Many authors use pen names, also known as pseudonyms. Perhaps they want to separate their personal life from their writerly life, create a brand around pen name, want a chance at a new persona, or write in different genres and want to keep things separate.
Common questions surrounding pen names:
When should I introduce a pen name?
I suggest querying with your real name. This way, as an agent, I can find you. However, if you are an established writer with a pen name mention your pen name in your query so I can look up your previously published titles. You can introduce it when you start to move forward in the process, signing with an agent etc.
Will an editor or agent suggest a pen name to me?
They might. With the case of one of my clients she had a common first name and common last name. Lovely names, but in this case we want readers to search and find her, not a variety of writers with the same/similar name so we created a pen name. You can wait until the publishing stage to come up with a name with your editor. However, if you’ve gotten that far with your own name usually people stick with it.
If I am writing in women’s fiction and YA should I keep my name consistent across genres or create a new brand?
I am usually a fan of consistency in all cases, but with this one I suggest a new name so that readers won’t be confused.
Lastly, a pen name gives a writer a chance at a new genre, series or publisher if their first book didn’t do so well. A pen name is part of your brand and a big marketing opportunity so think carefully about it, whether a sentimental or marketing centric choice.
And just for good fun: find your pseudonym with a pen name generator! When I put my name into the generator I got Ella Mentry. What do you think? Suits me? What’s yours?