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What’s in a (Pen) Name?

writing under a false name

I’ve pondered on this. Probably for as long as the Bard, himself, pondered on the famous question. What exactly are the benefits of using a pen name?

The only thing I can come up with is that the Author is trying to hide and a pen name provides an ideal mask. Maybe they have a corporate job and don’t want their “secret life” revealed.

Maybe they don’t think they are good enough and if no one knows who they are, then they shamefully hide in secret.

Maybe they write erotica and don’t want any sort of stigma associated with their name. (I believe Anne Rice did this. Although I’m not sure she was evading any stigma.)

Perhaps an Author doesn’t like the sound of their own name or it’s not easy to remember such as Sheffield Guglihamilitaer. (I made that name up. My apologies to the real Sheffield Guglihamilitaer if he’s lurking around Writers Pay it Forward.)

I’m not really touting benefits here because the fact of the matter remains that an Author using a pen name for the length of their writing career, will never be able to shine under their real name. In other words, if they hide in the shadows for their whole life, how will their legacy be passed down within their own familial lineage?

Let me put it this way. I would never consider (and have never considered), writing under a false name. Because let’s face it, that’s what a pen name is. I want the credit for my work. I want to be proud of my association with it. I want people to know my name. I can’t think of any benefit that surpasses that audible gasp of air an Author takes when they open a new shipment of paperbacks and see their name on the cover of their baby.

I already get asked if Avon is a pen name. No, it isn’t. It’s my husband’s name. It’s French-Canadian, and no, we do not get royalties from the famous make-up brand. I also plaster my maiden name all over the internet because I started publishing under my maiden name, Buccilli Publishing.

My husband and I are childless (not by choice). You’ll find me always referring to my books as my babies because like flesh and blood people, my books will carry my name and will become my legacy.

This was the dream. To see my name in print. To share my stories far and wide and entertain people. To be able to do this for years to come. This is what I’ve always wanted and this is the way it will always be until I am no longer around to use my digits to write – when my body is gone – the words will live on.

Under my real name.

Barbara Avon is the author of ten novels spanning several genres. She is also the author of three children’s books. In 2017, Avon won second place in FACES Magazine “Best of Ottawa” awards in the female author category.  In 2018, she was once again nominated and won in her category.  She vows to write until her pen runs dry.

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