First, however, I'd like to thank you for the thoughtful and supportive comments you gave when I announced I'd made the leap. I appreciate it. :)
Things to think about before switching to a pseudonym:
*It sounds obvious, but pick a name you like. You'll be the one wearing it.
*Is it easy to remember and spell? Ideally, people will be looking for your books at bookstores and libraries, and they'll be wanting to recommend your books to their friends. Make it easy on them. (I realize there are plenty of super successful authors out there with complicated names; I'm just thinking if you're coming up with a new name anyway, why pick a tricky one?)
*Is the domain name available?
*Is there another author with that name? Google it. Even if you find writers, I'm guessing it's not a problem unless they're in your genre or a similar one. For instance, I found a Dawn Simon who is a poet and one who writes medical stuff. No big deal, right? (If it is, please break it to me gently.) Since I'm YA, I also did a search at the SCBWI Web site.
*Have you guys heard that when agents or editors Google our names, it's great if we can appear on the first page--or even better, in the top spot? With my new name, that will require some serious blogging, awards, books, and other positive Internet mentions. I'm totally open to TV appearances and movie cameos, but I'm not holding my breath on those. This was a con on my pro-con pen name list. It relates to the next point. Set your angst-ometers, because you might just pick up on a little bit...
*How many people on social networks have the name you're considering? This I failed to look into until after the fact. Imagine my surprise when I learned ONE HUNDRED FORTY-SEVEN people with my pen name have Facebook accounts. You know when your heart starts beating extra fast, you get really hot, and your blood feels like it's dividing like oil and water inside your veins? Yeah, that was me a couple nights ago. The fact that I could start my own small town populated solely by people named Dawn Simon was a wee bit unnerving. Not to mention creepy. (If any of you write Twilight Zoney stuff and you'd like to take that idea, I'm willing to play one of the townspeople if you'll plug my blog and help get me to the first page of Google. Hee! I am kidding. I think.) Note to Scott Perkins: I'm feeling your pain. See, I met Scott at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, and he said there are Facebook groups of people who share his name.
*Go to a bookstore and find where your books will be shelved. Would the pen name bring you closer to eye level or farther away?
*Bounce it off someone in the industry--an agent, an editor, or a successful author.
I hope I don't sound negative--there's clearly a fun side to pen names, and I'm glad I'm trying out mine. After YA, my second love is MG, so I may end up using both names in the future. Who knows?
My point is, changing your writing name is a big deal, and you'll want to give it plenty of thought. That said, what really matters in the big picture: our writing.
the coolest pen name in the world + a story that lacks = notaheckofalot
Do you have anything to add to my list of things to consider, any places where you disagree, or any other thoughts on pen names?