How To Choose Your Author Name

By on February 1, 2016
How To Choose Your Author Name - Writer's

If you are hoping to have a long and lucrative career in writing you may have thought about whether to choose a pseudonym for your work. Many of the most well-known authors have used pseudonyms in the past, for a myriad of reasons, whether to appear more exciting and mysterious, to try out a new genre of writing, or to avoid being pigeon-holed or stereotyped.

But in this day and age is it really necessary to change your name for your work and if so, how do you decide what it should be?

If you are lucky enough to sign a book deal, one of the biggest decisions you have to make is how you wish your name to appear on its cover. Many new authors want to first understand the reasons behind choosing a pseudonym at all, after all surely you want everyone to know that your work was written, well, by you?

The truth is there are several reasons why you might be tempted. Some are more practical such as protecting people who you may have written about in your book, or indeed yourself, should your work be likely to cause strong emotional reactions in your audience, or if it is one tackling delicate subject matter. You may have a particularly exotic name that is difficult to pronounce or spell, you may wish to try your hand at many different types of writing, spanning different genres, fiction and non-fiction etc, and may not wish to confuse or disappoint your fan base, or perhaps you simply would prefer to separate your work life from your personal life and remain as anonymous as possible in the public eye.

It is also possible that your publisher will suggest a pseudonym if you are a better known author. Apparently it can be detrimental to those who have achieved continued success to come up with a new name in order to attract new audiences. The fear that the public will actually avoid buying books written by the same author over and over again means that by using a new name they can start afresh and hopefully attract a new following.

So if you have decided to choose a pseudonym, how do you decide what to pick? This of course is a huge decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Once you have decided on your author name, you cannot go back on it. Because of this it is a good idea to take your time, consult friends and family as well as your editor and publisher or agent, to get second opinions and discuss all your options thoroughly.

Before you make your decision, think about the following:

How comfortable do you feel having your real name recognised, are you happy for your personal life to become public? For your fans to be able to contact you easily (via the phone book, social media etc?). Do you feel like your genre would benefit from having a male or female author name? Would your novel benefit from having an author name that is simple, and easier to remember than your real name? Would you prefer your author name to have a fun, positive association with the type of book you are writing i.e. Sylvia Fox for racy romance novels, or D.R.Hunt for detective fiction.

While making the tough decision whether or not to write under a pseudonym, it is always best to take your time and try out a few options before committing to one. Whatever you do, make sure that you give it a good deal of thought to ensure you are making the best choice for you personally, as well as for your career.

Bethany Cadman -contributor

Bethany Cadman -contributor

About Ty Cohen


  1. David Lightfoot

    February 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    This is very interesting. If you see my name, you will know that many people have commented that I have a very good author’s name, and a few more have commented that they WOULD by a book with the name “David Lightfoot” on the cover.

    One question you should ask yourself when a wannabe writer tells you his/her name is, “Would I buy a book with that name on the cover?” Coupled with that writer’s perceived talent, if the answer to that question is YES, then a pseudonym is not needed. If the answer is NO, then you might want to brainstorm some ideas.

    Oh, and I have another great idea for a racy romance novelist named. How does “Julia Dillinger” sound? That’s a name I once recommended on Yahoo! Answers, and it got Voter’s choice.

  2. Charles Miller

    March 9, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I was hoping for a little more with the billing, “How to choose your author name.” But still, the article is interesting. I published one how-to ebook and used the name C.F. Miller, partly because Charles Miller seems so plain. I’m toiling with a work of fiction now, and I wonder about using a different pen name. I write how-to books, non-fiction, and I am just now starting work with fiction. I wonder about having a different pen name for each genre.

  3. Mike

    March 9, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I just changed my author name on Amazon and I inserted a new photo too…

    funny thing is I even changed myself from male to female…. hehehe

  4. Mike

    March 9, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I just changed my author name and picture I changed myself from male to female too… hehehe

  5. Gavin

    March 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    This is all good food for thought. I have struggled with this myself, having co-authored a novel. Our own names often give people pronunciation problems and spelling issues. Plus my co-author is a female professor who writes scholarly works under her own name, whereas I’m a male published poet under mine. So we opted to do a (hopefully) more easily remembered mash-up of our names, creating a single author female pseudonym. Now if we start going out for book signings and readings we might have a new issue when we face the public! Ha, ha!

  6. Denise Brooks

    July 15, 2019 at 3:59 am

    I have chosen the name Jae-Dee Collier because my publisher did not want any real names in the book to protect against liability.
    So I chose initials reversed to my real name and my Great Grandmothers Surname. Also Collier was a bit closer in the alphabet so if put in alphabetical order on the shelf the searcher doesn’t get exhausted trying to find my book.
    Also the Title of the Book is Jae-Dee Survives the home of Many Mothers a Fictional Story inspired by a Memoir. This way the Memoir is written by Jae- Dee giving the authenticity necessary to the real life story.

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