Some of the most famous authors in history have used pen names, including Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling, Lewis Carroll, and Mark Twain. When self-publishing a book, you too may want to consider using a pseudonym. Here are three reasons why.

1. Gender

In today’s society, it is hard to believe that women authors still use men’s names when publishing, but it is true. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about two female mystery writers who decided to use men’s names because they read a study showing that men prefer to read books by men. It is common for female writers to use a male name when the main character is a male or when the topic is “masculine,” such as military, science fiction, and thrillers. This helps the author connect with the readers. Think about it: would you be less likely to take a story with a female main character and a feminine topic seriously if you knew it was written by a male? Females aren’t the only ones who decide to keep their gender a secret when choosing a pen name. If you don’t want to pretend to be the opposite sex, simply choose a gender neutral pen name.

2. Privacy

Self-publishing a book can lead to stardom for successful authors, but not everyone wants their readers to know their real identity. Many people prefer to keep their personal and writing lives separate. This is especially true for authors whose two lives contradict each other. For instance, an elementary school teacher may not want her students and their parents to know that she writes racy romance novels in her free time. Choosing a pen name allows you take on a different persona when you write and promote your book.

3. Legal Issues

Unfortunately, there are lsometimes egal issues that go along with self-publishing a book. If you are writing about real life events or people, you could find yourself in court if you don’t get proper permission from the people in the story or if the details aren’t 100% accurate. To avoid legal issues, use a pen name to protect your identity. Also, if you want to write a book based on your life, only call it a memoir only if it is 100% accurate. If you change events to make a better story, it is fiction.

I’d love to know, would you ever use a pen name? Why or why not?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.