Today’s ‘Ask Inkitt’ Question: I’m getting ready to create an Inkitt profile. Should I use a pen name?
That’s a great question, and my answer is a solid… maybe. There are a couple of things to think about when you consider whether or not to use a pen name.
First, ask yourself why you want to use a pen name. Is it to maintain your privacy? Maybe you write erotica, and also teach middle school. It might be prudent to keep your author identity under wraps. If you feel that using your real name will be harmful to your personal or professional life in some way, then by all means, use a pen name.
A New Target Audience
Maybe you’ve written extensively in one genre, built a successful reader base and author platform, but now you’d like to try your hand at something else. If the genres are close enough, your readers will likely follow you and be interested in your next project. For example, my first series of books were science fiction, and my latest is an urban fantasy. I’ve also written some horror and high fantasy short fiction. They all fall under the umbrella of speculative fiction, so I’ve published everything under my name. Not all my readers are interested in every sub-genre, but they aren’t so different that I feel I’m targeting a different audience.
If you write paranormal romance, and now want to write contemporary romance, you may lose a few readers along the way, but chances are most will follow you into a new sub-genre or series.
Having said that, in addition to writing speculative fiction, I also write romantic suspense, and I do write these stories under a pen name. In this case, there is very little overlap to my speculative fiction fans, and the marketing and promotional work I have to do targets a completely different set of readers. Of course, this means I have to maintain two separate author platforms, which requires a good bit of work.
Platform and Brand
In the current publishing environment, most writers are expected to build an author brand and support a platform. This is something to consider when you choose what name you’ll publish under. If you already have a personal social media presence or an expertise in a particular field related to what you write (for example, you’re a rocket scientist and write science fiction), it will likely benefit you to use your real name and expand your brand from there. On the other hand, if you want to interact with fans using a totally different persona, a pen name might be a good idea. Here’s some more reading material on how to successfully build an author brand and platform.
There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of using a pen name. It’s a personal choice and can be a marketing strategy, just be sure to think it through and understand what your choice entails. Thanks for the great question!