You know me as Jennifer Mattern. That’s my “real” name, or at least it was before I got married. And it’s the name I’ll continue to use here and in running the bulk of my business. But I’m also pursuing fiction, and for that I use two pen names. I don’t stress over keeping those pen names private though. In fact, I’ve noticed a trend lately where more and more authors seem to be sharing the different names they use publicly.
Aren’t pseudonyms largely about privacy though — hiding who you really are? To a degree it started out that way. And for many writers I’m sure that’s exactly why they do it. But not me.
I don’t use pen names for privacy. I use them for a marketing advantage. And a part of that marketing strategy is to publicly share those names among my different reader groups.
I’m currently writing the first in a murder mystery novel series under the name Aria Klein. And I’m prepping my first horror novel under the name A.J. Klein (A.J. simply combining my other pen name and my real first name). Obviously I don’t care that those names can be tied together. They’re similar for that very reason, and the genres mesh reasonably well. Chances are good that I’ll write under yet another name when I start my first children’s book — the only type of creative writing I’ve formally studied.
Why bother with the pen names and maintaining new websites and social media identities if I’m going to tell people “we” are all the same person anyway? As I noted, it’s about marketing. Here are some of the specific reasons this can work to your advantage if you aren’t using a pseudonym just to keep your real identity private.
- You won’t screw with your own search engine rankings. I’ve spent years building search engine rankings for my name and site brands. I don’t want a new, only mildly-related, site coming along and knocking them down a few pegs.
- It allows for more targeted social networking. Not everything I say to freelance writers applies to horror fans for example. It might even annoy the hell out of them. At the same time, most freelancers probably don’t care about the novels, research for them, or even me yapping about horror films I’m watching on any given day.
- You can present yourself as whatever “individual” you want. For example, let’s say you write fantasy novels and you go to a related convention. Would you rather give out business cards tied to your pen name in the genre or one for your real name which you use for your freelance writing services? I’d opt for the former.
- Depending on the types of projects you take on, there might be tremendous opportunities for cross-promotion. Again, this works for me because mysteries and horror can tie in nicely. Even something like this blog can tie into my fiction work because I can talk about the publishing arm of my business, sales and marketing, etc. — things other freelancers might have an interest in if they’d like to publish books as well. I also have an indie publishing blog (under my real name) that would be a logical cross-promotional tool.
For these and other reasons, you might see me mention those pen names and related projects here more in the future (although not more than freelance writing). And if you’re interested in following the projects or connecting via Twitter, here are the new sites and profiles:
- Aria Klein (mystery author site)
- MurderScripts.com (the novel series site)
- Aria Klein (Twitter)
- A.J. Klein (horror author site)
- A.J. Klein (Twitter)
Do you also write under multiple pen names? If so, do you share those pen names publicly? If you find any marketing benefits to using different names for different projects or genres, let us know what those are. Do you write under pen names but keep them private? If so, tell us why you prefer to go that route and if you’ve ever considered the more public approach.