Pen Names vs Real Names

I write non-fiction under my real name and fiction under my pen name. I am not the first person to do so. The question of why came up at a recent fair where I was displaying my books for sale.

Perhaps it’s my perception, but it comes down to credibility. Having been a journalist, I’ve always felt that when a journalist also publishes novels, it in some ways diminishes their credibility. This is far from the truth. I’ve said it elsewhere, but fiction writing is a lot harder than it looks.

I can name two authors who have also done something similar. J K Rowling wrote other novels under a pen name. Those novels were more for an adult market. I don’t know the full reasoning for it, but I wonder if she felt she would have more credibility as an author of such books if she wrote under a different name. These novels were for a vastly different market than the Harry Potter books.

Horror writer Stephen King also published books under another name. His reasoning, according to Wikipedia, was to see if his success could be attributed to talent or luck.

I enjoy writing fiction, but there are times when I miss being a journalist. I will freely admit to the fiction writing to anyone who asks, as I’m proud of what I have achieved.

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