Mark Twain

Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain is one of the most famous pen names.

By Dorian Box

A difficult decision in publishing Psycho-Tropics was whether to use my real name or a pseudonym or “pen name.”

There are good reasons and bad reasons for using a pen name.  Bad reasons include thinking you can get away with libeling people or invading their privacy by hiding behind a pen name.  Good reasons may include disguising gender, switching genres, or keeping boundaries in different parts of your life.

The reasons often vary as between new self-published writers and established writers.  No point reinventing the wheel here, as many people have already explored this issue very well.  Here are some good posts on the subject:

Howard Zaharoff, A Rose by Any Other Name: Pros and Cons of Pseudonyms

Moira Allen, Should You Use a Pseudonym?

The Economist Blog, Why Do Some Writers Use Pseudonyms?

Debbie Young, Writing: Should The Self-published Author Use A Pen-Name (Pseudonym)?

My decision to use a pseudonym was based on not wanting to commingle my professional life as a college professor, which includes a lot of scholarly writing, with fiction writing.  I contacted Mr. Zaharoff, a lawyer, author of the first post listed above, for his opinion, and appreciated his good advice, which was: If your instinct tells you to use a pen name, it’s probably right to follow it.

As an aside, friends have asked, “How did you come up with Dorian Box?”

It’s a big mystery.

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