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Posts Tagged ‘pen names’

Once upon a time when the world was young and the internet only a gleam in some computer geek’s (or was that Al Gore’s?) eye, writing under a pen name was as simple as, well, writing under a pen name. Not that I know anything about what it was actually like, of course, but it seems simple: write the book, have it published with a pseudonym on the cover, and thence be known by that name as a writer at signings, writing events, etc.

But in our current world, writers are expected to have a web presence. This is where the whole question of a pen name becomes more complicated for me. I don’t suppose I’m alone. So I thought I’d post about it here and see if any of you out there have thoughts or suggestions on the topic.

I intend to publish (she said, attempting to use the power of positive thinking) under another name. I know the name, I’ve checked to make sure it’s not too close to anyone else in my genre, I’ve bought the domain name, and I’ve set up the email and the Twitter account, all ready to go.

But I’m not published yet. The agent hunt has been very positive so far, but is still in progress. Admittedly, I feel ridiculous introducing a pen name before I know for sure whether I’ll ever see that name on a book cover. That’s part of the problem for me in figuring this out. But more, I already have a public web presence for my day job, a job that involves interacting with the very same community I’d interact with as a published writer, and the same one I already interact with under my own name as an aspiring writer.

So this all feels very complicated. Most of what I’d post as my writer self I already post as my work self or my social self. There’s a lot of overlap. And I don’t want to change the name I use for work to my pen name.

Most of the people I know who’ve introduced a pen name have simply used it as their only online presence apart from personal email, either because writing is their only job or the only one for which they need to be visible online or because they were using the pen name long before a web presence became a necessity, so I don’t have an example – at least not one I’m aware of – to emulate in introducing a second version of a web presence while still needing to maintain the first. The very thought makes me want to run screaming into the night.

I’m not concerned about privacy, so much; I have other personal reasons for using a pen name for my writing. So I don’t mind if my worlds overlap. But how?

This has been a point of discussion at our house for awhile now, and we don’t seem to have any satisfactory answers, so please feel free to throw out any ideas you think are useful. I’d appreciate it.

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