#IWSG: Should You Use Pen Names?

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Question for this month: Should you write under a pen name if you write in multiple genres?



The answer for this question will vary if you were to ask any writer.

Some may say, no don’t do this – it would confuse the readers.

Others will then say, yes definitely or it could confuse the readers.

I suppose it all depends on how drastic the differences are between the genres you’re writing.

I know of an author who writes historical fiction with varying forms of sub-genres. She keeps her last name the same, but her first names are different. Since she’s writing in historical fiction, she chose first names directly from ancestors in her family tree (which many of the books are based off).

Another good example would be Nora Roberts.

She writes Romance (with varying forms of sub-genres) as Nora Roberts.   As JD Robb, she writes futuristic suspense/crime fiction.

Another good example is C.S. Lewis who wrote children fantasy books. He also wrote poetry – under pen name Clive Hamilton.

Personally, I do use pen names as I enjoy writing in more than one genre.

Under Carrie Ann Golden I write dark fiction and poetry; C Ann Golden for mainly fantasy; and CJ Austin for action/thriller.


What about you? Do you write under different names other than your own?




  1. Hadn’t really thought about it til I read this. I guess I do use pen names: Mil Holmes, Millie Holmes, Niiganabiik as well as Mildred R Holmes. Those are all my names, ‘cept now I may have rethink this as my state requires a DBA if the business name you use is not your legal one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So far, I’m only writing under my real name (or someone else’s – ghost writing). I think I’d take on a pen name if I were writing in different genres regularly. Or if I wrote anything hugely political. Don’t want weirdos tracking me down.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It certainly makes sense for children’s authors to use a different name for their adult books. We wouldn’t want a young person to see the name of an author they love and then pick up something that’s not yet appropriate.
    The drawback of using multiple names is having to maintain multiple social media accounts and potentially missing out on some fans who would read both genres. (Not that horror and romance have a lot of crossover fans, but they are out there.)
    I’m curious about the legal side. Would one get a business number or link all the names to a social security number? (Or whatever non-US countries use to figure out taxes and such.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is such a thing as having too many pen names. Which is why I’d like to keep mine right around 3 at the most. As for the legal side, I am not sure how that all works. My work, at this point, is for at no cost so I don’t delve into the tax/legal aspect of the business of writing. When I’m at that point, though, I probably will get an attorney to help.


  4. So far I’ve only written under my new name, but I do have plans to branch out and will likely use a pen name then. (Shannon from thewarriormuse [dot] com-it auto-signs me into my podcast account and I’m too lazy to deal with it)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve thought of using pen names. In particular for romance. Haven’t decided what my pen name should be (written a list of possible pseudonyms) but they all have the same initials as my own name LW.


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