Discussions about pen names versus real names keep coming up. I use my real name, not merely because it is unique in this country, but also because my name has a history in the comics biz. So why not let people who know me learn about my novels? I’ve used combinations of relatives’ names for a couple of the graphic romance novellas I wrote, but since those pen names are open secrets I don’t see that using them again would give me any privacy. You can google them and find the real me, anyway. And what is privacy, in an era in which people willingly put microphones in their homes to tell “Alexa” to order them something at Amazon? The concept of privacy seems to be on shifting sands these days.
Or is the point to sound white-bread midwest American? Not playing that game anymore, even though my family (half of it) has genuine midwest roots. If people won’t buy my books because my first name sounds old-fashioned (it is) and my last name sounds foreign (what is foreign, anyway, in a country composed of immigrants?), to heck with them. I’ve also gotten old enough to want any potential renown created by my books to go to my real name. Nothing sweetens a “weird” name like success.
Back when shelving in a bookstore mattered, I would have advised a new author to pick a pen name very close to a hot author’s spot. For example, in romance, Nora Roberts, so you become Robber, Roberta, or even Robin. That still works if your books are in physical bookstores. Mine can be ordered in bricks-and-mortar bookstores, but they’re not ordinarily shelved in such stores. So what’s the point of bothering with a self-aggrandizing, lookalike pen name? None, I think.
I don’t mind not seeing my books in bookstores, because my local library makes a point of stocking all my books. That’s pretty cool; the public library was my favorite place as a teenager.