My Foolproof Formula For Picking a Pen Name

Some people seem to have a really tough time with coming up with a pen name. Let me tell you, this is the easiest part of publishing your novel. Here’s how I came up with mine.

First off, are you adopting a pen name to separate two genres or to separate your author self from your real self? In other words, do you care if people can easily trace the name back to you? If so, skip the first bullet.

  • Use part of your name. First name, middle name, last name, it doesn’t matter. My middle name is Charlotte, so I decided to use that for the first name of my pen name. If you’re adopting a pen name because your last name has sixteen syllables, cut it down. Zaccagnini can be Zini, Faunabane can be Bane, you get it. Conversely, if you want a pen name because your last name is too common, try adding to it. Hall can be Aletthall, Jones can be Jopson, whatever.
  • You need to make sure your names work together. Zachariah Zini sounds good out loud, but Zachariah Jopson sounds terrible as an author name. Wayne Bane is way too rhyming, and Hillary Jopson doesn’t work together at all. Just browse the phone book until you find a name that you like. There are also sites out there who match last names with first names randomly based on how they match up together.
  • However, your name needs to match your genre. Lennard Sporkle isn’t going to go very far in the romance market, but he’d do great in comedy. Charlotte Cyprus is perfect for romance, but that name wouldn’t work for a crime thriller. It’s mostly common sense for this one, and lots of names will be fine in all genres, but sometimes a little matching is needed.
  • Next, once you have a nice name, Google it. At first, I was going to go with the name Charlotte Bellamy, but that turned out to be an actress or something. I decided to go with Charlotte Cyprus. The only Google result for that is Charlotte, Queen of Cyprus, which is pretty distinguishable from a living author.
  • Finally, put your name everywhere. Make a Facebook for your pen name, put it all over your blog, make an Amazon author page and a Goodreads page. Make sure that when people Google that name, it’s your they’re finding. Make sure you’re getting yourself out there!

If all else fails, pick your great-grandmother’s name and try not to feel guilty when writing your next sex scene.