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When You Should Consider Using a Pen Name as a Ghostwriter

  • December 26 2014
  • Comments Off on When You Should Consider Using a Pen Name as a Ghostwriter

You will find that some of the best writers have used pseudonyms, some having as little as one and others as many as eleven. The reasoning behind using a pen name comes down to certain circumstances and reasoning. Everyone has his or her own purpose for using a phony by-line. If you are a ghostwriter considering using a pen name for some or all of your works, then here are a couple of reasons to do it and some of the reasons not to do it. At the end, it will be up to you.


Why It Would Be a Good Idea to Use a Pen Name


There are a variety of good reasons to use a pen name for writing works. Here is a list of the pros of using a pseudonym:

    • Hiding Your Gender: If you are a male or female writing about a topic that appeals more to the opposite sex, you can use a name from the other gender, so that audience can accept your work. In the past, women have done this when writing in areas that are dominated by males.
    • Switching Genres: If you are planning on switching to another genre, you may not want to carry your name over to it. Sometimes, writers want to keep their brand to one genre and then create another brand using a pen name. Imagine Stephen King writing romance novels – that would surely kill his brand as the king of horror fiction.
    • Create a Unified Identity: If you are working with one or more other writers, you can create a pen name for the group, rather than using the names of everyone. This can give a book series or future books a more unified identity for the author. People grow attached to certain authors, which will keep this mind frame for readers.


When It Would be a Bad Idea to Use a Pen Name


Some ghostwriters decide to use a pen name for more sinister reasons, but prove to do more harm than good in the end. If you are considering a pseudonym for one of the following reasons, then you should think twice before doing so:

      • To Defame Enemies: If you are plotting to slander an enemy and think that a pen name will hide you, it will only do so for some time. Eventually, the authorities will link you to the writing when you are being sued for libel or slander.
      • Breaching Contracts on the Sly: Some publishing contracts require the author to show the publisher their next work and not publish it elsewhere. If you are trying to breach on your contract by using a pen name for the work, this could get you into trouble. However, do not be afraid to ask if writing under a pseudonym would waive this restriction — sometimes it does.
      • To Evade Taxes: If the reason you’re using a pen name is to lower your taxable income, this is considered tax fraud and could land you in a tub of hot water.
      • Exploiting Another Persons Identity: It would be great to get instant sales for a new book you wrote just by slapping “Stephen King” on it, but this could get you into real trouble. This would be considered identity theft and you could lose all the money you earned from the sales of that book. Not to mention, this could get publishers mad, generate confusion and stop you from getting your own loyal readership.


Whatever your reason for using a pen name, make sure it is only for legal purposes and will help advance your career.

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Cameron Mackey

Cameron is the Content Manager for the Vorongo Blog. He has spent three years in various content marketing roles. When he is not working with Vorongo he enjoys photography and hiking.

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