Help! What should my pen name be? | Fun Questions

August 30, 2014 Fun Questions 24

Fun Questions LogoJoin me every Saturday as I ask a Fun Question that’s been on my mind. I’ll give you my take, but I really hope you’ll jump in with your answers too, since I’m really curious to know what my fellow readers and bloggers think! So today’s question is…

What should my pen name be?

As some of you are aware, I’ve been trying my hand at writing this past year. I’ve actually completed the rough draft of a book, a novella, and a short story. Well, I’ve actually finished several rounds of edits on the short story and I’ve decided to submit it to a competition for publication in an anthology. Plus, I’ve decided that it’s time to start thinking about getting the novella and book published. Which means, it’s time to get serious about my pen name.

Why do I think I need a pen name?

I’m not 100% certain that I need a pen name. Part of me would really like to use my real name, so that I’m easily associated with what I write. I mean, that’s a lot of work and I’m proud of what I write (I still will be when it gets the inevitable DNFs and 1 star reviews). I figure, even if people don’t like the books I write, I did write them. That’s more than many people can say. And, of course, I’m hoping that at least some people will love them. So, that’s why I’d keep my name.

But I have a few reasons to get rid of it:

  1. My real name is boring and a dime a dozen. See how many different hits you get. Not smart branding, at least that’s what I’m thinking.
  2. I’m in Academia and while I have no intention of being a professor (and thus publishing research), I’m thinking that it might be smarter to have a name that isn’t quickly associated with me in my day job.
  3. If EVERYONE hates my work, at least it will be easier to disassociate myself!

So, here’s where you come in. I have a poll where you can vote on what you think would be the best pen name for me. I’ve included my real name, an anagram of my name, my name with my BF’s last name, and a free entry where you can make other suggestions. I also considered using Berls, but couldn’t seem to come up with anything – using it as a first name or last name – so if you have any ideas using Berls that would be great. I really appreciate your help with this because I’m VERY stuck!

What do you think? Do I need a pen name?

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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

24 Responses to “Help! What should my pen name be? | Fun Questions”

  1. Lark

    I like your real name with middle initial, but I understand why you’re hesitant to use it. A pen name gives you a little distance from your other professional life. Personally, when I’ve thought of using a pen name, I’ve played with some of the family surnames from a few generations back – my mom’s maiden name, for instance, with my own first name.

    Used to be, when picking a pen name, you wanted one that would put you around eye level in the appropriate genre section of the bookstore. Now that so many of us buy books online, that matters less, I think.

    You could go with something like Kimber Lee Samson — something similar to your name but different enough not to come up in a search.

    Whatever you do, don’t pick one that’s impossible to pronounce, or easy to mispronounce in a funny or suggestive way. And remember, if you’re successful in writing, you could be living with that name for a long time.

    Good luck, and let us know what you decide!
    Lark recently posted…Sunday Post – 8/31/14My Profile

  2. Lola

    I just filled in the form! How exciting that you are writing a book, I didn’t know that yet. Coming up with a pen name sounds difficult, because on the one hand it’s nice to have it associated with your own name, but indeed some distance by having a pen name would be nice as well. Good Luck with writing and choosing a pen name!
    Lola recently posted…About Me: Which reviews do you read?My Profile

    • Berls

      Thanks Lola! It was a hard decision, but I ended up going with my real name after all. So many factors to think about and I’m still not positive I made the right decision, but it feels right. I guess it won’t matter for a while if I don’t get into this anthology anyway :/
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Berls

      Thanks! Well, goodness knows I’d love to be a world-famous author someday with my books in translation lol but most likely that won’t happen. But it’s still good to know my name doesn’t sound boring, because that’s what I ended up going with afterall. Nothing I came up with sounded good to me AND did everything I felt it needed to do. So figured, might as well go with my real name than make up one that doesn’t work~
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

  3. A Voracious Reader

    I picked out a pen name back in 2005 in the event I would ever publish a story. I’m pretty much anti-social and should I ever make it big I want the anonymity. I picked an abreviation of my real name combined with a middle name of one of my children.

    I’m not a fan of names with a middle initial though. And I agree with everything Jessica said. Especially Googling any name you pick to see what else is out there. In addition, I went down to the courthouse back in 2005 and registered my pen name. Not sure if that’s a forever thing or not, but at least I did it. lol
    A Voracious Reader recently posted…My September 2014 InD’tale Magazine ReviewsMy Profile

    • Berls

      LOL that’s cool! I didn’t know you registered pen names! I ended up going with my real name, sans middle initial. I just couldn’t come up with something that met all my needs (especially considering all of Jessica’s great advice) – and that I liked – so I figured, might as well go with my real name and assume I’ll never be famous and it won’t matter lol
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Berls

      Thanks Julie – I thought that would be fun too 🙂 I ended up going with my real name, only because the only anagram I could come up with that I liked the last name apparently looked like embryo to at least 5 different people. And that was not what I was going for lol
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

  4. Michelle

    Whatever you pick you have to like since you will be writing under that name. Maybe you can pick names that isn’t your real name, I know a few people that do that. Maybe you can pick a favorite character name and a place you like to go for the last name. Or use your name and the name of your favorite characters last name. Something like that 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…Not a Review of The Forbidden Library #MyTBRLMy Profile

  5. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    Those were all good ones! You have to also consider other little factors. Like what your website url would therefore be. Although these days quite a few authors go with something that’s not their name. So I don’t think that’s a pressing issue.

    Also the length of your name, like how it would look on the book spine or even for when you sign it! (Yeah that’s me thinking ahead!)

    I also learned you might need to consider where you’ll be shelved. Like what authors would you be next to with what name you choose. And basically if that’s a good thing or bad thing.

    I had my pen name decided fairly early on, just because I always wanted to use my mom’s maiden name because I was more attached to that than my legal name. But legally changing your name is such a pain in the you know what! So if there’s a family name you have a connection with you can do that too! Like your mother’s maiden name, or using a middle name of another family member you were close to…

    There’s tons of possibilities. You just have to pick what feels right to you!

    My pen name will be Jess O’Brien. (Jess is sorta my nickname, plus it’s nice and short! and O’Brien is my mom’s maiden name and I’ve always liked it better than my own last name)

    So just go with what feels right to you!

    I’ve also googled my legal name and apparently another Jessica Stewart wrote some sort of sex book! Yeah…that was another reason what I thought I needed a pen name! LOL! 😉
    Jessica recently posted…A Poll for You!!My Profile

    • Berls

      Jessica this was all such great advice, thank you so much! All things considered I ended up going with my real name after all – but a lot had to do with your (And others) comments and advice – I felt like every name I could come up with wasn’t doing me any favors and my name works well after all. Fingers crossed it was the right decision. Though, if my short story isn’t accepted, I guess I’ll have time to think about it again LOL
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

  6. Stormi

    I know how you feel, I am trying to write a novel. I have written a short story previously but haven’t published it and I have thought about pen names mainly because I want to write in two different genres and I thought I might use my real name for one and a pen name for my horror/suspense type because they would be far from the It’s hard coming up with something..good luck on getting published at least you are farther on than me! Can’t wait to check it out! 🙂
    Stormi recently posted…Book Review: Shatter by Erin McCarthyMy Profile

    • Berls

      I thought about that two Stormi – I know a lot of authors do like to use different names based on genre. Ultimately, I decided to go with my real name. (I know, after all that!) From the votes people seemed to like it best and at least if it doesn’t work well, it’s my real name and not a name I made up and cursed myself with LOL!
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

  7. Njkinny

    Wow..Congrats Kim..I wish you all the luck and wait to read your books 🙂
    I totally understand your concerns with using your real name,I have an author friend who is a Radiology Professor and to keep her professional and unaffected at work she writes under a pen name. But she told me of her issues with a pen name. Since she does not want her students to associate her with writing romance and thus, affecting that stern respect that she gets, she came up with a pen name but because of this she is very conscious of going to literary events and wants to keep her identity a secret. When I met her she was adamant about not getting her pic clicked and shared. This concern of hiding her true identity restricts her in promoting her books, making public appearances and often creates a gulf between her and the book world.

    So a pen name has its pros and cons. All the best! 🙂
    Njkinny recently posted…Guest Post–> Series vs Standalone & Tips to authors for promotion of their books by Lan LLP + GiveawayMy Profile

    • Berls

      Thanks Nikita! And thanks for telling me all about your friend – as I started considering, things like that gulf between her and the book world (and other factors) ended up making me decide that I want to go with my real name after all. Fingers crossed it was the right decision!
      Berls recently posted…The Wright Brother by Marie Hall | Book ReviewMy Profile

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