Do You Need a Pen Name as a Sex Writer?

The question of whether you should select a pen name (or pseudonym) tends to be a topic left most often to erotic authors. Of course, they aren’t the only ones who need to consider it. When I started my blog, I chose one because I wanted to write about my sexuality and experiences freely. The last thing I wanted was to have my innermost sexual thoughts found out by a potential employer or my mom.

If you don’t have a sex blog or an erotic writing career (yet), you may be wondering if you need a pen name. The decision is completely up to you.

The Case for Having a Pen Name

Many of us who write about sex include some of the most personal details about our life within our work. We don’t want our real name associated with our writing because we could lose our job, custody of our children, or the closeness of friends and family. Maybe it’s none of those things, and you just really prefer to maintain your privacy. If a pen name is the right thing for you, you don’t have to justify it to anyone. It’s one thing to write about sex. It’s quite another for your teenager or your boss to Google you and find it.

Having a pen name may allow you to get into character or a different mindset. You can shed your non-sexual, “vanilla” self, and write about sex more freely. I know my name does for me. I am Kayla Lords, and yet under my real name, I’m different. As Kayla, I’m freer, less inhibited, and down to discuss all kinds of kinky fuckery. Under my given name, I’m much more reserved.

Making Your Pen Name Sound Real

I’m a firm believer in creating pen names that sound like real names. Clearly, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Girl on the Net has made a great career for herself by using a name that doesn’t sound like a real name. She writes as “Girl on the Net.” Her moniker might seem strange, but that just proves her writing is excellent. Most publications want a name to go with the work, and yet they happily publish her.

So should your pen name sound real? Unless you’ve got a catchy little phrase like GOTN, for byline work the answer is probably. My name is actually a bastardization of my real name. My family would recognize me in a second if they came across it, but it works for me and makes me feel like myself. Whatever name you come up with, Google it first and make sure it doesn’t belong to another high profile person. Maybe you like like the name “Eva Longoria” but can’t remember why. One search, and you’ll be reminded.

Keeping Your Real Life Separate

If you feel the need to write under a pen name, it’s likely because you’re trying to keep your writing separate from the rest of your life. If this is you, and I strongly suspect it is, you probably want to set up social media under all those names. The one thing I regret from the early days of my blogging is not snatching up social media profiles as “Kayla Lords” from the beginning. Even if you don’t intend to use those outlets, you’ll at least control the name. For example, I had to become “kinkykaylalords” on Instagram because by the time I got around to that site, there was already another “Kayla Lords” there.

The other part to consider keeping separate is payment systems. I don’t have separate bank accounts for my vanilla life and my kinky writing life. But I do have separate PayPal accounts. Yes, I had to use my real name with my real bank account information to set it up. And yes, people who pay you will likely learn your real name. Unless you set up your pen name as a business, you’re going to have to sign contracts under your real name, too. Creating two separate identities online for yourself helps keep the rest of your life away from your sex writing one.

Having Total Anonymity

As you can tell, I’m not offering any guarantees that you can keep your real life separate. If you need total anonymity, you’re going to have to jump through hoops to make it happen. Separate phones, separate computers, separate bank accounts – you can do it, but it takes work. You’ll also want to make sure your picture or pictures of identifying features of your family never get uploaded to the internet under your pen name. Facial recognition is a real thing.

One step to take, if complete anonymity is important to you, is to set up your sex writing identity as it’s own separate business. In the United States, you can set yourself up as a DBA – doing business as – entity.  Once you’ve got a DBA, you can now set up business bank accounts. If you want to take it a step further, apply for an EIN, a tax ID number, so that nothing is associated with your social security number, either.

What if You Don’t Want a Pen Name?

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of separate names or social media accounts, don’t. If you’re loud and proud about who you are and don’t care who knows it, good for you. In a perfect world, we could all be who we are and write about our sex lives with impunity. But even then, some people will always want their privacy.

These days, I don’t need to keep my identities apart, but I choose to do it. Partly because after all these years, it feels natural. But partly because even though my family is supportive of my sex writing career, I know if my mom reads any of it, I won’t write the same way anymore. We all have our reasons for why we choose to do things, and pen names are no different. If you don’t want one, don’t have one.

Ultimately, like everything else in life, you have to do what’s right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you a pen name is required. But also don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting one, either. You know your life better than we do. Pen name or not, the writing matters most. Choose the option that works best for you and forget the rest.

Are you writing under a pen name? If so, how did you choose your current name? Does it have special meaning for you? Please share in the comments below!


Kayla Lords

Kayla Lords is a freelance sex writer, podcaster, blogger, all-around sex content creating human, and she really likes creating content. As a writer, she focuses on sex and kink primarily on BDSM and power exchange. She works with private clients to write their content and manage their social media, while also co-hosting two podcasts, running a YouTube channel, and managing multiple blogs. Let's just say, she stays busy and wants to keep it that way. Kayla is an international speaker and an award-winning sex blogger. She believes we are stronger together as a community than we are isolated and apart. We all deserve to get paid for the work we do, but until we understand our cumulative power, we'll all wonder if we're "the only one" doing this smutlancing thing.

10 Responses

  1. Mischa Eliot says:

    Pen names are hard. You want something that flows, something memorable, something easy to spell. (Do you know how many people spell Mischa wrong (even when it’s right in front of them)? Including me because I type like Kermit in that one gif?)

    I love my pen name though. I chose to spell it Mischa because it’s less-widely used from what I can tell. More often than not, you see Misha. I chose it because a coworker calls me Mischa (yes, they know I use it as my pen name, too).

    There are all kinds of pen names that aren’t names, so we aren’t limited. A simple google search will help anyone who wants to see the names that are a bit more out on the fringe.

    • Kayla Lords says:

      I really think that if you love it and it feels right, it’s the right pen name for you. If we spend too much time worrying about getting it “right,” that’s time we’re not spending on the work itself. 🙂

  2. jor Adam says:

    My writers-alias is created by shortening my nickname and using the abreviation of my place of birth, Amsterdam ( short A’dam-Adam).
    I like the sound of it, because, as a man, I could be Your Adam …

  3. toyforsir says:

    I started my blog with the title because that is my name from Daddy and I write primarily about he and I. When I start to get serious about my writing (scared to make that step) I will probably use a pen name. I have no idea what it will be but will definately keep these thoughts on mind.

  4. Misty says:

    I’m so undecided on writing under a pen name or under my real name. I’m undecided because of all the reasons you posted about, but also because I’m hoping to reach women who are afraid of their sexuality and I want to teach them how not to be. How can I do that if I’m hiding under a fake name? I’d be a hypocrite. But then again, my mom, my kids, my in-laws!

    • Kayla Lords says:

      I can understand being torn, but let me point a few things out…

      I reached you and got you thinking about writing and your pen name? Yes? I’m writing under a pen name.
      Sex bloggers reach their audiences every single day talking about some of the most personal aspects of their sex lives and most of them write under a pen name.

      A pen name is a boundary that you’re establishing. Personally, I am more myself under my pen name than I am under my legal name. There’s a freedom (for me) in being able to safeguard my personal information and then going out and sharing details of my life. I started my personal blog discussing my own burgeoning sexuality (at 32, post-divorce like MANY women do), and it was absolutely me, and I managed to reach people.

      The name you use matters very little — it’s what you share and how authentic you are when you do it.

      Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you and what feels right, but a pen name does not make you a hypocrite or a fake.

  5. Misty says:

    You are so right! It doesn’t matter what name I use, as long as I’m reaching people! Misty is my alter ego, she has less inhibitions than my usual shy self, so obviously she’s the one that should be writing.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

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