In creating a domain name for myself, I thought about whether or not to use the title of my book, “Annie’s Special Day”, or whether to use something else like my author name. I went with Clarbojahn, the same name as my blog. Then I started reading “Are You There Blog, It’s me Writer” by Kristen Lamb.
The following article is a paraphrased chapter from that book.
“Are You There Blog, It’s me Writer” talks mostly about blogging but this article can be extrapolated to the static website and all marketing.
In the old days there was only one way for an author to build a platform; of a love for their book. Now it’s the author’s platform that sells the book.
Social Media has changed everything. Now we control our book and our platform. But why balance multiple personalities when you don’t need to? Why make marketing an even BIGGER chore?
Kristen Lamb says the traditional reasons to have a pen name are mostly no longer valid.
We all know this is an illusion, there is no privacy. Even if we want to build an entirely new identity for marketing purposes we can’t hide. A pen name is only like the screen door that keeps people from barging into the living room. If someone really wanted to find you, they could. Search Engines are getting faster and better and more people are contributing content. A pen name is the extra layer that keeps out most people but not the highly motivated.
People at work will find out:
Like I said privacy is an illusion. The good thing is most co-workers aren’t googling their colleagues’ names.
My name is difficult:
Since we don’t have to be able to pronounce a last name to recognize a difficult name it may actually help you stand apart from all the other writers. All someone needs to remember are three letters of your name and Google delivers up the rest.
My name is boring:
It’s the books title that sells it not the author’s name. There are many authors with boring names, take Stephen King, or Dan Brown. If we don’t write glamorous books our name doesn’t matter.
I write more than one genre:
Historically publishing houses made authors use different names for each genre. This was to keep readers from being confused.
Now authors control their platform. If you must have a pen name it is good to build it under the umbrella of your NAME. If you build your platform using your own name and your agent wants a pen name, what do you do? Just mention it in your blog and tweets. Just say your new novel will be out under this and that pen name. You don’t have to build a whole new platform with an entirely new identity.
I am afraid of failure:
Kristen says “Join the club. Some of you want to wait until the writing is successful to let friends and family know about the other half of your life. But it is coming at the cost of you spreading yourself too thinly to be effective.”
When we use the name that all our friends, family, co-workers and people who knew us in school remember, we get an added advantage of activating our intimate networks. Never underestimate the power of those close connections.
So am I against using a pen name? From reading “Are You There Blog? It’s me Writer” by Kristen Lamb, I got reinforcement for using my own name. But it’s a conglomeration of it. As you can see from the story on my about page Clarbojahn is three names combined into one. I’m one of those who when you Google my name the search engines will be helpful and ask “Do you mean Clarike Bowman-Jahn?” And I’ve seen all my names pop up in one way or another. I can’t hide from Google.
Do you use a pen name? Why or Why not? How has this article been helpful in deciding whether to use a pen name or not?