Should I Use a Pen Name for my Book?

What you need to ask when considering using a pen name.

by Adam G. Fleming

Samuel Clemens did it. Should you?

Let’s get straight to the point. If you’re even asking this question, there’s a good chance the answer is “yes.” If you:

  • Just think it would be cooler than your actual name
  • Want to protect people whose stories could be exposed
  • Have another public image/persona to protect, or want to screen it from certain parties
  • Write in other genres already and want to create a different brand
  • Are shy
  • Have a name that’s difficult to spell (Katiyahna Krawczyk)
  • Have a name that is way too common (Joe Smith), or shared with a famous (or infamous) person 
  • Are writing something that might offend your close friends or family members (theology that goes against their religion, or something depicting graphic and/or unsavory behaviors)
  • Have a name that just doesn’t sound like someone who writes that genre. For instance, nobody expects someone with the name Bobby L. Fink to write romance, but maybe Roberta La Finch will work.

That’s a list of good reasons, but I doubt it’s comprehensive. 

Here’s the key: the point of a pen name is to be considerate. You can be considerate of family members or people who appear in the story. You can be considerate of your readers and fans. You can be considerate of your own feelings or even considerate of Amazon and Google search engines. 

More questions you may have: 

  • How do I keep my two identities separate? 

Check out the Alliance of Independent Authors blog, The Ultimate Guide to Author Pen Names. It includes tips from real authors sharing about how they manage multiple names. 

  • What are the legal issues around using a pen name? 

We found a helpful list of things to consider in this blog by Mindy McHorse, Legal Issues to Consider When Using a Pen Name.


There are lots of good reasons to use your own name, too. I chose to use my middle initial on all my books (Adam G. Fleming) because my name is just common enough you’ll find a few other people out there who are maybe a bit more renowned than I am. And that’s a sort of pen name, too, because I don’t walk around town telling people my name is “Adam G.” 

Still not sure? Get in touch for a complementary chat and we’ll help you think it through.

Adam G. Fleming, PCC, is an ICF certified coach and trainer. He has trained people in coaching skills around the world and has also led other seminars as speaker and facilitator. Using both traditional and DIY methods, Adam has published 13 books in a variety of genres, and serves as the CEO and lead ghostwriter for Victory Vision Publishing, Inc. He lives in Goshen, Indiana, with his wife Megan and their four children. Contact:

Interested in getting to the next step? Click here for a free discovery meeting with Adam.

Follow us

Stay up to date with us on social media for our latest publications and our best writing tips.