As a writer, your name is your brand. I know, I just said brand, and you’re thinking that brands belong to businesses, not to writers. But you’re wrong. If you want to make money as a writer (and who doesn’t?), then you need to have some business savvy. And that starts by creating a strong author brand.
Priscilla Goudreau-Santos wrote a great blog post about ways to build your author platform. You can read it here, so I won’t rehash those details. Instead, I want to talk about your name.
The name you choose to write under will be your author brand. A lot of writers get hung up on whether or not they should use a pen name. Sometimes they’re concerned that their writing could impact their current careers. Sometimes they don’t want to upset their grandmother. And sometimes they think it sounds cool to have a nom de plume. That’s a fancy way of saying pen name. So is pseudonym.
There are some great reasons to write under a pen name. A few of these include:
-Your name is the same as an already published author.
-You do need to maintain some privacy (i.e., you’re a high school English teacher writing erotica).
-You want to tackle a different genre and you want to give your readers a heads-up that this book will be something different (think Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb).
There are some terrible reasons to write under a pen name, too. A few of these include:
-In today’s information age, it will be hard for you to maintain your privacy (J.K. Rowling learned this the hard way).
-You already have a following on a popular blog or social media. Using a pen name means you start from scratch.
-You want a name that is cooler, more you, more something. A pen name isn’t going to make you cooler or make readers more likely to pick up your book. The opposite might be true, especially if you choose something outlandish.
Your Name = Your Brand
Regardless of the name you decide to publish under, know that your author name equals your author brand. Your author name is what you want to use to build your platform: your website, your social media accounts, your blog, etc. You want readers to connect with you the author, not with one particular title of your book. If you make the mistake of choosing your website’s domain name as your book title, what happens when you write another book? Always stick with your author name.
Creating your author brand around your author name has another added benefit. It builds your confidence as writer. When you have an entire website devoted to you and your words, you get a little boost. So the next time you walk into a crowded room, you can say, “Hi, I’m So-and-So, and I’m a writer.”