Author Journey

Creating the Perfect Pen Name

Okay, you may be asking yourself…

should I create a pen name?

I pondered the same question myself for some time. The key factor in deciding what to do was trying to figure out if my real name would follow these 3 criteria:

  1. Fit with the genre I was writing
  2. Be easy to pronounce and spell
  3. Not being used by another author(s) or public figure(s)

My name missed the mark across the board. Sometimes you get lucky and your name just sticks. Whether it’s your real name or pen, deciding on a name is an important step in your author journey.

Here are some ways to help you decide on your perfect author identity.

If you want to use your real name but it misses the mark on 1 or 2 of the criteria, try a different variation.

For example, if your name is Tabitha Beth Smith, a great variation would be T.B. Smith

or if your name is Jeffery Thomas Hiddlestein, you can be Jeffery Thomas or Thomas J. Hiddlestein

What if those variations aren’t working for you?

This was the boat I was in. I was using an easier version of my name BUT upon further investigation, I found several authors using the exact same name. Not wanting to have meshed in with the rest of them, I decided I had to come up with my very own pen name.

This was as fun as it was frustrating. Piecing together a pen name can take a buttload of time and troubleshooting. Luckily, I am here to try and help you narrow down your new name.

To get started, make a list of names you would like to use or consider using.

This can be names you admire or can create from the letters of your own name. Maiden names or names that run in your family. It could be TV or film characters you love, abbreviations of words that resonate with you.  There are so many options you can go with, so creating a list and then narrowing that down to your top 10 will really help streamline the process.

Next, you want to start writing it out.

Take that list of names and start writing. Choose whatever order you want them to go in and start using that ink. You want to make sure the name you choose is pleasant and easy on your fingers. It has to become you. Jot it down a bunch of times and really look it over.

Would you mind signing this name 100x for a book signing? Is this a name that you can identify with?

Those are the important questions you need to ask yourself. Seeing the name written out as a signature will really help solidify your decision.

Once you are set on a name or two, do your research.

Scour the good old internet and see if the name you want to choose is already being used by an author or public figure. It’s perfectly okay to use a similar or same name as someone else who already is in the limelight. Make sure you are researching what that person is known for.

Are they an author as well? If so, what genre do they write? What audience do they cater to?

You want to avoid any confusion to your future fan base if there is more than one author named J. Tellula Rutherford who writes historical fiction novels, as an example.

Going through these steps will help you narrow in on your ideal pen name. Once you find it…

write it a million times!

Sign it everywhere. The more you see it, the stronger it will begin to identify with you. It will become your alter ego. Your Superman to your Clark Kent.

It took me an entire day of brainstorming and researching to come up with my perfect pen name. Let me break it down for you:

D. – The first initial of my last name

Allyson – The name my parents were going to give me when I was born before my mom changed her mind last minute (literally as I was popping out)

Howlett – The last name of my favorite comic book character, Wolverine.

If you have a pen name, how did you come about it? What factors came in to play when you were creating it?

I’d love to hear your pen name breakdown! Leave a note in the comments!

May Sol’s light shine within you – 


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