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How to Create a Pen Name: Part 3 of 3

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By Edited Aug 6, 2016 1 0


Part One covered: What is, How Used and Who Uses them; Online Writers; Books and Authors; Who is the Real Author of the Book; and A Brief What and Why of a PN.s As we learned there are many valid reason, and fun reasons, to use a pen name. 

In Part Two we continued with examples of famous names and authors using PN, more on why you should consider using one, and began discussing creative ways that you might use in deciding on a nom de plume. You may have thought of a few of these methods yourself. Or, you may be familiar with some of theme because of authors you already recognize.

Puzzle Combined


Compounding can be formed by taking two or more words to create a single new word or name. Compound words or names can be written as one word, as two words joined with a hyphen, or as a combination of a single word name and first name. More creative PN creations can be accomplished by compounding names or words based on translations from author’s/artist’s home language into any other language of choice, especially if you are trying to send a subtle message. Select a brief message, four or less words. Translate those words into the language of your preference; you may want to try multiple translations until you find a reasonable number of translated words that can be easily combined and also still sound reasonable and plausible as representing a name for the country-language you have selected.

Here are Examples of Multiple Methods Combining Techniques

Example One: The very common and, in my opinion” over used phrase “Seize the Day” can be translated from English to Spanish as “agarre el dia.” Then by using “Agarre” as a pseudonym for a first name, we can compound the words “el dia” to create a last name of “Eldia.” Thus we have a PN of “Agarre Eldia” a fictitious Spanish author; notice how a person’s real name can still be totally voided in this way.

Example Two:  From the simple phrase, “Best Wishes,” and after trying a handful of language translations you select English to Dutch translation. The English to Dutch translation for Best Wishes is “beste wensen.” To create at least a last name you can simply combine “beste wensen” to create “Bestewensen.” For a first name you can pick either your real initials or select anything that reasonably fits the compounded last name. In this case we’ve selected “Jan”, a common Dutch first name. Then we can create thePN of “Jan Bestewensen”, a fictitious pen name of a Dutch author.

Ahnentafel Herzog Ludwig Family Tree

Name Linked to Family Lineage

Trace your family lineage back three or more generations and select one of those names or combination of names to create a pseudonym and a personal profile to go along with the identity. Keep in mind that the farther you go back in your, or anyone's family tree, the names can be quite unusual. And, if your intent is to find a truly "off the wall" name, that is surely one way to do it. Here are a few from my family tree: Preserved Whipple, first name like Johann, Eitel, Hans, and Claus. These PNs work well when writing historical an accounts that combine both fictional and non-fiction material. Don’t limit yourself to your gender; consider the point of view you desire to have the story told from – male or female, old or young and participant or observer.

Copyright Symbol


Is it necessary to copyright your pen name? Not really – however, it is beneficial to do so as a part of protecting the rights to the identity and the work associated with that moniker. Some cities want you to file your PN with them for tax purposes. Copyrighting your pseudonym has the added benefit of verifying your ownership for legal purposes. Consider documenting your pseudonym(s) yourself on some type of generic form letter then notarized and filed with your attorney.


A down side of using a pen name can occur if someone else later tries to claim your work as their original work and you haven’t copyrighted or legally recorded your pseudonym. Book signings at public events and book stores can become complicated as the fans or readers notice multiple pseudonyms attached to the same face. Since book publishers want to get you out on the road for these book signings you can imagine the problems this creates.


Final Word

If your intent is to truly keep your real identity secret you will not succeed if you actually attend those signings, interviews or become actively involved in promoting your work. Additionally, with the pervasiveness of the internet, and with a little time, your real identity will be known.



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