I write fantasy humour (fantahumour, if you will) stories but I have recently written a rather different story in the form of a horror.

Naturally, I want to associate myself with both genres, but albeit indirectly in that I do not want my readers to be disappointed when they see that I have strayed from the fantahumour genre.

Are there any guidelines or useful resources/tips/techniques that you use which help choose a suitable pseudonym?

As my new story is a horror, I would like something that has a presence, a name that people will look at and think, "Wow, that's the dude who writes those awesomely-scary horror stories!".

  • 4
    Your presence or reputation will be built from your stories, not your name. "Stephen King" is not a scary name out of context; King worked hard to associate his name with horror. (Ditto "Richard Bachman," which is the pseudonym King himself chose.) Choose a pseudonym you can live with and make your books as good as possible. Commented Mar 25, 2015 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


I'm currently in the process of finding a pseudonym for myself, so I have thought a lot about this, read a lot of what other writers and knowledgeable people have to say on the subject matter, and even begun to research my pseudonym.

I'll not collect all of the arguments here, only give a summary of what I have learned and what the most common opinion is:

  1. All your writing should be under the same pseudonym. Because (a) handling more than two different personae in your email client or on conventions will be confusing and you will make errors, giving away your real identity and confusing the other party; and (b) it is difficult enough to make one writer successful, and if you have been successful you should not waste the interest of the public and start from zero with another pseudonym. For example, Robert Galbraith's new crime story sold only very slowly, until it became known that "he" was in fact J. K. Rowling, and then the sales soared. Sure, there were a few readers that complained that Rowling shocked those who expected children's fantasy, but in general her popularity boosted here sales and her well written non-fantasy gained her critical respect.

  2. You should have a good reason to choose a pseudonym at all. Maybe you must protect yourself because you want to write something that will cause attempts on your life. Or you are a priest and don't want your erotic fiction to interfer with your preaching. Or maybe your real name is difficult to remember, pronounce, spell, or simply obscene (e.g. in German the vulgar terms for the female genitals or for sex are actual last names! writing children's fiction under such a name just won't do). If your real name is good and you have nothing to hide, you might want to stick with that name, because your writing, if it is successful, fills your name with a "good sound", and even the most marketable name will sound zany on the cover of a bad novel.

  3. A good pseudonym, if you have to chose one, should sound like a real name. Musicians and porn stars are the only ones who should chose speaking names. A writer best choses a name that could be a real name, otherwise it will call out "bad book!" to the readers. Or what would you expect from an SF writer calling himself "Steve Lightsabre"? Do you expect his books to be well written? I don't. [Karin Slaughter (don't know if that's her real name) who writes thrillers is a good counter example to this recommendation.]

  4. A good pseudonym, if you have to chose one, should be easy to rember, easy to spell, look and sound good. Just like any brand name.

  5. Ideally your pseudonym is available as domain name, twitter and facebook username (and pretty URL). It should not conflict with any trademarks, copyright, or the names of other celebrities (in any field, but especially in politics) or (even unknown) writers.

  6. If you can make your own first name the first name of your pseudonym, you will get along fine in radio interviews or on conventions, because you will react to being called that. It is not good to say your name is George and then not react when someone calls you that. So just changing the last name (and maybe middle names) is a good strategy if you want to be a writer who interacts with his fans and the media.

That's all I can remember at the moment.

  • RE #1: Someone who generally writes children's stories, but decides to take a stab at pornography, might well want to use two different pseudonyms (or his real name and a pseudonym). Anyone who knew of the pornography would surely be hesitant to buy books for her children by this author, and people who had heard of the children's books and was looking for porn might think "what sort of sex novel would someone who wrote The Fuzzy Bear Goes to the Park write?" Yes, that's the extreme case, I can imagine wrestling with the question for less divergent genres.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 13:57
  • And sometimes you get outed when your publisher decides keeping the categories separate isn't a good idea after all. Though the oddest case of that I've seen is "Mira Grant writing as Seanan McGuire" -- the latter is her actual name, but the pen name hit it big first.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:28
  • @Jay If you write erotica or porn, you might want to publish this under a pseudonym even if you don't write children's fiction. Porn is something that will get you ostracized in most communities. You don't want it to be associated with you, no matter what else you do in life. So it is not a real counter example against publishing everything under one pseudonym or name, but rather it is an example of proteting your person from attempts at destroying your social life.
    – user5645
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 10:50

As Lauren Ipsum says, you'd have to build a reputation on the quality of your books, not the cleverness of a pseudonym. I suppose a well-chosen pseudonym could do SOMETHING toward a reputation. If I saw a horror story written by "Melody Sunshine" would I be less likely to buy and read it because of the totally non-horror sounding name? I don't know; it might be a small, semi-conscious factor. As What says, an over-the-top name might well just make you look silly. If I saw a horror novel by "Demon McDark" I think I'd find that more laughable than compelling. Maybe, possibly, just the right name could give the right connotations. But I think the effort you put in to selecting just the right name would be better spent writing a better novel. Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King have sold quite a few horror stories without having names that of themselves have any particular association with horror.

  • My concern lies mainly with the name merely "suiting" the genre - not selling it. Your "Melody Sunshine" and "Demon McDark" examples are wonderful, and also precisely what I am addressing with my question - if either of those names appeared on a book, I would have certainly formed an opinion before even picking the book up!
    – M.Y. David
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 14:26

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