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I'm close to publishing my first novel, and I have mixed feelings about using my real name. I'm not sure it's easy on the eyes, and it might seem too weird to the average reader. I was thinking of "A. Shener" instead, but I haven't seen many authors name with just one letter. enter image description here What do you guys think?

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    Will you use a traditional publisher? Or an Agent? If so, I'd ask them.
    – user54131
    Apr 20, 2022 at 16:39
  • Self publishing. Apr 20, 2022 at 17:21
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    There are a few authors with one initial, notably B Traven (Treasure of the Sierra Madre), as well as the singer J Balvin. But there's nothing to stop you adding a fake initial (JK Rowling did this; the K doesn't stand for anything) or picking a new first or last name. Having said that, this question seems very much a matter of opinion.
    – Stuart F
    Apr 20, 2022 at 21:00

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I gotta be me:

Using initials instead of your first name can certainly work - it barely qualifies as a pseudonym. Obviously if I'm here as DWKraus, I don't mind initials.

But Aviv is a perfectly good name, and in some circles can be a plus. Since you are self-publishing, you'll be doing a lot of the marketing on your own - potentially on the force of your personality and connections. I'm thinking that even posting this question with the big, bold picture is a form of self promotion. If Laurel the moderator edited the question and didn't have a problem then good instincts. You'll be more likely to sell in person (at conventions, etc.). You're more dependent on niche markets than on general promotion.

So play to what you have. It's a little ethnic, but that can be a plus in marketing as well. If you actually take off, then it may be a significant plus in international markets.

If you think you're target market is people who will potentially discriminate against someone with an ethnic-sounding name, then maybe you could use initials. With a last name of Kraus, you can't get much more German, and that doesn't play well with some people. But do you really want the business of people with those attitudes? Odds are, you didn't write it to appeal to those sensibilities, so don't bother trying.

Be true to yourself.

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The potential complication of spelling/pronouncing one's name is secondary to the quality of your book. If what you have written is good, no one will care whether or not they can pronounce your name (plus, a good quarter of readers never look at the author anyways--sad, but true)

I personally wouldn't initialize my first name. 'Aviv' is not that complicated or difficult to pronounce. Also, initializing parts of your name does not count as a penname. If you changed the name on the book from 'Aviv Shener' to 'Sloan Baker'...that would be a penname.

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As a reader, unless you are a mega star such as "Stephen King", "Isaac Asimov", I honestly can't remember. I have a bad memory for those, an an appetite for books

I've read a very good novel recently, I can't remember her author's name. I can check her on my book shelf.

I mean it. People ask me "what are you reading" and I have to admit, "I don't know their name". I mean, I can't remember, but that seems socially disapproved :( It's true though.

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  • So... should OP use a pen name or not? Are you suggesting it doesn't matter because readers won't remember their name anyway?
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 27, 2022 at 19:43
  • @F1Krazy I suppose I am suggesting the author's name means nothing in itself. "Stephen King" didn't matter when he published Carrie. Now it's world wide. My point is, I think, if you've got a good story publish under your name. No one cares about your name if the story is good. Apr 27, 2022 at 19:50
  • "Should they use a pen name" I can't answer. If their story is no good, of course. ... but as per S King, if you are such a success, also, of course..... my point I think is @op Aviv Shener should let the chips fall where they will - if they get a bad rep, blame the story not them Apr 27, 2022 at 19:52
  • I'm looking forward to reading @Aviv Shener Apr 27, 2022 at 19:53
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