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Considering Pen Names

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I read an article from J. F. Penn talking about her pen name. She had recently changed it from Joanna Penn to the more gender neutral J. F. Penn. Now, I’m not going to rehash her post about whether or not females are viewed differently in certain genres. I want to talk about the use of a pen name in general.

It is something I’ve been struggling with myself. Currently, I’m using my real name. But I’ve gone through different iterations on that name. So far, nothing has really stuck out to me. I have also never felt that my name carried by of a presence. I eventually landed on using Jeffrey N. Baker because, at the time of graduation, I needed to have a website. After much trying, the only domain I could register was www.jeffreynbaker.com.

But what a mouth full. Even when trying to fit it on a book cover it gets a bit dicey. So I’ve played with different forms. They are as follows:

  • Jeff Baker
  • J. N. Baker
  • Jeff Neal
  • Jeffrey Neal
  • J. B. Neal
  • Neal Baker
  • N. Baker

But none of them really stuck out to me. Then on the ride home today, one jumped out at me that I couldn’t believe I missed. J. Neal. I liked it. It’s simple and solid. Easy to say. But then a new problem hit me. I’ve already started to build up something around the name Jeffrey N. Baker. Does that mean I’m too late? On one hand, I’m by far from being well known or established. So it may go largely unnoticed.  But on the other, would I be reversing whatever progress I’ve made up to this point?

So I put it to you. What is in a pen name? What are your thoughts on them? What do you think about the ones I’ve mentioned above? Do you think I could get away with changing it to J. Neal? Or should I power on with Jeffrey N. Baker, and be known as the author with that really long name?

Leave your comments and suggestions. It has always been a subject that interested me and I’d like to hear what others think.

Though, if the writing is good, the name shouldn’t matter. Right? Write


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