I don’t use pen names, but I can understand why an author may want to use one. Writers Write recently published a post on why writers would want to use a pen name. They mention a lot of reasons, including keeping your identity secret, using a shorter name that’s easier to remember, writing in multiple genres and targeting different audiences, and to use a different name from an established author who has the same name.
Other reasons could include separating personal and professional life, and even just for fun, according to Kindleprenuer.
There are many authors who have used or do use pen names, including J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain, and George Orwell. They all had different reasons, such as releasing a book without as much expectation, and writing at their own pace. Mental Floss and Early Bird Books provide more examples and background stories, for authors including Jonathan Swift, who published an almanac as a prank under the name Isaac Bickerstaff predicting the death of astrologer John Partridge, and Pablo Neruda who didn’t want his father, who didn’t approve of his interest in literature, to find out about his poetry.
Though pen names can be liberating in some senses, there are potential drawbacks, such as having to keep your secret. Though that may not be a bad thing, depending on your reason for using a pen name in the first place.
When choosing a pen name, some things to consider include having a name that sounds good, and making sure it matches your genre, according to Well-Storied. Or you can use a pen name generator, such as Reedsy’s Pen Name Generator or Masterpiece Generator.