Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why Do Some Authors Use a Pseudonym?

by Leeann Betts

Creating a Pseudonym


Several people have asked me “Why a pseudonym?”, so I thought perhaps more readers and authors might want to know the answer, as well. Within the Christian community, I’ve had folks who said, “Isn’t that like lying?”

The answer to the first question is perhaps easier than to the second. So I’ll start with the second.

In the Bible, we see many instances of folks being given new names. Abram became Abraham and Sarai became Sarah because God changed who they were. Jacob became Israel, which loosely translated means “one who struggles with God” because of his night-long battle with the angel of the Lord. Joseph of the Old Testament was given a new name by the Pharaoh because of his new position, and in Isaiah 62:4 we read: Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.

In Biblical times, names had a meaning, so it only makes sense that if God changes who we are in Him, it’s not lying.

How does that apply to my pen name? Well, that brings us to the answer to the first question.

I (Leeann) was created to fulfill a specific purpose, including:

  1. Donna writes historical and contemporary, and she didn’t want readers confused when they picked up one of her books as to which genre to expect.

  2. Schlachter is pretty far down the alphabet, and most people who look for books in stores or libraries tend to start at A and work their way to Z. Betts is much closer to the beginning of the alphabet.

  3. Donna wanted to experiment with voice and story-telling style, and felt that might be better accomplished through a pen name.

  4. Donna wanted to honor her mother and mother-in-law, so here’s how she did it: Lee is her husband Patrick’s middle name; Ann is her mother-in-law’s name; and Betts was her mother’s nickname in nursing school.

You will have your own reasons for creating a pseudonym. The most common reasons I’ve read about are: the desire for anonymity, the mult-genre issue, the new creation in Christ issue (if you wrote erotica, for example, in your ‘before’ life); and a desire to be somebody you just aren’t.

Please leave a comment below about your thoughts on pseudonyms. As a reader, do you feel cheated if you find out your favorite author is really a pen name?

aaaLeeann Betts_02Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, released in the fall of 2015 Book 3, Unbalanced, released in January. Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is due in April, with more planned for later dates. If you like accountants or are an accountant, check out Counting the Days: a 21-day devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk. You can follow Leeann at All books are available at in digital and print, and at in digital.

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