The Pros and Cons of Having a Pen Name With 6 Examples From Famous Authors

What is a Pen Name?

  A pen name is a  made-up (false) name that authors use instead of their real names for their creative works. A pen name is also known as a pseudonym. It can be similar to the author’s real name or completely different.

Why do Authors and Writers Use Pen Names

              Authors and writers use pen names for many different reasons and with many different intentions. Some reasons authors use pen names are 

  • To protect or hide their true identity and private life.
  • To separate their writing life from their personal life.
  • To write under a name that represents who they are, their writing style, their writing purpose is, and what their writing represent
  • To write under a name with a fresh slate. With a name that isn’t attached to any bias, any race, any gender, any origin, or any family line.

Many authors use pseudonyms and many do not. Based on many factors and reasons each author or writer chooses to use a pen name based on how it benefits and suits them. In fact, one author can have multiple pseudonyms. Did you know that J.K. Rowling, the author most famous for the Harry Potter series, has two pen names?

Here are 6 famous authors who you probably didn’t know used pen names.

  • Mark Twain = Samuel Clemens
  • JK Rowling & Richard Galbraith = Joanne Rowling
  • Goerge Orwell = Eric Arthur Blair
  • Dr. Suess = Theodore Suess Geisel
  • C.S Lewis = Clive Hamilton
  •  Benjamin Franklin = Mrs. Silence Dogood


Does A Pen Name Really Give Privacy?


A pen name…

  • comes with a blank and fresh reputation.  
  • can be very unique, allowing writers to stand out
  • Controversial work won’t be attached to the real author
  • does not have to be attached to a picture or logo
  • Can protect an author and an author’s family from backlash on a controversial piece
  • allows a writer to create without the pressure of keeping their reputation:


  • It may take time to build a reputation
  • Because a pen name is often without a face or physical person, it can be hard to develop loyal readers
  • An author has to be extra careful about revealing their pen name. Especially if they’re excited about a new release or an award.
  • In today’s modern world having a pen name can seem pointless because of how accessible information is. Authors behind pen names are being revealed much much more. Keeping a pen name secret in today’s world requires a bit more work and effort.
  • Money

    Can a pen name get you more money?


    A pen name…

    • can open up multiple streams of income if you have multiple books under multiple pen names. This income would be on top of the income authors already earn from publishing a book.8 ways published authors can make money
    •  Depending on the terms of the agreements between a publisher, author, and estate handler, a pen name can be treated just like a birthname: an author can pass on wealth 


  • Depending on the level of discretion kept and the terms of agreements made with a traditional publisher, a separate social security number and/or bank account may be needed (for some authors or writers this can be a pro)
  • Tax can get complicated
  • Lifetime

    Can a pen name live longer than the author?


    A pen name…

    • Can live even after an author has passed (so long as the book or creative piece lives.


  • Consider the lifetime of a pen name in case you change your mind. It is possible for an author’s name to be changed on a book. But years after the book was published, that new name may require some time for recognition.
  • More Pros and Cons of Having a Pen Name


  • A writer can write in multiple genres with the different pen names
  • It can help people with a large following write earnestly without overhyped or negative press attached to their personal life
  • An author can enjoy their book in the real world as a reader and consumer
  • Authors can express a different part of themselves in a new way
  • Unique names can really make an impression
  • Con

  • Depending on the level of discretion kept and the terms of agreements made with a traditional publisher, a separate social security number and/or bank account may be needed
  • Tax can get complicated
  • Hard names can be hard to remember
  • Easy or common names can be used by other authors and writers as well. Or very similar to other writer’s names
  • Take Away Tips: 2 Things To Remember When You Decide If You Want To Use A Pen Name

    Pen names can be awesome. But they also come with disadvantages. If you decide to use a pen name, don’t forget these two things…

    1. Find out how you need to legally protect your pen name, and what legal actions are required of you to use it to publish a book.
    2.  If you want to be paid under your pen name know the financial and legal actions needed to do so.

    Some requirements can vary by state

    Until my next words(on here that is)

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