What should my pen name be – do I need one?

What should my pen name be – do I need one?

There are many questions you are probably asking yourself as a writer. Should I write an autobiography?pen name What if I started a series? Should my books be Kindle books? How can I reach other audiences? These questions will drive you crazy if you let them. Let’s talk about some of these questions, starting with one that I had for the first year or so.

Do I need a pen name?

I have always thought that pen names were so cool… like having a secret identity! I have read a lot of books in my time, and I never could figure out why anyone would use a pen name. But one day I decided to write another autobiography. My first autobiography was about my Navy life, and told nothing about my family or my children through the years. But now I wanted to write a book about my personal life over the course of my career. This book would tell more about the spiritual parts of my life, and all the “between the lines” stories. When I started writing the book, I suddenly became aware that there were so many people in this book who would recognize themselves if they ever read the book. What would happen then? Could I be sued? Was what I was doing legal? Then it dawned on me… this is why there are pen names. So, I changed the names of everyone in my new book, and wrote it under my pen name, Lucas Fisher. Oh, just a word of warning… before picking out a pen name, it would be wise to do a Google search and make sure someone else isn’t using the name you choose.

Should my book be a Kindle book?

Kindle ReaderOne of the most shocking things that happened to me when I first published online was when I saw my book being offed for free downloads! This is one of the dangers you may face when publishing your book electronically. At first, I was upset because I had worked so hard on my book, and now it was being given away for free. Since it was offered on a Google listing, I wrote to Google and reported it. Within a week Google took the posting down, which was pretty cool. But a few days later, it popped up again under a different URL. After a while I stopped worrying about it because there was nothing I could do about it anyway. Besides, the few people that do download it for free probably wouldn’t have paid for it anyway.

Kindle is a wonderful and convenient way for people to take books with them wherever they go. If you are flying across the Atlantic, no worries! You have a Kindle that can download books anywhere, so no more carrying five books in your backpack of purse. You may be thinking that you are losing money every time you sell a Kindle book, since they sell for so little. Think of it this way… your book can be offered to everyone who has a Kindle, anywhere in the world! That’s a lot of travelers, hikers and other people who you wouldn’t have been able to sell you book too.

Should I write a book series?

It seems like today everyone wants to write a book series. You can always find a nice heartland book series, or even a good vampire book series if your into that kind of thing. But what does it take to write a good series of books? Well, I tried to write a series of books, but I never got it off the ground. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do it, of course!


The first thing you would need to do is define the audience you are targeting. Will it be a gardening series? Maybe a kid’s mystery series? Once you define your audience, you will need to create a likable main character. So, now that you know who you will be targeting, and have a terrific main character, you are well on your way. Now you have to create a story… a good story that your target audience will enjoy. Then you have to do it again… and again… and again… I am not at all trying to discourage you, just prepare you for what’s ahead. Be careful… there is a lot of competition out there!

A couple of good writing tips…

So far I have given you my insight on writing, and I hope you have found them useful. No mater what I say or what anyone else says, just do it. Find a quiet spot with just you and your computer, and start writing. If your have kid’s at home, you can find some writing games kid’s can play on many writing websites. This way they are happy and you have a few moments to collect your thoughts. Hey, if I could girl computerdo it with three boys at home, so can you! Oh, and some soft jazz music can do wonders for your stress level.

So, to sum it all up…

Writing, in my opinion, is a wonderful, relaxing pass time. Once you start, you will find it hard to stop. The beauty of writing for yourself is that there are no deadlines.  Now and then you might hit a snag, or get what people call “writers block.” One of my favorite things to do when that happens is to start working on my cover. If you have been paying attention to the covers of my book in other articles, you can see that I have a different style that most people. But you know what? They are my books, and I like them. I like the covers, and everything between them! So when its time for you to create your cover, have fun doing it. The world is the limit! And if you find yourself getting all stressed out because you don’t have time to write, then put it down for a while… but not too long! Remember… writing should be enjoyable. I’ll see you in the pages…




22 thoughts on “What should my pen name be – do I need one?

  1. I am in the process of writing a book now clay.
    I am about 25,000 words in. It is more of an exercise in therapy for me than anything else. I also want to pass on a legacy to my kids that I don’t get to see.
    it is a very therapeutic thing for me but some of the ideas that come out probably aren’t fit for the public to read so self censorship is important too.
    I haven’t have to deal with writers block yet. I think that is because i spend a lot of time reading and I do that out in an isolated part of the forest or waterfront. works for me. and meditation.
    I still stick to the really old school method of three drafts. 1st draft is the outline, 2nd draft puts the meat onto the skeleton. then final draft is a re-write to polish it up.

    1. Hi Remy; It sounds to me like you have the right idea when it comes to writing. I never really got writers block either, and I think that’s do to being mentally organized. Your kids (and their kids) will read your books and learn things about you that they never would have otherwise. Thank you for sharing! Good luck on your book…


  2. Hello Clay, thanks for sharing this blog with us. I have been thinking about writing a book about my life for a while now. I will write my very own book if I ever get the chance to. Thanks again, and continue to do what you do!!!

  3. I personally have a few pen names. I find them useful for different genres. You don’t want YA readers accidentally coming across your erotica titles, for example. And sometimes, a different gender is best for the niche you plan to write in. Romance, for example, is usuallly written by women, even if they are really men using female pen names. Lots of reasons to use them!

    1. You brought up a few great points, Genesis.  I know there are websites with seven different writers, and every one of them are the same person.  People don’t want plumbing advice from a women, even though there are a couple who would put the men to shame!  Thanks for your input and your visit… Have a great day!


  4. I’m a bit like you; I was always confused as to why on earth someone would want to hide their identity, especially when the book was so great. 

    However, pen names definitely do add a great level of security and anonymity that could be the deciding factor on whether or not someone decides to publish their book, so it’s definitely a big deal. Do you think your should try and make your pen name realistic or not?

    1. Hi Danny… I wanted my pen name to be real, but cool at the same time.  I have loved the name Lucas ever since I saw the Rifleman for the first time.  Then I started google searches and went until I found one that didn’t show up, and Lucas Fisher was born!  I think it should be real, but fun.  Its like traveling incognito… I appreciate the visit, Danny.  Have a great day!


  5. Hi Clay!

    I can’t say I ran into the problem of disclosing information that might be sensitive in my books as a reason to use a pen name, but I have considered using one before.  In my case, I’ve written and published several nonfiction books in the religion niche. I thought about writing books in other niches that the first books I wrote may not directly be relevant to, so in effort not to confuse anyone, I thought about publishing under a pen name. I thought about a pen name for my fiction versus nonfiction and so on, however, my issue is in building a company.  When you have more than one pen name, it’s almost like having more than one company: both need marketing, distribution, and a reputation.  You almost have to have separate marketing plans for separate niches (like in my case Christian nonfiction and Christian fiction).  How did you overcome the marketing issue?  What tips would you give for building a reputation under more than one pen name?

    1. Hello, Tiffany… You know, I have never thought about the marketing aspect of a pen name.  I only needed mine for one book, and that was a spiritual autobiography.  Since it was for my spiritual journey, it was a lot more personal and down to earth.  I think if I was to write more books under my pen name, Lucas Fisher, I would have a company name for marketing purposes, then two writers under that name, myself and my pen name.  I am sure you would know better than I if it would work.  

      Thanks for the visit, and I wish you the best in all of your writing!


  6. I am a writer by trade and at heart, and I have considered using a pen name because I simply don’t think my name looks good on covers or will catch people’s attention. If I ever finish my first novel, I will have to make a final decision on this, but so far, I keep going back and forth and back and forth. My pride wants to use my own name and make sure everyone knows that I created it, but on the other hand, I think a different name might help it sell better. Maybe that’s just a confidence issue, I don’t know.

    I love that you said people who download your book for free probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway! This is SO SO true! I know a few writers who are chasing print publication because they’re afraid others will rip off their work if they go the Kindle route. I used to think about that as well after some of my shorter pieces were ripped off at Hubpages in the same fashion. Today, I am just like you. If they go searching for free copies, they aren’t going to pay for anything! It’s just one of the costs of the digital world. Now, all the craziness with reviews being deleted and a writer trying to trademark simple words…there are so many other things to worry about as a Kindle author!

    1. Theresa, you know, I really didn’t like my name either, but I wanted my boys and their kids to see my name on the cover.  Then they would know it is possible, and they too can write a book one day.  The first thing I before I upload anything is to have it copywrited by the Library of Congress.  It costs $35 and is covered as soon as you complete the online process.  I appreciate you stopping by, and I wish you the best on your writing ventures.  


  7. There is so much useful information I found here. I never thought about using a pen name before. It seems like a cool idea for sure. You can choose a name that you like to be known not what you were named by your family. I love reading books on Kindle especially while traveling or on the bed. I would definitely give it a shot. 

    1. Sanjay, Picking out a pen name was a lot of fun, too.  I even gave my pen name an identity, and a facebook page!  I am probably having more fun with it than I should have.  Thanks for checking out my page, and have a great evening!


  8. Hi Clay. I have been thinking about writing a book for a while now, or maybe a series of books. You mentioned gardening, that’s the field I have been in for most of my life. I have a gardening website and in it I have written many different gardening articles on a vast variety of topics. I had been thinking of enhancing those blogs and putting them into a series of books for beginner gardeners. I only recently found out about a great inexpensive way to publish your books with a business called ‘Create Space’. But I still needed help on how to go about approaching the actual writing side of the business. Now that I have found your sire I believe I can gain knowledge from all your blogs. Thank you for this wonderful article.  Jim

    1. Jim, I am happy to hear about your successful website.  Gardening is such a great niche, I wish I know more about it myself (although I do have a knack for killing almost any kind of plant).  I have no doubt that a series of books will be coming from you before too long.  I appreciate you stopping in, and wish you the best!


  9. It is exciting when thinking of writing a book. I definitely agree that it is a rewarding and therapeutic experience for me whenever I write, no matter what I am writing. Some things might start off slow but once you get in the zone it just seems to flow.

    The finished piece is always worth the effort in my opinion. Thank you for sharing the importance of a pen name and your experience with your e-book. Your post has allowed me to see the benefits of a pen name and to understand when posting a book online to not worry too much about the free copies people will give away.

    Jay S.

    Tower Bridge Consultants LLC

    1. Thanks, Jay!  There is an awesome feeling that comes from writing and publishing your own book.  I appreciate you stopping by. 

  10. Hi,

    I’ve never written a book in my life, but in the last two years, it became a small dream that I want to fulfill.I had traveled by own around the world for a long time, I told my family and friends tons of stories about my journey and therefore I got the idea to write my own book.

    All of my stories are involved with different people, and as you said, it may be a problem when people will recognize themselves when using real names. So thank you for the tip of using a pen name, it may be the solution to this problem.


  11. I actually do write! Mostly non-fiction for the past few years, but lately, I’ve been making an effort to add to my fiction books and create a couple of series. It’s pretty rewarding to realize you have actually finished a whole book.

    In addition to my own projects, I do some ghostwriting for others, though I stick to non-fiction for those. It’s a good way to get paid to write while you’re waiting for your own stuff to take off.

    1. Genesis, I haven’t tried ghost writing, and I have done a few smaller projects.  I agree, the satisfaction of seeing your book in print is awesome.  My son took my first book to show and tell (second grade) and you would have thought I was Dwaine Johnson!  I appreciate you dropping by…


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