Choosing a Pen Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

–  William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet

Many authors choose to use a pen name.

Writer of The Night Manager, John le Carre’s real name is David Cornwell. J.K. Rowling added the “K” in her name to attract to a male audience and commemorate her mother. Lemony Snicket isn’t actually a real person, it’s American author Daniel Handler’s fictional alias.

There are many reasons why authors use pseudonyms. Some might want an original name, others do it for reasons around marketability. Other authors use different names when they write in separate genres so they can differentiate their works and audience. And some write with a false name as they don’t want their real name connected to their writing. There are no wrong reasons to have a pen name.

In my case, the pen name I chose has become my legal name. Not many authors have to take this step, a pen name is just a pen name after all. But due to personal and familial reasons, I chose to change my middle name to Solomon and my last name to Snow. They have become my pen name: Solomon Snow.

Why did I choose these names?

Part of it was because I liked the alliteration. It rolls off the tongue and has a certain weight to it. It’s easy to remember, and easy to market. But it took me a while to reach this conclusion.

At first, I thought of others such as S. J. Lawlor and Sebastian Sinclair, but none of them rang to me as much as Sebastian Solomon Snow. I brainstormed a long list of names and I decided that I wanted a last name that also meant something else, such as Black, Green, White, Snow. That might sound a bit strange but it’s just part of my thinking. And Snow was the one that I loved the most.

After choosing my new middle name and last name I weighed up which name I should use for my writing. My birth name of Sebastian, or my new one of Solomon. Sebastian is my name, and everybody knows me by it so I thought maybe it was right to use it in my writing as well. But then Solomon Snow stood out to me. After consoling a group of friends, most of them chose Solomon Snow too.

I’m satisfied with my pen name. Even to the extent that I am more committed and proud of my writing than ever before under this name, then my last.

So what is in a name? When it comes to writing, quite a lot.


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