I’ve had this conversation a few times recently, but I’m finally ready to say it in public: what factors are you considering when you choose a pen name? I have to ask, because honestly, I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous pen names that make me wonder why I would buy or contract a book from that person. It’s even worse than judging a book by its cover, I suppose, but there you have it. Why choose something that sounds like either an A) porn star or B)author who never wants her work to be taken seriously? Every time I see an author pen name that borders on the absurd, I find myself wondering if that author thinks Nora Roberts would have been a household name if she’d chosen a pen name like Kristy Kreme (I hope there’s not actually someone with that name and if there is and it’s your real name, my apologies. If there is and it’s not your real name, it’s never too late for a change).
Anyway, you get my point, right? A pen name should be a serious decision and shouldn’t be something you choose because it sounds cute, but because it’s something that’s maybe memorable (and not in a porn star way), easy to sign 100 times at a booksigning, and something that people will take seriously and not snicker at and say “seriously?”.
You should also consider your audience. I suspect that readers of erotic romance are slightly more used to the more off-the-wall names (no offense to erotic romance writers, but well…), but fantasy readers…not so much. Historical fiction? Doubtful. Mysteries, thrillers and fans of just about every genre…really, no. But especially if you write romance, you already have a mark against you in many people’s books, why give them more reason not to pick your book up, more ammunition to ridicule it?
Probably here is where I should apologize for offending someone out there, but truthfully, romance, epublishing, erotic romance…we have to fight hard for respect for all those things and cute, absurd, silly author pen names make that fight just a little bit harder, don’t you think?