Pen Names: How To Support Your Fiction Writing Career With Another Writing Career


If being a fiction author is your dream, you already know that part of the reality is having a side hustle that pays the bills while you’re working on pitching your manuscript to different publishers. Some authors, however, decided that their day job would be the same as their dream job—just under a different name. Writing under a pseudonym allows authors to explore different voices and styles.

Want to start writing under a pen name before your magnum opus hits the shelves? Draw inspiration from these three authors who write under more than one name.

Lemony Snicket: Writing for Children and Grown-Ups

You might know the author Daniel Handler better as Lemony Snicket, the mastermind behind award-winning children’s series “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which follows a trio of orphans on innumerable misadventures. Daniel Handler was inspired to develop Snicket as a pen name while he was researching his first novel, “The Basic Eight.”

Richard Bachman: Writing More Books

Conventional wisdom once held that publishing more than one book by the same author each year would oversaturate the market and lead to lower sales. Best-selling author Stephen King, dismayed at this prospect of limited literary output, came up with a way around that rule: He would write another horror each year as Richard Bachman. Shrewd readers noticed the similarities between Bachman and King’s writing styles, though, and the pen name quickly lost its usefulness.

Mary Westmacott: Writing for Another Audience

Agatha Christie, the queen of crime novels, had a penchant for another genre as well: romance. To avoid diluting her reputation as a mystery author, Christie wrote her romance novels under Westmacott’s name. The intrigue she wrote about as Christie might have paid off; unlike King, her pen name stayed a secret to readers for close to twenty years.

Being a writer isn’t just about writing! As these authors understood, it’s also about managing your brand. If you want to branch into a different genre of fiction to support the writing that’s more meaningful to you, try writing under a pen name to develop a different market.

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