Using Pen Name/Pseudonym for Amazon Self-publishing
Once your book is finished, you have two choices as a self-published writer when it comes to choosing a name. You can either use your real name or use a pen name or pseudonym for your book. Many writers have been using the ‘pen names’ for decades. Earlier, with traditional publishers, the number of such writers was more. Even though the number of writers using pen names has reduced, there are many still using it.
If you are self-publishing your book on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you have both options with you.
In this article, we will understand what you mean by pen names and why writers use them. Once you have clarity on these topics, you can decide whether you want to use your real name or pseudonym for the book.
What is a Pen Name/Pseudonym?
In simple language, a pen name is false name authors (writers) use to publish their book. If, for any reason, an author wants to hide his real identity and keep it a secret, he can use a pseudonym.
On Amazon, when you try to publish your book, you are asked to pick an author name in your publishing account. Your Amazon pen name can either be your real name or a pseudonym. An Amazon author may change this name later if they want to or feel the need. The pseudonym you have given will be shown on your public profile page. Also, on any review customers give on Amazon. It will come upon seller feedback and customer discussion posts.
Why Use a Pen Name while Self-publishing on Amazon?
For a new author, who does not know the complete book publishing journey, the concept of self-publishing using pen names may sound strange. However, there are many reasons why you may want to use a false name while self-publishing on Amazon or otherwise. Below are the top reasons for the same –
Avoid getting into controversy
Many authors writing and publishing books on controversial topics like religion or politics. In such instances, how readers would react to the author’s views cannot be anticipated. If the readers don’t like the content of your book, they may send hate emails and, in some extreme cases, life threats. If there is even a percent chance that your book can harm the sentiments of a specific section of society, it is always better to use a new identity/name; in that way, you can protect your writing career.
Real name not being apt
If your real name is too complicated or challenging to remember, your readers may not talk about you as they don’t know the name. In some cases, your name can be the same as some existing author or similar to some other writers. In all such cases, you may want to use pen names for your book.
For personal or professional reasons
When you write a book, you automatically endorse a viewpoint discussed in the book. For example, you wrote fiction on karma. The content you have written around karma is taken as your viewpoint. In many cases, writers are not ready to endorse a specific view, impacting their personal lives.
In some cases, your business or professional commitments are such that you cannot publish a book or share a viewpoint. For instance, you are a marketing manager, and there is a marketing tool or certain marketing practices you are against. You don’t want organizations to follow a particular marketing tool. However, you cannot do it as you are a part of an organization that practices it. In all such cases, authors prefer to have a pseudonym.
You are trying to figure out your potential
If you are a first-time author trying to self-publish children’s books or short stories, you will never be sure how good your work is before it gets published. Once you self-publish your book on Amazon, you will receive a lot of negative feedback and criticism (even if your book is good).
You don’t want to receive too much criticism for your first book in a new genre as it may negatively impact your next book or new material. Hence, you may want to publish it with a pen name. Once you have received readers’ reviews and have confidence, you can consider self-publishing with your own name. You also have the option to link your real name and pen name.
It is not possible because of the content
In some cases, it is not possible to publish the book on Amazon with a real name. If you have written a book about your private life, you would certainly hope to keep it confidential and don’t want to reveal your true identity. For instance, if a victim of sexual abuse writes a book, they would like to keep the identity false.
Fun Fact: One of the global best-selling authors Nora Roberts, who has written more than 225 novels, has been writing under the pseudonym name. Her birth name is Eleanor Marie Robertson. She has written under multiple pen names. J. D. Robb for the popular Death series and used a different name, Sarah Hardesty, for the publications in the U.K.
List of well-known Author Pseudonyms/ Pen Names
There are many well-known authors with pseudonyms or pen names. On top of the list would be J.K Rowling. Her full name is Joanne Rowling, and K is an invention in her author’s name as she has no middle name. Some other well-known authors with pen names are:
Mary Ann Evans
David John Moore Cornwell
John le Carré
Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Choosing a Pen Name
If you decide to approach publishers with a pen name instead of a real name, the next big question is how to choose pen names? Your pen name is nothing less than a brand name or a trademark of a company. Hence, you should spend time thinking about the name.
The essential requirement is that your pen name be memorable ( more memorable than your real name). Try to come up with a name that suits your genre and writing style.
For marketing your book, at some point, you may need to create an author website. You need to choose a domain name for your website. So choose a name with an available domain name.
You will also need to create a social media handle with your pen name. Since you have the freedom to use the name – you should not choose a familiar name with existing social media handles. It should be completely unique. When your readers find you on Instagram or Twitter, only your profile comes up.
Try to come with a name that evokes the right emotions for your target audience and does not resemble any other author.
Another critical factor to consider is that the pseudonym should be in line with your age. The age of a writer plays a massive role in the mind of the reader. For example, if you are writing a book on Life & Death, and your name sounds like you belong to 18 years, it will not help you in marketing. It is advisable to pick a name a few years older than your target audience in most cases. Also, try to avoid sounding younger, if possible.
Steps to Publish under a Pen Name on Amazon
Publishing on Amazon with pen names is very easy. To self-publish your book, you can use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Once you have registered on the platform, you can add your book to your KDP account.
At the time of setup, the Amazon KDP asks for an author name. You can give your pen name under the ‘Primary Author’ section.
Next, in the Contributors section, you have to select ‘Author,’ which will show as the primary author. Once your book is published, your pen name will be shown on your author central account-Bookshelf page. Your real name will not be anywhere on your Amazon book page once your book is published. Just make sure you give the pen name on the book pages (not your real name), wherever applicable.
To market your book, you can add a new Amazon author page with your new name.
Is it Legal to Publish with a Pen Name?
Many writers have concerns over the legality of using the pen name. It should not be a concern for you now. There is nothing illegal about using a pen name, and we have already shared so many writers’ names with you who have written books under a pen name. Second, if there were legal issues, the publisher would not allow you to publish your book without verifying your real name. No such verification happens, and it is another testament that using a pen name is of no concern.
We have covered everything related to a self-publishing book on Amazon with a pen name. Hopefully, now you can figure out if publishing with a pen name is the right choice for you or not. If you feel the need for writing under a pseudonym, the only thing you should focus on is the right pen name for yourself.
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