Thanks to World Literary Cafe’s “share the love” program, I’m getting to know a lot of authors on Facebook. Some are newly published, some have multiple books under their belts. I’d say 99.5% of them are interesting as people, as writers, as craftspeople.
I’ve noticed something, though. Most of my friends who are authors and a great many of the new writers I’m getting to know use pen names. In the past couple of months, I’ve seen more AKAs than a typesetter in the wanted poster printing office.
Now, I’m not good with names under the best conditions, and that’s when the people I want to remember only use one name. Trying to remember real names as well as pen names makes me dizzy.
One or two authors I know had to switch to pen names after a bad experience with a traditional publishing house. Some use a different pen name for each of the different series novels they produce, while two that I know of use one pen name for books in one genre, like mystery, and another pen name for books they write in a different genre, like romance. I envy them their prolificity (is that a word?), but I think I’ve asked one of my friends at least a dozen times what their pen name is. That feels disrespectful to me, but it’s an honest-to-God flaw in my brain. No offense meant, my friends.
Using a nom de plume may be a safety consideration for some writers. Who needs stalkers and cyberbullies making life harder? Sadly, modern society, both real and online, can not be counted on to be civil or well-behaved.
There’s nothing wrong with pen names. Authors have used them for centuries. I may use one, myself, when I get around to publishing Dying to Meet You, which is a mystery and nothing like Memory’s Child.
If I adopt a pen name or two, I just hope I can still remember my real name.