Tips for Nom de Plume

nomdeplumeSome authors choose a different name other than their own to publish books. Stephen King is also Richard Bachman. Ben Franklin originally wrote articles under the name Silence Dogood, but also Richard Saunders. Charles Dickens wrote under the single name of Boz.

Why bother with a writer’s pen name?

One reason is to change genres. Your reputation as a horror writer can be shadowed by a new name for writing something like fantasy or thriller.

Explore writing from a personae. Ben Franklin wrote under his many pen names with different styles as well as opinions. Silence Dogood wrote from the point of view of a widowed, when at the time, Ben Franklin was a teenage boy.

Your given name might not be easy to remember, spell, or doesn’t sit well with your novel. My last name is Poffinberger- lengthy, difficult to spell correctly (given that we have a Poffenberger road in our local area), and it just doesn’t roll of the tongue. If I select another name, something memorable or one that sparks curiosity in a reader, a pen name offers marketing for an author. The name itself becomes a marketing ‘brand’.

How to find your Nom de Plume? Here are some tips;

Family names. Go through your family history to find names. You can pick and choose the first and last at random, or honor ancestors in a subtle way.

History, local or world. From places to people, you can find tons of ideas by going through history. You can change letters around (as people in the past often misspelled names due to illiteracy).

Change letters or pronouncement of your current name. Stephan Colbert of the Colbert Report(pronounced col-bert, changed it to the French version to col-bare). 

Change the culture spelling or adding something to the name. The last name of Henry can become O’Henry, (which was the nom de plume of William Sydney Porter). You can add or drop syllables, such as McClaren becomes Claren. My maiden name of Ward originally was ‘werd’ meaning marsh.

What are your thoughts or experiences? Will you use your own name, pen name, or consider future incarnations of writer names for other books? Post in comments.

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