So, I’ve had more than a few people ask me why I’m using a pen name for my children’s book(s) because, after all, “I know it’s you who wrote it.” Thanks, but before you get on your Twitter and scream it to the world like it’s the exposé of the century, let me explain the reasoning behind why I’m using a pen name.
1) To differentiate between genres. You may not think this is a big deal because readers will be able to see the difference between the title descriptions and categories not to mention, the cover art is a dead give away. Well, you’re right, but there are quite a few younger kids using the Internet and browsing for books. I’d rather not have them download one of my young adult books and have their parents ranting at me in a 1 star review.
2) Branding. Sometimes readers, if they like a book, will search out additional titles by said author hoping for similar content. By having a pen name I further set myself up to be associated with a certain genre such as children’s books, therefore, not confusing my audience.
Is it a bad thing to be associated with multiple genres? The short answer, no. Unless you’re writing something polar opposite to your other genres such as children’s books and erotica. I would definitely hope that you are using a pen name if writing in these two genres because all of your books are connected on most digital retail sites, which means the child searching for more kids books by you will also be exposed to your racy adult themed titles.
I’ve read posts by other authors making humorous jabs at us pen name users who may not remember what name we’re posting under and reveal ourselves anyway. So be it. It does require more marketing and promotion, therefore, separate accounts for social media, email and even websites does makes sense. However, with the host of tools available, including HootSuite, marketing and promotion can be contained in one area with one login.
Other reasons writers might use a pen name include:
Anonymity – some writers need the cloak of a pen name because of various situations, don’t want family/coworkers to find out, it helps them to write more freely than if they used their own name, pursuing traditional publishers at the same time they’re self publishing, etc.
Individuality – some writers believe their real name is too similar to another public figure/writer, etc.
Uniqueness – then there are writers who believe their name is too common or maybe not common enough (read – too hard to pronounce much less spell).
In the long run I don’t think using a pen name is going to hurt an author, at least not in my case. If people really want to find out everything I’m associated with they can with a little sleuthing. The Internet is just that accommodating. Have I lied by using a pen name? To some degree, but if I link my other pen names to my website explaining to the reader that I use other names, then it’s not a lie, right? Hopefully it doesn’t cause a rift between me and my audience and if so, I’ll write about that too!