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!