Last month I began writing and self-publishing under a pseudonym. I had thought about it for a long time, but… I’ll be honest, I wanted recognition for my writing, darn it!
As I was getting closer to completing my novella it became increasing clear that I had issues about publishing it under my own name. Unlike Dharma and Desire, my first book, this little novella is not entirely fiction. I guess you could call it a highly fictionalized memoir. And though I doubt anyone would be shocked and appalled by the content, it still made me uncomfortable.
You may or may not know that I got my start writing erotic romance and I’ve been published in a few anthologies. I stopped writing in that genre because I moved into more spiritual/visionary romance. Not to mention there is very little money to be made in anthologies!
But I’d heard that one can actually make decent pocket change selling kindle short stories. (Caveat: you must be prolific.)
Since I’m sooooo sick of not making any money on my writing, I wanted to give it a try. It was my desire for cold hard cash, along with cold feet about my novella, that motivated me to adopt a pen name.
The results have been incredibly liberating. In fact, I am kicking myself for not doing this a LONG time ago. I have written and published more in the past month under my pen name than I write and publish in a year as myself. The best part is that my novella is flowing free once again.
The only downside is that I have to build an entirely new platform and find new readers. Also, publishing kindle short stories is a long game. You need a lot of work out there before you’ll start seeing any money.
But to me, the benefits outweigh the cons. The top three benefits being:
1. Pen names allow you explore your various writing voices.
2. Without fear of backlash or judgement, you can be more authentic.
3. It takes some of the pressure off being perfect. If it’s a huge flop and everyone hates it… who cares! No one knows it was you. (And yet you still receive the benefit of learning from your mistakes.)
So, I invite anyone who struggles with fear around their writing to consider adopting a pen name. Do an experiment and write one short story as someone else. Write it with the knowledge that no one will ever know you penned it.
See what comes out. It may surprise you. And who knows… maybe it can even buy you a cup coffee. Eventually.
Do you write under a pen name? If so, how has it helped you as a writer?