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Should I have a pen name?


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#1 AMK

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 10:55 AM

Hello all,

I'm preparing to query and I worry about my difficult last name, Klapheke. When I met my husband, I thought his name was crazy. Well, now it's mine. While I'm proud of him and his German heritage, I worry that I should adopt a pen name. No one pronounces Klapheke (cluh-peek) correctly and many wrinkle their noses when they read my name on my license.

Be honest. I have very thick skin. What do you think?

Thanks!

#2 Peter Burton

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 12:28 PM

It's really a personal choice, AMK.

In the end, no one is going to care about what your name is. As long as the stories are good, your readers will remember it. (Even if they do pronounce it wrong. :wink: )

"But that's OK. There's treasure children always seek to find.

And just like us, you must have had, a Once Upon A Time."

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#3 JB Delatta

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 01:34 PM

I worry about the same thing, but in a slightly different capacity; I am a fantasy writer and, as such, sometimes I have characters that have unusual names. I used to worry that readers would "pronounce" their names wrong. Then it dawned on me how silly that was. When people run into a name they've never encountered before, they just come up with a pronunciation that they're comfortable with and move on. Look at it this way-- if you sell your book and become famous, you'll have plenty of opportunities to tell people how it's pronounced!

#4 Jemi

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 03:03 PM

It is a tough decision. I think it's a very cool last name - unique and intriguing. To me, pronunciation isn't a big deal - but having people not be able to remember how to spell it might be. You want something unique, but easy to remember too - you want them to be able to google you easily :smile:

You don't have to decide yet anyway. Once you have that agent, he/she can help you make the decision.

#5 Cammy May

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    I would prefer to be sole proprietor of a series of novels.

    They can reject me, blacklist me, ignore me... but they can't take Tara away from me.

Posted 19 May 2012 - 03:27 PM

The guy who wrote the big hit, being filmed, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is named Seth Grahame-Smith. The author of "Fight Club" is named Pahluiak or some such scrabble mess. Carl Hiaasen did okay. No actual reason to change it.
On the other hand, there's no real reason not to if you want to.
So far everything has turned about as I expected.

#6 Robin Breyer

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 03:42 PM

You need to decide for yourself. There are many options. Some people, such as myself, choose name that are widely different from our legal names. Others just respell it or change it. C.J. Cherryh just added an silent H to the end. Anne McCaffrey used her maiden name.

One thing to think about is if you are going to make a change, do you want to keep your phonetic name? or just change it. I could have respelled my name to make it easier to remember, but I like my name as it is so rather than do that, I changed it completely. In your case, you could change it to Klewpeak or Cluepeke, or something like that. I've seen all sorts of arrangements of names from parents, to middle, to changing the order, to just using your initials, to a complete change. The only thing I have done is to make sure that in some way each of them can be shortened to Robin.

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#7 Anya Harker

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 06:09 PM

It's totally a personal choice. I went with a name very different from my own, mostly because even my OWN friends have trouble with it. They can be looking at it on Facebook and STILL misspell it. I mean really. Moe. How hard is that to spell? It's just that most girls go by "Mo" and so that's what everyone tries to call me.

As a result, I went with Anya.

I also was planning on having a career in publishing and I wanted a one-step removal between my real me as a Literary Scouting Assistant and me as the writer.

So I say go with what feels the most comfortable with you and what sits best with you as well. :^)
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#8 AMK

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 09:51 PM

Thanks, all. I guess I'll stick with my own for now and change it if I feel the need later on. Side note: I wasn't worried about people mispronouncing it--don't care--I was worried about remembering it well enough to search for it or repeat it as needed. You all have given me some good stuff to think about. Thanks again.

#9 arajasek

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 12:17 PM

My full name is Aayush Subramaniam Rajasekaran.

You're fine :tongue:

#10 Aaron Bradford Starr

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 09:22 PM

My full name is Aayush Subramaniam Rajasekaran.


Wow. That might be the single coolest name I've ever heard.

If you're going to use a pen name, can I use your real name as my pen name? :cool:

#11 Cammy May

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    I would prefer to be sole proprietor of a series of novels.

    They can reject me, blacklist me, ignore me... but they can't take Tara away from me.

Posted 26 May 2012 - 11:44 PM

If you absolutely must use a pen name, I'd suggest a normal one like Parker. Bic sounds too slangy and Montblanc is too stuffy.
So far everything has turned about as I expected.

#12 E.B. Black

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 02:51 PM

My real last name is hard to pronounce as well, so I went with the pen name E.B. Black. I decided to do this because it's easy to remember and I've actually gone to bookstores, looking for a certain author and forgetting their name or being unable to find it because it's spelled strangely. It's up to you and won't make or break you as an author, but I personally decided for the exact same reason to go with a pen name. (I'm also a private person who likes to keep their business life separate from their personal.)

E and B are my real first and last initials. Black because I write dark literature and because this person in a writer's group I was in told me that even though I dress in pink and act quite girly, I have the spirit (she thought) of a goth. That whenever she glanced at me out of the corner of her eye she swore I was in all black with skull earrings and a cross necklace.

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#13 Litgal

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:02 PM

My real last name is hard to pronounce as well, so I went with the pen name E.B. Black. I decided to do this because it's easy to remember and I've actually gone to bookstores, looking for a certain author and forgetting their name or being unable to find it because it's spelled strangely. It's up to you and won't make or break you as an author, but I personally decided for the exact same reason to go with a pen name. (I'm also a private person who likes to keep their business life separate from their personal.)

E and B are my real first and last initials. Black because I write dark literature and because this person in a writer's group I was in told me that even though I dress in pink and act quite girly, I have the spirit (she thought) of a goth. That whenever she glanced at me out of the corner of her eye she swore I was in all black with skull earrings and a cross necklace.


But you never know what people are going to think when they see a name. I saw yours and thought it was a play on E.B. White.
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#14 mwsinclair

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:58 PM

I saw yours and thought it was a play on E.B. White.


Same here.

#15 E.B. Black

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 05:29 PM

Well, that doesn't really bother me. I'd only be upset if my pen name resembled the name of a porn star or something. I thought about it a long time and tried to find any association with it that could be offensive to my image as an author and found none after thinking a long time about it.

I just wanted one that meant something to me, even if no one got why and that it would be easy to remember.

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#16 Joey

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 07:29 AM

I don't have a pen name, but irl most people know me by my first name which is Joey, and also by my maiden name (something else) then hyphen and last name (married name). Thus, I decided to choose my first name and married last name (Francisco) as the name I'd write under. My married last name is easier to pronounce than my maiden name btw.

It's kind of funny, but when my girlfriends knew I was writing, they said Joey Francisco sounded like a minor character who gets knocked off early in one of the old episodes from "The Sopranos".

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#17 A M Pierre

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 10:42 AM

Personally, I think you have a really cool last name (I've always envied those with interesting/different last names), but I understand the conflict.

It almost feels like naming a child in a way.

What if people can't spell it?
What if they pronounce it wrong?
What if I figure out too late that it rhymes with an embarrassing scatalogical function?

I can't tell you how many different combinations I've tried and discarded (because I tend to obsess insanely over minutiae like that).

Too complicated.
Too plain.
Too weird.
Too much like Author A, B, or C.

It takes a while to get the Goldilocks name (the one that's just right). Frankly, I'm still not there.

#18 Alyssa Cormier

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 09:20 AM

I thought about a pen name for a long time but in the end I decided that I would really like to see my own name on a cover a book. ^_^ But I think I'll probably be using my intials and then my last time.
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#19 C. Taylor

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 11:14 AM

I have a list I use when picking a pen name, and personally, do like using one (or more than one, at that). My real name wasn't an option, since I share it with a porn star. The chances of finding ME rather than her would be slim to none. So no porn star names. lol. I also wanted easy to remember, spell, say, had LOW hits when googled in quotes, and had an available domain.

I'm getting ready to pick another one for the contemporary stuff I'm now writing since the writing styles and genre are different. I wouldn't want someone reading my contemp. funny/snarky light romance and then picking up one of my steampunk books, which tend towards the very dark. I don't think they'd be happy with me. lol.

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#20 Alyssa Cormier

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 11:23 AM

I have a list I use when picking a pen name, and personally, do like using one (or more than one, at that). My real name wasn't an option, since I share it with a porn star. The chances of finding ME rather than her would be slim to none. So no porn star names. lol. I also wanted easy to remember, spell, say, had LOW hits when googled in quotes, and had an available domain.

I'm getting ready to pick another one for the contemporary stuff I'm now writing since the writing styles and genre are different. I wouldn't want someone reading my contemp. funny/snarky light romance and then picking up one of my steampunk books, which tend towards the very dark. I don't think they'd be happy with me. lol.


Ohgee. XD Well yes in that case I could certainly see using a pen name and I think I would consider using a pen name if I were to switch to a new genre or wrote Erotica or something. XD
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