Should I Use a Pen Name?

Pen and NotepadThose who’ve been following my blog a while know that I’ve been writing and editing my first urban fantasy for some time. It’s getting closer to completion, but while there’s still work to be done, I’ve started pondering about whether I should adopt a pen name.

The thing is, I’ve been writing and publishing mysteries for years. This blog is called Mystery Deb and my amateur sleuth transit mysteries are pretty much my brand. But I’ve been stretching my wings and am excited about this new creative part of my life. So the question is, do I keep my name or should I adopt a pen name for the fantasy novels?

I’ve read a few blogs over the past couple of years about the pros and cons of using a pen name when publishing in different genres. I don’t remember the details in those blogs, but I do remember some points, and both sides presented good arguments.

One of the main reasons for keeping one’s name is that the author’s platform is already there. If readers like the author’s writing style, then they might be more inclined to try the author’s work in a different genre.

The downside of this is that new readers who don’t know the author could become confused as to what it is they write exactly. They might come across one title in the mystery series, but see another title in the fantasy genre. Does this really confuse readers, though?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have any of you used pen names? If so, what are the pros and cons? As readers, do you find it challenging to follow an author if that person is using different names?

If I go ahead and choose a pen name, should I be setting up a separate platform on my blog Twitter account and Facebook page, or should I keep it all together? Decisions, decisions…

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

14 thoughts on “Should I Use a Pen Name?”

  1. I started out writing with a penname and found it quite difficult to promote myself. You already have a platform and are quite well known. Unless you really want to reinvent yourself because it would be a marvelous adventure, I’d publish under your own name. Genres are fluid these days. I even write different genres within my series. I have a friend who writes gay romance and fantasy. Your mysteries will sell your urban fantasies and vice versa. This, from the author who writes “edgy urban fantasy with a twist of murder!”

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  2. Debra, for the time and effort alone to set up new promotion and platforms etc I would publish under your own name. Several authors write different genres in their name and people quickly realise which one it is and if they are interested. Instead perhaps make the fantasy covers totally unique and harmonious with each other. Finally, a writer friend adopted a pen name when she started publishing but quickly regretted it as she went out to talks, schools, bookshops etc. Good luck with whatever you decide!

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  3. I agree with the others, stick with your own name. I think unless you are writing something totally different like erotica, it would be best to use the name readers associate with your writing. Many authors write in a number of genres. xo

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  4. When changing genres, I think it is a good thing to use a pen name — even if it is a mild change, like using initials and your last name or part of your name. It helps with marketing in the new genre. But I also as a reader always appreciate an author who also lets me know “also writes Detective Fiction under the name….” Chances are, I will want to try some of that genre as well, having learned to trust you as a storyteller!

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  5. I like KC’s suggestion. If you decide to use a pename, using your initials gives you some flexibility. I wouldn’t go so far as to have two social media accounts – that’s too much work. A drop-down menu on your website would differentiate your two personas. I’m looking forward to reading it no matter which name you publish under.

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