How to Choose a Pen Name

Choosing to use a pen name can be a tough decision. Don’t think of it as losing your identity, rather gaining an extra personality. Knowing you want a pen name is only half the battle. How do you choose a pen name?

1) Narrow Down Your Genre

You should already know what genre you are writing for. If you don’t, stop everything and figure that out. Narrowing down your genre is the first step in getting to know your audience. Consider names that flow well with your chosen genre. For instance, if you write for children, think light-hearted, easy to pronounce names. Likewise, mysteryous names for the mystery writer, sexy harlot names for the romance author, and a great detective sounding name for the crime or thriller author.

2) Variations of your Own Name

If you aren’t looking to stray too far from your given name, start with some variations. Use your initials and keep the last name. Try out your middle name as first name, or first and middle. You can also do some variations of your name. My name is Michelle so I could use Mich, Elle, Chelle, Shell, Shelly, Michael, Mitchel (which I use), Mitch, and so on.

3) Name Generators

I love all the name generators found online these days. They are perfect to use when naming characters and places in my books. Why not use one to find a good pen name? Here are two you can try:

Name Generator (

Fantasy name generators. Names for all your fantasy characters.

4) Check for Popularity

If you know anything about the Actor’s Guild, no two actors can have the same name. That isn’t necessarily the case in the writing world, but it should be an unwritten rule. Your name should be as unique as the books you create. Therefore, once you narrow down a few pen names, run them through some search engines and see how many hits you get. Likewise, run the name on Amazon to see what sort of competition you would have. Ideally, you want a name that is not already taken; this will ensure you dominate any search engine as well as give you the ability to purchase the domain name.


Choosing a pen name opens a world of opportunity. Once you figure out some basic tips on how to choose a pen name, the process can be both entertaining and exciting. Who knows, perhaps you’ll come up with a few great character names in the process. Happy hunting!



Trying a Kickstarter Campaign

I’m a writer, and I love to write. I am not good at marketing, and I am certainly not good at selling myself or my work. It’s not that I don’t like my writing, I just lack the confidence that other people will find my stories as enjoyable as I do.

Breaking out of my comfort zone and the nice, warm, cocoon of my introverted world, I have decided to make a Kickstarter Campaign. My sole purpose for the Kickstarter is to gain a following and generate interest in my upcoming book. This is my first attempt at publishing and, although selling a load of books and making the NYT bestselling list would be amazing, I just want people to read and enjoy my books.

I really didn’t think the Kickstarter would do much for me. Again, it’s not that I have low self-esteem, but I am a realist. There are millions of books out there, what makes me think I’m worth someone’s time? Now that might sound like a “poor me” statement, but in all honesty, that is just me being realistic.

Truthfully, there is a certain amount of self-doubt that comes with writing. Am I good enough? Is this crap? Do my beta readers feel obligated to tell me its good, or is it actually good? These are questions I ask myself, and only myself. I’m not seeking validation, but I try to be realistic.

I’m not very good at asking for help, and I’m not a fan of the limelight, so this Kickstarter campaign is huge for me. This whole process has been an enormous step out of my comfort zone, but if I can get readers and followers who enjoy my books, then it is well worth it.

Artwork for my upcoming book

In just a few hours after posting the link to my Kickstarter, I had supporters and was almost 50% funded by the end of the day. Friends and family, mostly via Facebook, were supporting me and sharing the link with others. I can’t even begin to explain how emotional that was for me. Overwhelming, heartwarming, ego-boosting, and literally bringing me to tears. I honestly thought I would only have a couple backers, thanks Mom 😊, but I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who chose to believe in me. The response was astonishing. It’s hard for this writer to put it into words.

For years, I’ve been plugging away at different stories whenever I have a free moment. I’ve been writing in one way or another since I was in the second grade, that’s when I wrote my first one-page story about deers (that’s how I spelled it). I never thought anyone really cared one way or the other about my writing, thinking it was merely a silly hobby I often talked about. This Kickstarter really showed that people do care and that they are willing to stand behind me and support my endeavor without ever having read my work. That’s huge and so appreciated.

I think, despite the Kickstarter outcome, I will have accomplished at least two things. 1) I’ve gained interest in my writing and in my upcoming book. 2) I’ve gain self-confidence that people out there believe in my writing, and they are eager to read my books. Those two things make me feel accomplished.

I hope we can reach our goal, but if not, I’ve learned something. There are those out there who will support me, somewhat blindly, and believe in me no matter what. At the end of the day, I can really be proud of myself for that.

You can check out my Kickstarter Campaign here: Kickstarter

(all artwork created by our illustrator Ola )

Should I Use a Pen Name?


One of the top questions budding authors want to know is if they should use a pen name or their actual name. What are the main reasons for using a pen name?

A brief history lesson: Back in the day, or many moons ago, or whatever phrase you like to use when referencing a time long ago, women weren’t “allowed” to write for profit. Therefore, women, being the intelligent humans they are, wrote under male names and made millions. Well, maybe not millions but at least they were able to get their work published and read.

Fast forward to today, and pen names are not as necessary as they once were. So, why do people choose a pen name at all?

1) Common Names

My given name is Michelle (Peterson) Miller. A very common name. We’ve all done a Google search on ourselves…haven’t we? My name brings up pages and pages and still more pages of sites.

New authors face an uphill battle from day one, attempting to get their books in front of readers. If readers can’t find you, how will they know what a fantastic product you have for them?

I knew I wanted to be easy to find, and therefore, a new name was essential.

2) Hard to Pronounce Names

I think my name is pretty simple, Michelle. Still, I can’t tell you how many times I get called ‘Melissa’ or ‘Miranda’ or some other girl name that starts with ‘M.’ I can only imagine life with a more complex name.

Again, new authors face a difficult challenge. We work hard to get our books in front of readers. In turn, we hope our readers not only enjoy our books but recommend them to their friends and family. If your name is too hard to pronounce, those recommendations can get lost in translation, so to speak. “Oh, I read this great book. What was that author’s name? It was something different, Rosalusamontogin, or something like that.”

It’s something to think about when writing your first book. If people can’t remember your name, they may not recommend you or look to find more information about you.

3) Sexism and Racism

I hate to go here, but unfortunately, sexism and racism run deep in the book world. I am part of many author and reader groups; and shudder at some of the things people say. “I never read female crime writers; they don’t know that world.” “Men can never write romance correctly.” “I won’t buy a book by an (ethnic group) author; they aren’t writing for me.”

Writing is a very male-dominated business, believe it or not. There is a reason J.K. Rowlings used initials instead of her first name (hint: it made her gender-neutral). She then chooses a male pen name (Richard Gilbreath) when she moved to suspense/thriller books. Several other famous authors have done the same (Looking at you Nora Roberts/ J.D. Robb). You can read about J.K. Rowlings pen name here.

In Romance, the roles are flipped. Many men will choose a female name to gain recognition in this area. I went the J.K. Rowlings route and chose Mitchel.

4) Writing in different genres

Some writers love to bounce from genre to genre. I get it; if you have a story to tell, don’t let the boundaries of genre stop you. Keep in mind, if you create a following in Romance and then jump to Horror, you may lose part of your audience.  Likewise, if you get your start writing children’s books and switch to romance, there may be a few angry parents.

5) Anonymity

Perhaps you are writing more as a hobby. You want to test the waters, see if you can finish a book, try to publish on your own, and you just aren’t ready to share this part of your world with anyone. Some people simply want to keep their private lives separate from their public author persona. It can be fun to play an author role and hang that hat at the end of a busy day.


There are many reasons why someone may want to use a pen name. The question remains, Should I use a pen name? The only person who can answer that question is you. At the end of the day, it’s up to you.