On Pseudonyms

I've started writing a creative nonfiction project which I hope can be self-published by the autumn. But I've decided already that I'll be publishing it under a completely different pseudonym, for reasons.

As many of you know, the name I write under--Michelle Athy--isn't my legal name. Michelle is my middle name. Athy is my real last name. I write under that name for a few reasons. I don't like my real first name, it's too distinctive. The name is part of my real name but different enough that it wouldn't cause issues in Real Life.

I know a lot of romance authors use pseudonyms: Courtney Milan, for instance. And some authors use different pen names for different genres.

I'm hardly an established author by any means, but I have written stories in different genres already and they all used my author name--and most of the things I'm working will be published under Author Name, whenever that may be.

But not this particular memoir/creative nonfiction thing. I haven't decided what the name will be, but it is an interesting thing--like, do I have to have an email under that name? What about social media? How do I promote the thing without linking Michelle Athy me--which admittedly is pretty easily connected to Real Me if you know where to look--to the thing?

Frankly, the idea of having yet another email and twitter for a pen name I'll probably only use the once sounds exhausting.

Do you use a pen name? How did you come up with it?


  1. Creative nonfiction, huh? Curious. :)

    I mostly just wanted a different last name. I went back and forth between two choices for a couple of years, and I just liked Ruin better. It was something random that jotted down in a notebook in college. Random fits me. ^_^ I could never settle on the other one. It was too common or something.

    1. Yep, basically a fancy term for essays and anecdotes. I haven't decided on the pen name yet. Just wanted to get people's thoughts on it.

    2. It may not be worth it if you're only going to use it once. I listen to a couple of podcasts with authors who have multiple pseudonyms, and it's definitely a lot of work, though they're actively upkeeping the other names. Since I read this post, I was wondering if I would publish like say, a memoir, under my name, but I think it would be weird to have a memoir or anything nonfiction on the same page as a bunch of paranormal books. I wouldn't have to change my email or social media or anything though, because I'd likely just drop the last name and move on.

      I personally don't think creative nonfiction clashes with historical and contemporary fiction. Like I can see a book of essays sitting on the same shelf with your other works. It clashes more for me because of the supernatural elements in my genre. Even a dark thriller would clash with the rest of my brand. Luckily, I have narrow tastes when it comes to my writing.

    3. Yeah, the new pen name wouldn't be because it clashes with anything else...I'm really uncaring of that part of it. Like, creepy short stories totally mix with contemporary romance! It's because the thing has some real life incidents and anecdotes in them.

  2. Clearly this is not my real name, as my real name is incredibly boring. (It's basically the equivalent of Mary Smith.) Somewhere waaay down the line, I do have an idea for a book outside my usual romance genre that I'd try to get "traditionally published", and should all the stars align and that actually happen, I'd probably use some variation of my real name. But you're right, then I'd have to go through all the trouble of creating an online presence for THAT name. Bleh.

    Pointing out the obvious, but you could have all correspondence for all your pen names kicked to one email address. Then have your "assistant" reply so you don't have to keep track. :D

    1. I'm not sure how much email a new pen name would get, but the thought of trying to promote a self-published book when it's a different name...and making sure to establish an online presence for that name...seems exhausting.

  3. Using a pen name is easy but if you are new then maintaining online presence under the pen name as well as your own name would be hard.

    1. I mean, it's possible to drop a book without an online presence--even with an online presence, it's not like my books are selling much anyway.


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