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Top Tips for Managing Your Pen Names


If you use different names as an author, managing your pen names can get a bit confusing. It’s difficult to remember different logins and passwords for different sites. In addition, when you use multiple names, you can’t use your Facebook account for each of them for logging in, so it can get a bit tricky to remember. Let’s look at some techniques for managing your pen names.

Why Do You Want to Use a Pen Name?

If you write in different genres, you may want to keep them separate so you don’t confuse your readers.

You might be writing stories where you don’t want people to recognize themselves and to know who you are. You may have a real name similar to another author so you might want to change that so that there’s no confusion there. And there are instances of novelists who use the name of one of their main characters and write the book as is as if it was an autobiography which is a terrific idea.

We’re following in some very good footsteps. Lots of authors have used pen names, notably, CS Lewis, who wrote poetry as Clive Hamilton, when he was a professor at Oxford. He did use another name as well.

George Orwell is is a famous pen name. His real name was Eric Blair.

George Eliot was Mary Ann Evans and SCHIP because she was a woman and women didn’t write books successfully in those days she used a male name.

JK Rowling, as most people know, has been exposed as Robert Galbraith because she wanted to step out from under the success of the Harry Potter novels and just see if she could do it under another name.

How to Manage Your Pen Names

Digital publishing is so fast-moving and we need to remain current and remain visible. We want to be found. You may have written the most fantastic book in the last decade but unless people find it it’s not going to be successful and that means putting yourself out there, having a presence wherever you can.

It’s a good idea to claim your name or your names on the big sites so that you have a presence there, so even if you’re not going to do anything with it, you’ll have a placeholder, with a link to a website or a blog. People will be able to find you.

You might also want to be on the book cataloging sites: Goodreads, Shelffari, and LibraryThing, There are others. Those are the main three.

Let’s look at techniques first. The first thing to do is to create accounts on the big social media sites.  Do what you can to automate your presence on the book cataloging sites as much as possible so that you have information feeding the sites when you post on one of them. It’s a great way of not spreading yourself too thin.

It’s a good idea to focus on one or two sites for each pen name.

You might decide to focus on different things with each pen name depending on your genre and what you’re trying to achieve and the audience you’re trying to reach.

You might want to use social media on each of them. You might want to use book cataloging sites on each of them.

Obviously you would have an Amazon profile so you might focus on reviewing under one pen name.

You might focus on putting yourself out there on blogs, so approaching blogs and asking if you can do a guest blog article is a good strategy.

You might have a podcast under another name.

Maybe you’ll run webinars and other types of things so if you could decide what were your target audience are hanging out you can then decide how you can reach them.

You could use your own photo which is a good idea and certainly for LinkedIn you would want to do that or you might decide to use a stock image.

I do know authors who do that. I’m not sure I would want to do that myself.  What I tend to do is have photos of myself taken in different environments.

Cartoons aren’t recommended for business use, although there was a trend a couple of years ago now for businesses to use cartoons but that era has passed so it’s not a great idea at the moment. It can make you look a bit dated now.

Goodreads is a great place to hang out as an author. It is a powerful website for both authors and readers.

It’s a great place to meet your readers and a great place to reach people who might not otherwise have found you by looking on Amazon.

Goodreads is wonderful because you can feed each Goodreads account that you have (and you can have multiple accounts under multiple names) from separate blocks so if you happen to have three pen names in three blocks you can link them to all your Goodreads accounts so that every time you write a blog it will feed your Goodreads account and you don’t have to go there so often.

You can connect one of your Goodreads accounts to your Facebook profile.

Maybe you would want to connect another one to your Twitter account and you could connect another one to a different account.

Another idea is to take advantage of the multiple types of widgets that Goodreads makes available free of charge. So it’s a great way of pulling in people from different areas.

On Facebook you use profiles and pages to reach people. You can have only one Facebook account so therefore one profile.

It’s really not a good idea to open personal Facebook accounts under different pen names because Facebook Terms of Service say that you can only have one account. You could argue in court that the different pen names require different accounts but I think it would cost a lot of money.

It’s probably safer to stick to one under your real name if you if you use that and then have Facebook pages for your other pen names.

Facebook is good because, like Twitter, you can schedule your posts in advance. You can schedule a few on a Monday and have them going out over the week. Link your Goodreads account with your Facebook profile not with the different pages so you can only do that with one of your pen names.

Twitter is good because they do allow you to have multiple accounts. You can have a Twitter account for each of your pen names. You could then link those to the different Goodreads accounts. Scheduling tweets in advance is a really great way to save time as on Facebook, but be very very careful if a major news story breaks. If there’s a tragedy unfolding, people get into trouble because they’re still tweeting about trivia. This is because they’ve scheduled the posts in advance.

So if a major news story happens,  especially a tragedy, stop your scheduled tweets and restart them when things have calmed down.

Top Online Tools for Managing Your Pen Names

If you’re not technical, don’t worry because these tools are not complicated.

Kee Pass is a fantastic piece of software that I’ve just been introduced to recently.

It’s a free software and it manages your passwords. It’s safe and it doesn’t show them so if someone was to get into your account, there isn’t a list of passwords available to them. They are x’ed out – but you can copy and paste them when you go to the accounts to login.

You have a master password for KeePass and you can make that quite complicated so someone couldn’t guess.

What I’ve done is set up a group in KeePass for each of my pen names and then I set up under each group the different accounts that I use with that pen name.

I have my Amazon author profile and my different social media accounts, book cataloging accounts, and any other sites that I go to. I have blogs on different subjects for each of the different pen names so it makes going to them very easy.

Click a link and it opens that URL and if you can’t remember your user name, you can copy and paste that in and you can copy and paste your password in. This has revolutionized my life because I don’t have to stuff my head with all these things that I need to remember.

One strategy is to use different days for different pen names to focus on social media and blogging. I just click on KeePass to open the different URLs and I can quickly share what I need to.

Evernote is another wonderful piece of software. Everybody who’s used it tends to love it. It’s a desktop software so you can open it, go to the site, and use it on your desktop.

I have an iPhone and an iPad so I have the Evernote apps on those also and whatever I’ve added on the computer I can find on the app and vice versa.

Sometimes when you’re out and about or standing in line somewhere, you might be browse the internet and find something useful – perhaps a piece of research that you want to save for a future book – you can clip it and save it in Evernote Then later on when you’re at your your laptop or your computer, you can bring it up again.

You can save website URLs, photos. You can add notes and to-do lists and I find it very useful for scanning.

I might get something through the mail and I can scan it into Evernote and retrieve it whenever I want to later so it’s just another thing for making life a bit easier and stopping you needing to remember lots of stuff because you can access it easily.

I create a different notebook in Evernote for each pen name and then I save ideas, source materials, links to articles, book promotion pages I like and so on.

There’s a mobile Evernote app for smartphone and tablets.

It’s great for making use of time that would otherwise not be usable for working or for researching. Send out a quick tweet when you’re on the go or access something like HootSuite which is an app you use to access several social media accounts.  I find it really useful when I’m traveling. I can access HootSuite and share some posts. The mobile app is tremendously useful for saving time and you’ll generally have your pen names and your logins saved in there.

I use different browsers where I’ve gone to the different sites that I use so the Facebook – Twitter – Linkedin and I’ve told it “yes” when it wants to save my details – username and password.

So I use Firefox with my main pen name. With my real name I use Internet Explorer. I don’t use Chrome. I don’t like it. I use Safari so I have my three different pen names with three different browsers and then I bookmark for sites I go to most often and tell them to save my login and password.

We’re going to look at a few tips finally or making life a bit easier and clearing some of the clutter from our brains.

A Weekly Strategy for Managing Your Pen Names

Monday I do my work on my first name so I do social media updates. I’ll do a little bit of blogging. I might send out some requests for reviews or some appeals to ask people to have me on their podcast or blog.

On Tuesday I do it all again but with a different name and that’s what works best for me. I’ve spoken to a few authors and that works really well for them.

Signing up for Google Alerts is always a terrific idea. You can set up alerts for each of your pen names for each of your books and topics that you write on. Or things that might trigger ideas for you in the future and Google sends you alerts to let you know when those things have been mentioned online so it’s great to be able to keep an eye on when you’re being mentioned. Often you can find things that you can respond to.

Perhaps there’ll be a story and you learn in the news that it is in your area of expertise.  You could write a quick press release about it and get that out. Or you could ring a local reporter and offer them a comment on a story that they have run. They might want to go a bit further with it so Google Alerts are very useful.

Couple of things to be aware of as I mentioned earlier you can’t have more than one Facebook account, but with most of the other platforms, you can. Just keep an eye on their Terms of Service because they might change.

Do be careful with LinkedIn. It’s more formal and they tend to send out nagging messages more frequently than other platforms.

Be very very professional on LinkedIn. That’s what they’re aiming for and that’s why they message people who are ever so slightly spammy or who have a jokey photo for their profile picture. It’s probably best to stick to your real or your primary pen name, and if you want to be transparent about your other names, you could list them on your profile. LinkedIn is very  powerful in terms of SEO, so it’s a good idea to have a presence there.

There might be lots of reasons you don’t want to be completely transparent about your pen names and that’s fine. Lots of authors don’t tell anybody about the different pen names they write under, so don’t worry too much about that.

Just be careful that you’re not in an account under one name and writing about something but you you write under another name so if you’re going to be transparent. Be transparent on every platform that you’re on and, if not, just be careful that you’re not logged in to the wrong account!

Once you’ve set up a presence on the major social media and book cataloging sites, you don’t have to visit them every day. You could just choose one or maybe two to focus on and put up regular updates.

Your profile on the others remains. That helps your SEO.

You boost your website and it will give you.

It shows social proof so if reporters google to look for an expert on whatever your field of expertise is, if you have lots of presence online in lots of different areas, the chances of you coming to their attention are much higher than if you only had one website and didn’t put yourself on any platforms. So just having a presence saying, “this is me,” even if you don’t update the sites is is worth having.

Then perhaps every time you publish a book you could you could go back and update and say that you’ve published a book and add it to your list of books.

LinkedIn has a very good space for adding publications. 


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