On Self-Publishing

Harper’s Harpings – Choosing a Pen Name



Does it matter what you call yourself?

Yes and No.

As a writer or author, it shouldn’t matter what your name is, your writings should be the important part. Having said this, there is a lot to be said about choosing the right name, if you are opting for a pen name.

If you are going to write in the erotica genre and your name is Sarah Humps, do you want to go with that or choose another?

I write under four names, I do this to separate my genres. I am firm believer in the marketing premise of purchasing an item and know what you’re getting. Not everyone reads reviews and not everyone reads blurbs. It is my wish that eventually readers will choose a Grace Harper book without looking at the blurb and reviews because they know what they are going to get. If I started writing Sci-Fi under Grace would that confuse readers?

I can’t answer for anyone else but for me when I find an author I like I buy their books without reading anything as I know what I am going to get. I tend to mimic what I want, in what I do and how I act. That way I have the confidence to do it. Second guessing what the industry wants is too exhausting and changes within a blink of an eye anyway.

The best way? Do it your way.

There are various reasons why people take pen names or pseudonyms. To protect those around them, to have the freedom to write what you want, to separate your writing job from your personal life. For me writing is a job and passion, I haven’t decided if its my main job and my day job is my second job or the other way round. The point here is that I have a need to separate the different parts of my life. Writing has come late in my life, two years ago I hadn’t a notion that I would put fingers to the keyboard and now here I am with 10 publications under my belt.

The first name I chose, I love love loved, but I had to abandon her. Someone very close to me who knew about my alter ego betrayed my trust and outed me. It is important for reasons that won’t interest you that I my two lives are kept apart. This person has caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and it was easier to shut her down and start again, take the books off sale and shut down all social media. Tricky and heart breaking but I did it and then Grace poked her head up and said hi.

Re releasing her books is going to be interesting, the initial problem is being accused of plagiarism but I will talk about that next week.

Choosing a pen name, here are my considerations:

Is the name in keeping with my other names? What I mean by this is, it maybe a cover name but I do need to like it. It has to portray my personality and the person I am.

Is it less than 15 characters long? This is important if I want my name in my twitter handle. Twitter only allows 15 characters, I had to compromise with Grace Harper and be @AuthorGHarper because Grace Harper in all forms had been taken.

Does the name already exist? I don’t want to have the same name as another author or writer. Places to check: Google the name and see who comes up Jack pot is when no one comes up. Check GoodReads, twitter and Facebook, these places will give you a good indication about your name and who already has it. Ideally I only want to be one of me, to be easily found. My first pen name I chose didn’t exist anywhere at the time. Sadly I didn’t check thoroughly enough with Grace Harper and she is also a British porn star. I have nothing against porn stars, far from it, I write erotica, I just wanted to be the only Grace Harper. Selfish, yes.

Does it follow my stupid rule? Yes I have a silly rule, my pen names follow the same format and that is the letters follow each other in the alphabet. Grace Harper (GH), my one did too and also the new one I have set up. Olivia Purley is going to be my erotica genre’s pen name (OP). I write under horror as well and they follow each other too.

The other thing to consider and let’s take Olivia Purley as an example. She is going to write short stories only and they are going to be quick hook ups. The Scarlet Sessions is about Mistress Scarlet and her clients. First Encounters is about finally getting together with the one you lust after but just for one time.

For good or bad reasons, I attach names with genres. The name Marigold doesn’t scream erotica sex scenes to me, Marigold writes a ‘how to crochet’ book. Philomena to me writes about travelling the globe because I associate it with Phileas Fogg. I revert back to choosing how I think not what people want. I need to choose a name that fits into my genre.

I play around with the syllables of a name, after all I am going to have to write it and say it many times over the years (fingers crossed). Once I have settled on a name, and when I say settled, I’ve tried it out on several people first. I sleep on it for a week and see if I still like the name. I have turned down several decent names because I can’t get the twitter name I want.

My biggest disappointment with not being able to have a name is Violet Heart, I love that name but it doesn’t follow the alphabet letters and there is already a writer with that name. Another is India Jackson, it follows the rule but she is a photographer with a high-profile. So from a marketing point of view if you Google either of these names you wouldn’t get me until page 12, and you’ve given up half way through page one on Google, let’s be fair.

I have always loved the names Grace and Olivia, Olivia was going to be the main protagonist’s name in my up coming four book saga but the name has been done to death in romance books of late so have changed it to Catherine instead. Grace is timeless, and versatile, love the name.

Do you have a pen name? How did you come up with it? Let me know.

Thanks for reading



Harper’s Motto: You will not be everybody’s favourite flavour, but that’s ok, because they will not always be your favourite flavour.   Be who you want to be and you will attract the people who will support you no matter what.


2 thoughts on “Harper’s Harpings – Choosing a Pen Name”

  1. When I chose my pen name there was only one other known person who had the same name within his name and it was an author who died long ago. So, I told my publisher my pen name to get the official side of publishing organised and then I proceeded to obtain a web site, etc. PaigeThomas.com was already taken on the web, though the site was non-existent at the time, forcing me to go with PaigeThomasAuthor.com. So, after almost a year of editing I burst onto the social media scene only to discover that a woman by the same name had recently been on X Factor in the U.S (of which we don’t get in Oz, so I had no idea), and there was also a seemingly popular escort in Australia who popped up on the web. If I had a dollar for every email and message I received from someone thinking I was a singer I’d be one rich lady. Funnily enough, I haven’t had anyone contacting me for “a good time”…yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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