nom de plume

Is a Nom de Plume a No-No?


Dear Editor…

What are the pros and cons of using a pen name? What if you are quite a private person? Is this enough of a reason to use one? If so, what are some good ways to choose one and how do agents and editors feel about the practice?

Many thanks,
The Writer Behind the Curtain

Dear The Writer Behind the Curtain…

Whenever I hear news of yet another privacy violation in this all-access world we’ve created, I get a knee-jerk “I should’ve used a pen name” feeling. But I’d already established a career in publishing under my own name, so a nom de plume wasn’t a consideration. If you’re just starting out, you’re clear to go with a pen name—and there’s no reason you shouldn’t. As long as you consistently use it in your promotional/networking/social media existence, there won’t be any confusion. Agents and editors don’t care. As for picking the right pseudonym, you’re not trying to be conspicuous a la “Lemony Snicket,” so choose a name that sounds normal so no one will question it. Consider using your real first and middle initials or your nickname, though, so that you can comfortably respond to it when you’re in a book-related encounter.

Happy writing!
The Editor