The Kill Zone posted a fabulous question today: “If you were to invent the ultimate pen name for your hidden self, what would it be?” I immediately went to the comments section to see all the fabulous answers. Most of them were humorous–obviously, not all commenters were taking the question seriously. Some chose the names of still-living authors. James Scott Bell listed all the pen names for W. C. Fields (there was some doozies in there). Some gave honest answers, including their reason for choosing that name.
(This fountain pen courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
I’ve seriously thought about a pen name, since I have SO many books ready to go, and they span three different genres. One wise teacher (can’t remember who) said that pen names are terrific when you want to jump genres, so that fans of your mystery series don’t find your name on another book, purchase it, open it up at home, and find it’s a fantasy–and they hate fantasy. One good way to solve that dilemma is to use a pen name for the other genre.
Nora Roberts uses a pen name for her sci-fi/mystery IN DEATH series. If a writer as popular as Nora Roberts needs one, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. Stephen King used one in the ’80s to see if he could sell books without his famous name on the cover. Margaret Ogden writes as Robin Hobb for her epic fantasy series, as Meghan Lindholm for her contemporary fantasy works, and uses her real name for short stories.
With today’s boom of e-books, however, many of the experts now say pen names aren’t necessary. Writers are putting out more than one book a year, and they might span genre lines, and readers are savvy enough to read the back copy (or the Amazon blurb) before purchasing and therefore figure out if the book fits into their personal tastes.
There are too many flip sides of this argument for me. I don’t know if I’ll use a pen name or not if (or when) I ever get published. But if I need a pen name, I want to be ready. So here are my choices:
For my fantasy books, I’d choose Sophie Conifer. Quit giggling. I meant it to be kind of silly. “Sophie” is the Greek version of “Sonja.” They both mean “wisdom.” Conifer is a blending of my children’s names (Connor and Christopher). Nora Roberts did the same thing with her pen name, JD Robb. J and D are the initials of her kids, and Robb is an abbreviation for her real last name.
For my mystery and suspense books, I’m going with my real name. They’re my best books, so far, and my favorite genres to write, so these are the genres I want associated with my real name.
Other names I’ve toyed with are S. Hutchinson (kinda obvious) or my maiden name (not going to share it here, for privacy issues, lest my hubby get angry with me for sharing too much). I’ve also considered going with my first and middle names and leave off the last name. Not very original, I know. I’ve seen those Facebook things where you take the name of your cat and the name of the street you live on and that gives you your alter ego/super hero name. In that case, my name should be Dori Timber. I kind of like it.
What about you, awesome reader? Have you considered a pen name? Please share it with me in the comments section. At the least, share your super hero name.