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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > January 2016 > The business of writing: New year, new you, new pseudonym

The business of writing: New year, new you, new pseudonym

Is there a business case for using a pen name? Simon Whaley chats to three writers about the pros and cons of a split writing personality.

My name is Simon Whaley, and that’s the name I write under. Although there was that time when I entered the National Association of Writers’ Groups’ minitale competition and I had to use a pseudonym (entries had to be judged anonymously). So, for a couple of hours, I became Milo Swahney. I used an anagram of my real name on that occasion because when I entered the competition the previous year I’d used my porn-star name. Suffice to say that was memorable for the wrong reasons, and I had to come up with something different.

One of the most frequently asked questions new writing students put to me is whether they should use a pseudonym. It’s as though getting the right author name is more important than writing something in the first place. Many get hung up on the myths and mysteries of why certain writers chose to write under specific names. Did JK Rowling use initials to hide her gender? Did JK Rowling write her Cormorant Strike novels under the name of Robert Galbraith to separate them from her Harry Potter novels? There are many reasons why writers use pseudonyms, but the best reasons are when there’s a clear business case for doing so.

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