Why do some authors use pen names?

Something I’ve been asked quite a lot over the last few weeks, is why I chose to publish FOUND YOU, under a pen name, or ‘pseudonym’ if you’re feeling fancy. It’s a good question and something I don’t believe I’ve talked about before. Authors use pen names for many reasons, but for me, the answer is fairly simple…

I started Sarah Jules Writing Services almost four years ago, which makes me feel really old. I’ve talked a lot about why I started my freelancing business so I won’t go into the gory details here, but I will do in another blog post if you’d like to know more. Essentially, the basics are this… My last job made me very poorly. I’d suffered from depression and anxiety for a few years but my last job pushed me to a full-blown burnout. As such, when I started freelancing, my mental health was at (what I thought was) rock-bottom. I was terrified of my business failing and everybody laughing at me, which seems silly now, but at the time it was a real worry. So I decided to start the business under Sarah Jules, rather than Sarah Mosley, just in case it failed.

Fast-forward to three-ish years later. I’d written a book and I was deciding how/where to publish it. I could have published it under my real name, but the thing is, that ‘Sarah Jules’ is now associated with my writing business so it made sense to publish under that name. As such, if prospective clients want to research me, they will find my book. My novel reflects directly on my freelancing business, and vice versa.

As a ghostwriter, it is so difficult to find samples of my work to share with clients who want to get an idea of my capabilities. I have a few examples I can send to them, but it’s not the same as being able to point them towards a full-length book. So, that’s it. My book is published under a pen name because that pen name is associated with my business. Essentially, they are now one and the same.

But that’s just me. Plenty of other authors publish under pen names. Their reasons are vastly different to mine. Here are some famous examples…

  1. GEORGE ORWELL – Eric Arthur Blair.

“I suppose the thing is to have an easily memorable one – which I could stick to if this book had any success.”[1]

  • GEORGE ELIOT – Mary Anne Evans.

Women writers were not taken seriously at the time.

  • RICHARD BACHMAN – Stephen King.

Stephen King is well-known as the ‘master of horror’. You all know how much I love that man. He wanted to see if his novels could stand alone, without the help of his name.

  • ROBERT GALBRAITH – Joanne Rowling (JK Rowling).

“Historically, writers have used a different name when they’re going to write a different kind of book.”  The Robert Galbraith books are a far cry from Harry Potter, it has to be said. [2]

There are far more, of course, but you get the idea. Authors use pseudonyms for many different reasons: to hide their identity, to be taken more seriously, to move into a different genre. Mine isn’t quite as exciting as the above examples, but I do have my reasons. Also, fair warning, if I choose to write in an entirely different genre, romance, for example, I’ll have a further pen name because, why the hell not?!

So, there we go…

A nice quick blog post about why I chose to write under the name ‘Sarah Jules’.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about how self-publishing is going. My god, has it been a learning curve!



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