What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

by Elizabeth Blake

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Whether we are writing under our given name or a pseudonym, how we choose to present ourselves to the world is important. We pour considerable energy and time into showing who we are and proving we have something valuable to say. Seeing a name we identify with on the cover of our life’s work is a potent thing.

Another author who writes under the name Elizabeth Blake recently contacted me and asked me to change my author name, which happens to be my given name. I politely said, “No thanks.”

Her concern was that people might get us confused. She was very worried that her audience might accidentally buy my books, thinking they were hers. Since she writes children’s picture books and I write violent dystopian fiction, I assured her any mix-up was unlikely.

The incident brings to mind two things. Firstly, if you build a social media following that is familiar with your personality and the look and feel of your work, cases of mistaken identity won’t happen often. Secondly, if you choose to write different in genres, it can be useful to have a different pen name for each genre. Authors have to consider their audiences. If you’re writing books that appeal to entirely different types of readers, a pen name can spare your audience confusion or disappointment.

I’m currently writing in vastly different genres under two names. I keep their businesses entirely separate from each other, and never the two shall meet. I’m confident in doing so because I know their readership does not overlap. Obviously, I’m an advocate of using pen names, but it isn’t the only way of doing things. It isn’t always the right way, either.

If you have nonfiction material that ties directly into your fiction work, it might be appropriate to market them together. For example, if you’re an expert on private investigation and you’re also writing a detective series, it’s safe to assume your audience won’t be surprised by either work.

Sadly, if you chose to use multiple names, you’ll have to invest the extra work required to present both personas to the world. Fellow introverts can attest to how draining the social media crusade is on our tender energy reserves, so be cautious. Make sure the need warrants the effort.

As always, keep writing.

I’m sure I’ve missed some pros and cons on the subject, so feel free to comment. Have you considered using a pen name?


Elizabeth Blake is a complex woman. She’ll tell you that she’s not that complicated, that her demands are simple: Coffee, good books, freedom, world domination… Elizabeth Blake is a sorceress of stories, a lover of letters. If you want to get to know her, visit The Mind & Heart of Elizabeth Blake, pick up her books, follow her on social media, buy her a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

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