Our names are so important to who we are. Your parents spent time picking your name; if you have children you did the same (probably). You spend time wonder whether the name you picked for your character fits them. So why don’t authors give the same time and attention to picking their pen name?
I can totally understand not wanting to be another Jane/John Doe. I can completely 100% understand not feeling comfortable using your legal name while writing erotic romance/erotica/BDSM. But what I can’t understand is picking a name that will make it difficult for readers/editors/publishers to find you OR address you by name in an interview or at a conference.
Think about it. The last time you heard about book x/y/z but all you could remember was the author’s name BUT you couldn’t find it. It was a bit frustrating I’m sure. The name could have been the easiest one – John Smith but if the author got creative in the spelling (beyond John vs Jon)? They just lost a sale.
Remember to also, after you’ve chosen your pen name, establish an email address that is associated with your pen name only. Something professional that is easy for everyone to know it belongs to you and not the email address you’ve been using forever. You know the ones I’m talking about *firstname.lastname@example.org*cough*
There have been discussions both in the m/m community and the romance community at large about the use of pen names. Is it bad? No – so long as you’re honest about yourself while using that. What do I mean by that? Don’t choose a male name (or a female if you’re male) and then PRETEND you are fill-in-the-blank (gay man, straight woman, etc.) and giving out advice about everything and anything as if you’re an expert. Now, I’m not saying that you need to share your youngest’s report card or your oldest’s prom picture (you can if you want) but it’s okay to keep personal details personal as long as you’re not deceiving others while doing it.
So as you’ve finished your manuscript and are polishing it to submit to a publisher (or thinking about a new pen name writing in a different genre), take some time to think about your pen name and choose wisely.