There are many reasons why authors change their pen name:
- To write in a different genre. (Joanna Rowling didn’t want her book ‘Casual Vacancy’ to be identified with her Happy Potter series.)
- To write incognito if the author doesn’t want friends and family to identify them.
- To have a fresh start.
- To distinguish between their non fiction and fiction.
When is it possible to change your name?
- When publishing a new book.
- When your book is not currently published, say you are taking over the rights from a publishing company. In this case you must type on the ISBN page (with a new ISBN) that the book has been previously published under ‘Jane Tull’ by Fabric Press, for example.
- When you have not yet clicked publish if self publishing.
- Before submitting it to publishing companies.
- At the advice of your agent.
- When you have self published on Kindle and you change everything which refers to your name from ‘June Tull’ inside your manuscript but also write a comment ‘previously published under the name ‘Jane Tull’ on the ISBN page.
You cannot change your name on a paperback once it is published because the ISBN reflects the metadata of the book.
Why am I writing this?
I had this hair-brained idea after such a long break from releasing new novels, that I would like to add an initial M to my pen name. Why:
- to make my name more consistent with my blog:
http://www.dianamj.wordpress.com ~ Diana M Jackson’s News, Muse and Reviews
- make my name consistent with my website:
- to be more unique to my writing and distinguish myself from an unidentified Diana Jackson who has published a long line of psychology books which are nothing to do with me.
Please learn from my mistakes
When I was first published as an author with my debut novel Riduna, I had no idea of author branding, appearing on the Internet in a consistent way, or the best reasons to choose a name. I was just interested in getting my first novel published and was thrilled to share it with others.
Here are two blogs well worth reading if you have not yet published yourself.
The first by an author I really respect Joanna Penn
Here’s another good series of blogs on author branding
I’m quite happy with my pen name Diana Jackson, after all it is my maiden name, but I might consider adding an initial if I write quite a different series in the future, or if I write non fiction.
What do you think?