Nom de Plume
June: Real name vs pen name: is one better than the other? Why or why not? Which would you use and why?
It has certainly been quite some time since I updated here and I don’t have excuses or explanations for you about it. It happened and it deserved being addressed… But that’s all I have to say about it. Especially since this post is meant to be about pen names!
You might be able to tell by my website / social media handles, but I am a person who does not
use a pen name. As long as I’ve been writing and publishing things on the internet, I have always gone by some iteration of (at least) my first name. As I started taking a more “professional” route with my writing — or at least attempting to — I began switching over fully to my “author persona:” Erin Foster Books. Could I have transitioned into a pen name at that point? Probably, but I didn’t see the point. In fact, if I had made that choice, it might have actually had negative affects on my yet-developing platform.
Back in college, I had to complete a short story project for one of my creative writing courses and the outcome was a fully-edited, ready-to-publish (essentially) short story collection. And since this was back in the day of free proof copies for NaNoWriMo winners, I decided to go ahead and publish it. Why not, right? And I did so using my real name. Then I entered a Harlequin contest and did decently well (top 12 — so not placed or anything, but still a huge success in my mind), using my real name. All of the self-published short stories in the AugNoWriMo Compendium Milestone: under my real name. I was already starting to establish my name as my author brand, even before ever thinking about it. To then start over with a pen name? Not something that really appealed to me, personally.
Now, if I were to decide to write… say a fantasy quartet about elemental mermaids instead of my normal romance realistic fiction, would I consider a pen name? Absolutely. Because if someone had read a handful of my other fiction and picked up a fantasy book, thinking it would be in a similar feel / genre because I wrote it… They would be very confused. And the last thing I want to do to my readers is confuse them.
As for which one is better? Well, neither. I don’t think you can make a sweeping generalization like that with something that’s such a personal decision. For me, my real name worked out and was the right choice for my situation, but that might not always be the case for someone — or even for me. I think that as long as the person behind the name is intentional and consistent with their use of whatever moniker they choose, then that is the “better” decision.
(Stay tuned. I am promising a minimum of one blog post per week for the rest of the year. Always Wednesday mornings at 10am EST. There might be more than that, but there will definitely never be less. If there’s something you’d like me to talk about / address, feel free to leave a comment here or reach out to me on twitter at @erinfosterbooks