Embracing Our Other Selves: Formula for Creating Your Literary Name

Interesting post expressing irritation about midlist authors in a “death spiral” of reduced sales having to use a pen name. Thanks to Gwenda for the link. (My current pen name, btw, which I’ve been using for over 25 years, is “Stephen King”.)

Really, though, I think we should embrace our other selves. A pen name provides a kind of freedom to reinvent oneself. It also depends on how much ego you have tied up in your name. If necessary–and even if unnecessary–I’d happily write under other names. In fact, should I ever finish this book for middle schoolers that I’m working on, I’ll be using the name “Buckwaldo Mudthumper” (so back off, Felix Gilman, Mr. Punkpunk–it’s taken!).

So, what’s your literary pen name? THIS IS THE OFFICIAL FORMULA (as created by, um, me):

(1) Use the first name of your favorite writer as your first name.
(2) Use the name of your first pet as your middle name or for your middle initial (if your pet had a separate last name…you’re a freak).
(3) Use the first or last name of your favorite character in fiction–your choice–as your last name.

Thus, I would be Vladimir Tiko Ahab…er, or not.



  1. says

    Damn! Now I’m totally conflicted…which would look better on a royalty check, Lulu Roxanne (the ubitquitous porn name) or Pamela Daisy Carter? It’s also fun figuring out what characters and authors folks are referring to in the previous posts…!

    I have to confess, though, our SECOND pet was named Scottie…after Scottie! My dad always got a kick out of telling said bassett hound to beam him up…

  2. Heep O'Trouble says

    Harlan F. Russell. Boring!

    (Stripper Name – Frosty Iberville…I like it!)

  3. says

    Edward A. Sun – how generic is that?!

    Edward – Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany
    A. – Amigo, my late chihuahua
    Sun – Sun Wukong, the Monkey King (Chinese last names come first)

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  5. says

    I would be Clive S. Okada (S is for Simon). This is fun. I am a girl but I liked my name. I will use this name. Clive is for C.S Lewis, S is for Simon (my cat), Okada.. Mr.Toru Okada (The Wind Up Bird Chronicles) Cool article.

  6. says

    Using Pen Names is sometimes a necessity
    if I put my data into your formula my pen name would be “Marcos S Kaliman” Think better change my favorite fiction hero. lol

    Congratulations Great Post

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  1. [...] Find your pen name! Link via various other blogs. I couldn’t really pick one because I have lots of favorite authors and lots of favorite characters, but the first one that I came up with was Rachel Abby Stargirl. Which is stupid and if I were to choose a pen name in reality that would not be it. [...]

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