As an author, you’ll find that producing a quality, well-written book is just half the battle. There are a dozen other things to juggle. One is the development of your personal brand.
As Jeff Bezos said, “a brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Well-known authors like Seth Godin, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King all have unique brands that suit their work. When you see their name on the cover of a book, you know what to expect.
Even if you have a smaller following, the audience you have should have a specific mental image when they hear your name. This means that you have a big decision to make before your first book is published. Should you use your name or publish your books under a pseudonym instead?
First impressions are a powerful thing. Although the author’s name is just a small detail of a book’s cover, it holds a great deal of weight in terms of marketing. It’s not a decision to take lightly.
Is My Brand Still Authentic if I Use a Pseudonym?
In most cases, an author’s audience understands when they make a decision to publish under a pen name. It’s part of the creative journey. Building an authentic brand doesn’t necessarily mean you’re required to let people into your personal world. However, there will be some people who feel differently.
While some authors are excited to share their personal information with the world, other authors instead create a persona for the purpose of best branding their work. For example, there are women who choose the pen name of a man, or simply publish under their initials. Additionally, some authors use two different names for publishing books in different genres. While it’s not uncommon to use a pseudonym, it’s not without challenges.
For example, an author’s reputation often sells a book before the book sells itself. An author’s expertise or personal backstory may be the juice needed for successful press and interviews. However, it’s not the end of the world if you have strong feelings against publishing a book under your legal name. This is especially true for anyone who shares a name with someone who’s already well-known. The key is consistency and a certain level of transparency that leaves your audience feeling connected to you and your brand.
If you’re struggling with the decision, consult publishers and fellow authors who have experience with the pros and cons. They will likely be able to provide valuable insight to help with your specific dilemma.