marketing.) Would it be alright to have the book be written by Perfect Marketing Solutions then? Sounds like an entity, rather than just a single Joe Shmo.
    Thanks for all the info!

    • Dave Chesson on February 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Sean, for Amazon, I’ve seen people do it and they don’t stop them, nor is there something in their TOS that I’ve seen that says you can’t. From a marketing perspective, the could work depending on the subject matter.

  45. Tessa Marie Weir on January 22, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Hello! I am going to use two seperate names (as books often say author and illustrator)
    but the first name (my actual Pen name) is Alivia Catheryn Eacret
    But on the title it would say written my ACE..kind of mysterious, and its the main character in my book BUT she has other names (like spiderman is peter parker)Any opinions on this?

    • Dave Chesson on January 22, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Only that you should be careful. Some of the markets might require that the Title and ‘author name” be the same on the cover as on the sales page. Some have verbage that makes it sound like it goes either way.As for the ACE name, that might confuse the reader. They probably don’tknow That is your character and might be turned off by the discontinuity. Shoppers get spooked too easily.

  46. Tessa Marie Weir on January 22, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Hello! I am going to use two seperate names (as books often say author and illustrator)
    but the first name (my actual Pen name) is Alivia Catheryn Eacret
    But on the title it would say written my ACE..kind of mysterious, and its the main character in my book BUT she has other names (like spiderman is peter parker)

    Any opinions on this?

    • Dave Chesson on January 22, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Only that you should be careful. Some of the markets might require that the Title and ‘author name” be the same on the cover as on the sales page. Some have verbage that makes it sound like it goes either way.

      As for the ACE name, that might confuse the reader. They probably don’tknow that’s your character and might be turned off by the discontinuity. Shoppers get spooked too easily.

  47. Lilli Brown on September 24, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    So I was thinking about going with Taylor Gardner (the website taylorgardner.com would be open) as I am writing a ya fantasy geared towards teens (I hope). Do you think this would be a good idea? If not, what is another name I should consider? I want a name that pops. I am writing under a pen name so I have a name that is not as generic and so that I can stay anonymous.

  48. J. Eddie on November 29, 2016 at 5:29 am

    I just have to bring this up, honestly it humors me more than anything else, quite funny indeed. This is a quote taken from the article above, read it and find out what “stares” you in the face. Provided a nice laugh for the evening.

    “It takes up a significant section on your book cover and stairs your reader in the face.”

    • Dave Chesson on November 29, 2016 at 6:25 am

      Great find! Actually I just hired a full time editor for the website (yay) but haven’t gotten them started on previous articles yet. But thanks for the heads up.

  49. MJ Barrelet on October 24, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Dave, great article! But I have a question on what picture of yourself do you upload if you have a pen name? I would want to use my pen name on emails etc, and find it’s more personable if you associate a picture with the name. Could I use an older version of myself? Any other ideas?

    • Dave Chesson on October 24, 2016 at 2:04 am

      Hi MJ, thanks! That really depends on you. I know lots of authors who us a pen name but definitely don’t hide their pictures. I know one in particular who uses a picture of them 15 years ago. One key thing though, is what would your target market respond best to? If you’re trying to maintain some level of anonymity, then perhaps a picture of your staring off towards something – thought provocative, but not completely revealing.

  50. Elizabeth on September 26, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I’m thinking about using E.R.M for fantasy young adult writing, will that work?

    • Dave Chesson on October 24, 2016 at 2:01 am

      I’d recommend actually making it somewhat of a name instead of just initials. People associate with people. You can do E.R. Murphy or something like that.

    • French Toast Mafia on July 3, 2017 at 2:38 am

      That might be a little off-putting because it spells “erm”, so I think people would be more likely to laugh than to want to read your book. I agree with Dave; you should insert a surname in there somewhere.

  51. Andrew Taylor on May 12, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    I use a pen name because I do not want to mix my PTSD and Moral Injury writing with my fiction writing..

    • kindlepreneur on May 13, 2016 at 12:08 am

      Agreed! Helps to stratify the subject matter.

  52. 3 Ways to Find Out Who Your Readers Are on February 27, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    […] with go right over their heads. Furthermore, I’ve considered demographics even when choosing my pen name. This way, I can choose the name in which my target market would best […]

  53. stvwrd on November 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Another reason to use a pen name: Deciding NOT to use one is not a decision that is easy to take back. I’ve done a deep dive on this lately, and found that, since I published the book in print as well, and it has an ISBN, it is impossible to change the author name. Best you can do is publish a new edition under a pen name. I didn’t want to do that because I didn’t want to lose my 60+ good reviews.

    But then once the book was totally ready to go I figured out that since the book is about 50% longer now, I HAVE to do a new edition anyway. It’s not as bad of news as it seems though, because Amazon NEVER deletes a book from it’s records (only whether or not it is available, via used books or whatever), which means that all those reviews will still exist. And in fact…. I’m pretty sure I have seen Amazon put the same book in different edition versions on the same page, because I’ve seen “This review refers to an earlier edition” comments before.

    But then this brings up even more questions, such as: Does the title have to be exactly the same as the previous edition for it to get lumped together?

    Argh… what I wouldn’t give to have a friend on the inside at amazon somewhere right now…

    • kindlepreneur on May 13, 2016 at 12:08 am

      How did I miss this comment. Great point….It’s way easier to go the other way – pen name, then real. And yes to the title.

  54. […] Vía: Kindlepreneur […]

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