A young lady holds her hands over her eyes to show the idea of using a pen name (a made-up name authors use to disguise their identity).

At some point, many authors consider using a pen name. Tempting as it may be, it may cause more headache than it’s worth. Here are three reasons to stick with your real name.

First, Let’s Define Pen Names

A pen name is a fake name. Instead of publishing your books under your name, you create a name to publish under.

As a writer, this seems a natural extension of the creative process. After all, you create characters with names. Why not give yourself one also? Well, because you’re not a character.

Want more reasons to stick with the name your mama gave you? Keep reading.

Pen Names Confuse Others

You want strangers to read your book and fall in love with your characters. Work hard, and that will happen. It just takes time.

Early in your career, you can’t count on strangers to find and review your book. Instead, your first readers and reviewers will be family and friends. Using a pen name makes it difficult for them to find your book.


Because when your loved ones look up your book to order online, they look for your name. You can tell them your pen name as many times as you want, but they won’t remember it. At least not as well as they remember your actual name.

And because people are busy, they won’t ask you for your pen name over and over. They’ll just stop looking for your book.

So, if you want to make it easier for your favorite people to find your book, use that boring name you were born with. It’s easy to remember for the people who matter most.

They Get Awkward

You’re at a party. Someone calls your name, but you don’t respond. They yell it over and over, and still nothing. Why? Because they’re yelling your pen name. It doesn’t register that they’re talking to you, so you ignore them.

Don’t think that can happen? Perhaps not. But this scenario might: You’re at a party. Everyone is having a great time. You’re meeting loads of new people, all who you hope will become fans of your books. Since you have a pen name, you use it. Until you don’t. When a new acquaintance introduces you to her friend, you accidentally give your real name. Now you’ve got work to do. Instead of enjoying the party, you’re stuck explaining that you have a special name for writing. Then you have to explain why you use it instead of your real name to market your books.

Is this kind of embarrassment the end of the world? Not by any means. Just something to keep in mind.

They Feel Fake

Today, authenticity is at a premium. People want to know you’re the real deal. At its core, a pen name is the opposite of authentic. It’s a pretend name that you make up.

Of course, you could keep your secret name a secret until the day you die. But if you sell enough books, that is unlikely to happen. And if you do sell enough books for your identity to become public, you’ve got other problems to deal with.

Of course, this isn’t always the end of the road. Nothing about a pen name is. The question is whether you want to risk appearing less than authentic.

Put Your (Real or Pen) Name on Bookshelves

Whether you opt for a pen name or your birth name, don’t leave your manuscript lingering on your computer any longer. By submitting to us for consideration, you take the first step toward getting your book off your computer and onto bookshelves.