Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Morning at the Question Emporium

I was wondering about using a pen name if my name is similar to someone who has a quasi-known name.

There is a Harvard law professor named James L. (my last name) who has published non-fiction books on economics. I would like to use my own name Jim (my last name) but, is that too close?

Should I go by Initials + Last name? Does it even matter if I would theoretically be writing fiction?

I've already started to try to build a brand around my name. If I was to switch to a pen name, would prefer to do so as soon as possible (reserving domain names, twitter accounts, etc.) 

I think you're probably safe using Jim (your last name).
If your name was Steven King, not so much. (The "other" King is Stephen but you'd be surprised how many people misspell it)

If you did want to use a pseudonym, you sign your query letter with your real name and then under it you list your pen name, and your contact details:

Yours truly,
Steven King
(writing as Felix Buttonweazer)

And you're quite right that consistency is important. Building your twitter following and reserving domains should all have the SAME name.


Dora Dee said...

Excellent! I use a pen name and couldn’t quite figure out how one goes about disclosing it. i think I’ll stick to what i have. i resorted to using a pen name so that people at work wouldn’t know what i was up to in my "spare" time.

Off to have my coffee now. Have a great Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, can't believe someone else is writing under Felix Buttonweazer. Now I've got to go out and get a new pen name. And on a Sunday, too. Great.


. said...

thanks for answering my question! w00t!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. My legal name is very common. I use it to sign query letters, but the domain isn't available. This solves a problem.

Steven J. Wangsness said...

My name's not at all common, so this a problem I do not face, for better or for worse. And I don't think anyone's going to confuse my novels with my father's physics textbooks!

Chris Desson said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Finally, an answer that stretches across the board and answers everything from query letters to social media. :)

Unknown said...

What are we not so proud of our own names. Honor thy parents who give the name. Pride yourselves on the upbringing as your name. I have not a care for Juliet's line "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." She refers to feuding surnames anyhow, and we ought to be damn proud of our own birth names. Proud enough to put on the cover of a book we created.

Buzz Malone said...

Show of many people got the feed for this and actually tried to click on

Come on people. I couldn't have been the only one.