There are several blogs and writings about pen names, so all of the information is out there. I don’t want this to necessarily be repetitive…
I personally like pen names. There are many who don’t believe in them and think you should just be you, but are they looking at the whole picture?
Pen names are used for anonymity. If someone doesn’t want their work linked back to them; a pen name is preferable. This could be a teacher who writes erotica and doesn’t want their students to know. It could be someone who has a story that would have them facing a lot of backlash from family or friends if they knew it was actually them. It could be that someone isn’t confident in their writing and how it will be perceived and so wants to have no direct relation to it…
Pen names are also used if a writer works in different genres. If people get used to you writing about one thing; are they ever going to be open minded to something that is a little bit different? Or are they going to expect that new story to automatically go along with what they know you usually write?
I currently have 3 pen names. I realize that that sounds like a lot, though if you look at one specific author you’d agree it’s not too far out there. Lauran Bosworth Paine had more than 70 different pen names. He wrote books of romance, mystery, science fiction and non-fiction. His publishers only allowed a certain number of books to be published under one name, so he made another one, then another, then another and so on.
I chose pen names for all of the reasons listed above. I prefer anonymity. This is partly because I am too self conscious about my writing and don’t want to risk people I know reading and then not liking my books. Anonymity also allows me to write freely without concern of family and friend’s reactions.
I also have 3 different pen names because I have three genres of writing. They do not mix well, and so I needed to separate them. If I write one type of story, how can I expect anyone to take seriously what I might publish in a different genre? Then there is the mix of romantic prospects within the stories. I cannot publish lesbian romance and then turn around to put a guy in a new story. I would alienate readers and possibly lose them for any prospective works.
Finding a pen name in my opinion wasn’t too difficult. I did not use a pen name generator. I took names that I liked and possible last names that might work with those names. I’d then research to make sure there weren’t a ton of people with that name; the less the better. For this one I went for strong females. Ryan was the first female winner of Ink Master. That’s an achievement I admire. Then I wanted to play off of Harriet Tubman. Using the actual name just didn’t feel right. I went back to Google. Start with the first name and variations of offshoots of that last name; which one was best? People will not likely link the two names I chose, but I liked it. That was what mattered.
You could do a variation of your name. Rearrange letters to make a new name. You could use your maiden name. You could do what I did. Or of course there are those pen name generators. As I did not use them I don’t know how well they work, but they should get you started.