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Guide to Using a Pen Name

Guest post by Roxanne Rhoads. Her latest book, Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours, is available now on Amazon for only 99 cents. A review of the book follows the guest post.

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Many, many professional writers use pen names. Kim Harrison and Nora Roberts are two NYT Bestselling Authors that instantly come to mind.

For years I wrote under both my real name and a pen name. At times it was really confusing, especially in the beginning when I had no idea when I should use both names and when I should just use my pen name.

Throughout the years of operating Fang-tastic Books, a book review and promotion site for paranormal authors, I found that many new writers are just as confused as I was in the beginning.

One time an author, who is man but writes as a woman, sent me all his promo info for his book under his pen name and his bio under his real name. His email and web sites were also under his real name. So I assumed that he had no problem with both names being used to promote his book (since he didn’t specify otherwise). As a reviewer and promoter I publish what authors send me, I don’t change their words except for misspellings.

Well, the author contacted me a few days later very upset because I used his real name and the pen name. I explained to him the problem and suggested a few ways to stop any confusion in the future.

The things I suggested to him are ways to keep writing names separate while making your professional life much easier.

First of all, set up an email account in your pen name. Many email servers like gmail offer this for free. Use this email account for all writing transactions and submissions under your pen name.

Create a signature line for your email. For a long time I wondered after I sent an email if I accidentally signed the wrong name. Now I use signatures with my email accounts that include my name, email address, and web addresses so I never have to worry about signing the wrong name.

Create a bio for your pen name. This bio should not include any writing credits, jobs, degrees or memberships that are under any other name. When someone tries to verify the info in your bio and can’t find anything under your pen name you’ll look like a liar. So keep your names and bios separate unless you have no problem with both names being linked or being public knowledge. Some authors use different pen names for different genres, not because they are “hiding” or trying to keep their real name from the public eye. In that case you can include something like this at the end of your bio: “Suzanne Case also writes as Susannah Monroe”.

Set up separate social media accounts for your pen name. That way all your promotion can be done through those networking sites under that name alone. This is extremely helpful when you want to remain anonymous plus it helps build your author brand. You want to build an author brand, not a book brand.

Set up a blog using only your pen name. This is extremely easy to do, especially with Blogger, WordPress or Weebly and it will help with promotion as you can publish all your book covers and publishing information on the blog, entertain readers and draw people in. Try to get the URL with your pen name in it, such as or grab a custom domain name from and point your blog to the domain

The last and most important thing to remember when using a pen name…don’t ever give anyone your real name unless absolutely necessary. Book reviewers, bloggers, book promoters- none of these people have any reason to know your real name. Publishers and agents are the only ones that ever need to know your real name and sometimes there are ways around that as well.

In some localities you can file a DBA (doing business as) under your pen name. This is the same as filing for a business name. Some cities/counties/states won’t allow you to file a DBA under a person’s name while others do. If you can, this will allow you to legally use that name for all transactions. You can even open a bank account using your business/pen name. To get around the use of a social security number you can file for a taxpayer id number.

The only drawback to going this route is that it leaves a paper trail that anyone can have access to if they know where to look but you won’t have to give your real name to publishers, editors or agents.

Decide which route works best for you then stick to your guns and keep your names as far away from each other as possible.


First, as some of you may have noticed, I’ve hosted blog posts organized by Bewitching Book Tours, Roxanne Rhode’s company. I’ve also used her to host my own tours, because I admired how well-organized her tour company is.

That said, I was somewhat skeptical that a “Quick Tips for Authors” book would have anything to offer me. I spend more time than I should surfing the Interwebs for how-tos on book promotion, book blogging, contests and tours.

Happily, I was wrong. This book may be brief, but it is jam-packed with useful tips that had be scrambling for my calendar. And the conciseness is frankly another selling point for a busy authorpreneur. Who has time to wade through a bunch of fluff? Not me. And Roxanne doesn’t our time with that — she gets straight to the business of book tours.

Want to run your own tour? No problem. The book provides advice on DIY’ers as well. From lists of blog ideas (skewed toward paranormal authors, natch) to the legal in’s and out’s of using images, Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours has something for novices and old hands like myself. And I believe her branding advice was spot on.

Five stars.

Secrets of Successful Book ToursSecrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

Quick Tips for Authors Guide

Roxanne Rhoads

Book Description:

Are you considering a virtual book tour?

Not sure where to start or exactly what an online tour will entail?

Roxanne Rhoads, book publicist and owner of Bewitching Book Tours, shares her virtual tour expertise in this Quick Tips for Authors Guide.

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours will guide you in utilizing the best marketing tool available- a virtual book tour, which can create online exposure for your book, jumpstart your book sales, help build your author brand, and expand your network.

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • what you should do before a tour
  • the components of a great author website
  • the best social media outlets for authors to utilize
  • tips for building your author brand
  • how to write great guest blogs
  • what to expect from an online book tour
  • the secrets of successful book tours
  • how to schedule your own virtual book tour

And you’ll receive in-depth details about what to do during a virtual book tour to guarantee success.

Amazon    BN    Kobo    Scribd    iBooks

Smashwords    Inktera     Createspace

About the Author:

Roxanne Rhoads has been working in the world of online book promotion since 2005. She has worked as a freelance writer, author, book reviewer, book blogger, editor, self-publisher and book publicist. She has a unique advantage of knowing how multiple sides of book publishing and promotion operate.

Roxanne understands how book bloggers work and what they want to make their jobs easier while also understanding that authors need promotion to be streamlined, easy, and less time consuming.

Roxanne shares some of her knowledge in her latest release, Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours.

Author Website

Bewitching Book Tours

Bewitching Blog

Twitter @RoxanneRhoads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours by Roxanne Rhoads

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

by Roxanne Rhoads

Giveaway ends March 28, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


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