Should You Use Pseudonym by Shana Galen

I'm happy to welcome Shana Galen to SlingWords. Shana is the author of numerous fast-paced adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne's Bride.

Her books have been sold worldwide and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. Shana, once an English teacher in Houston's inner city, is now a full time writer. She's also a wife, a mother, and, in her own words, "an expert multi-tasker."

Shana's latest release is The Rogue Pirate's Bride. Gorgeous cover, isn't it?

You can find Shana on Facebook and also at Jaunty Quills. Now, please welcome my friend Shana Galen.

Why Use a Pseudonym?
By Shana Galen

One of the first decisions a new author must make when she sells is whether or not to write under a pen name. When I sold, I was more or less told I would have to write my historical romances under a pseudonym. I was also told I could write under my real name for my chick lits. So I've been on both sides of the fence.

Let's start with the assumption that when you sell, you will have a choice. Why do so many authors choose to write using a pen name? Ask three authors and you'll get three different responses. The most typical response has to do with privacy concerns.


Your day job might be a factor in whether or not you use a pen name. Since I was teaching in a middle school at the time of my sale, I didn't mind using a pseudonym and neither did my employers. School administrators do prefer that romance writers use pseudonyms. They don't want to deal with parental complaints over material that might be considered "objectionable."

Since I've never used my married name on a book, none of my students or their parents were aware that the seventh grade English teacher had published books. It was lovely not to deal with unhappy parents-if any really would have cared-but since I did teach writing, it was frustrating to have to be so careful not to blatantly use my own experiences as a writer in the classroom.

Sometimes family concerns are an issue. Perhaps you have a husband or wife in a career where advancement might be hampered by the boss's judgmental opinions. If you have children, as I do, you might also consider maintaining their privacy through the use of a pen name. We all know there are crazy people out there, and we are responsible for protecting our families.

Keeping business and private life separate is another factor to consider. It's much easier to do if you have a separate email for your author correspondence and a separate author page on Facebook. I know authors who mixed the two and then had to go back and make changes because they didn't want fans to know all of their personal information.


Like me, authors choose to write different types of books under different names. This can be a tricky decision because it makes cross-promotion difficult. But some authors feel like the books are different enough that different names are required to brand the book and let the reader know what she is buying.

This differentiation is particularly important if you write both young adult and adult novels. Kids may choose to read your work under all of your pen names, but parents will appreciate the clarity of knowing the content of one book is geared for kids, while the content of another is not.

Of course, many authors only write one type of book. If privacy is not a concern, your name itself might be.

What's in a Name?

My real name, Shane Bolks, is not a very romantic-sounding name, so I was not surprised when my editor asked me to change it on my historical romances. From a marketing standpoint, a "Shane Bolks" can hardly compete on a historical romance shelf littered with names like Johanna Lindsey and Julia Quinn. Some names just sound more romantic.

I didn't have a name in mind when I was told to adopt a pseudonym. I told my editor I wanted to be shelved between Gabaldon and Garwood. She came back with Shana (a variation of Shane) and Galen, which fits nicely between two of my favorite authors.

It is strange to see a name other than your own on your book, and there's a certain thrill when you see your real name on that bookstore shelf. I must admit that seeing Shane Bolks on the cover of my now defunct chick lits did make me feel a little bit exposed. Now that I'm married, Shane Bolks has also become a pen name, and I find I like it that way. I prefer a division between business and personal. In the end, this is a decision that always comes back to personal preference.

Are you considering using a pseudonym? Why or why not? What factors influence your decision? I'll be checking in all day and would love to read your comments. One person who comments will be randomly chosen to win a signed copy of my latest release, The Rogue Pirate's Bride.

Takeaway Truth

The generosity of authors in sharing their knowledge always amazes me. I hope you will thank Shana by putting her on your "to be read" list.

P. S. Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Rogue Pirate's Bride.


  1. Thanks for having me today, Joan!I'll be checking in all day.

  2. Not a writer- a voracious reader- but I think using different author names for different genres is a good idea. picking up a book by a favorite author and finding out that it's a sci-fi or highly erotic when I was expecting something else is a disappointment.

  3. Great point, Sheila. The last thing any author wants to do is disappoint a reader.

  4. So happy to meet you again shana :). Though this is the last books but I hope this is not the last of your blogging :). Always enjoys your story . I am agree pseudonym is good. It is important and it helps to separate personal life and the professional life :), Aretha zhen, arethazhenATrocketmailDOTCOM

  5. Aretha, it's not the end of my blogging. I blog regularly with the Jaunty Quills, the Sourcebooks Casablanca authors, and Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. Thanks for stopping in at so many of my blogs!

  6. when i look at a book, i usually use the author name to guess what genre is it. so i agree with the use of pseudonym, beside the fact that it'll help to keep your private life private, it'll help us, reader, to see what kind of book is that. will it be paranormal, historical, contemporary or else.

  7. Hi Shana, Loved Lord and Lady Spy and have this one on my wish list. I love Historical Romance with suspense and your books are just right for me. Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.
    If I do ever publish I would use my first and middle name instead of maiden or last name. Keeps folks guessing who you are. lol I keep following you and hope to win your book.

    Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  8. Never really thought about Pseudonyms. Do you feel that more authors do this than not? It makes sense, especially with being a teacher. Parent-teacher conferences would have been difficult~ "I just read your book, can you sign it, to heck with Jr's grades, I want to talk about "The making of a Gentleman"...
    Anyway, enjoyed "The Making of a Gentleman" "Lord and Lady Spy" is sitting on my shelf in line to be read. The Rogue Pirate is on my "to buy" list.
    How do you feel about your books being categorized as "chick lit". Just curious. Romance Novels have been met with such skepticism and criticism, I wasn't sure how you liked this category.

  9. Very interesting post, Shana! As a matter of fact, I am using a pseudonym right now! I use the name Kanya Chhet for all my activities involving romance (facebook, blogs, etc.). I write books for children under my real name and I don't want it to be associated with my personnal interest for romance.
    Since I already won your wonderful book (got it yesterday in my mail!!), I'm not entering the giveaway.
    Thanks for the tour. It's been a blast!
    Kanya ;)

  10. Good morning, Shana. Thanks again for being my guest star today. It was my pleasure to have you on SlingWords.

    Frankly, if I were starting out again, I'd use a pseudonym to provide that bit of separation between the real world and me. That's even more important since the Internet makes privacy--and security--just about impossible.

    But I was published back in the covered wagon era or so it seems since the Internet was just a weird collection of linked bulletin boards and DOS commands enabled one to communicate with other computer users.

  11. Hi Shana -

    As a reader not a writer I enjoy finding out about the process a writer must go thru to get a book into print so I really enjoyed your interview and thoughts.

    Everyone in my family are readers from the youngest grandchild who is 2 to my 84 year old mother-in-law who we forced to read by continually giving her books as gifts!

    I still have nightmares of a creative writing course that was mandatory in my High School back in the 1960's. My teacher took me aside shortly before the end of the course and suggested if I ever wanted to write to think of sticking to editorials or news.

    I actually did get a summer job that year at the local newspaper but as a proof-reader! Since I'm totally lacking the "creativity" gene I admire writers as pure geniuses.

    I can't imagine being able to not only come up with a great idea for a story and characters that seamlessly fill their roles but then to also keep everythings historically accurate and interesting!

    My hats off to all the authors out their who are generous enought to share their wonderful stories to those of us who love to read.

  12. Jeanne M said, "My hats off to all the authors out their who are generous enought to share their wonderful stories to those of us who love to read."

    I'm always gratified by the generosity of authors who share their time and insight.

    I--like all authors--am a reader too. I get excited just like you when I have the chance to see the inner workings of an author I admire.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  13. My pen name is my first and middle name because not only because my last name unromantic, but it's incredibly common and boring...which is why my mom named me "Brooklyn" in the first place. It seemed to be effective because when I got the call, my editor asked doubtfully, "Is that your REAL name?"

    I have two other series besides my historical paranormal one, but all fall under the romance genre, so I'm still unsure as to whether I'll need a separate pen name for those.

  14. I found this very interesting as, just this week, I've been in the process of working with my new editor to choose a pseudonym. It's a difficult thing to do. But I'll be writing my new contemporary Western series as Lynnette Austin.

  15. Brooklyn Ann ... Love your name! That's one that doesn't get forgotten. It's kind of like you were predestined to be an author!

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  16. Lynnette Hallberg ... I can see Lynnette Austin on the cover of a contemp Western. The Austin, of course, makes me think of Austin, TX.

    Good choice.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting, and good luck with your new series.

  17. Sienny, that's a good point. The author's name often becomes his or her brand. Thanks for stopping by!

    Thanks, misskallie! I've seen a few authors using their first and middle names for their pseudonyms. I like that.

    Christine, LOL! I wish parent conferences would go like that. More likely, it would be, "how can you write sex scenes and teach my child?" I never minded being categorized as chick lit. Romance readers are the best of any genre. They don't care what other people say.

    Very smart move, Kanya! And congrats on winning TRPB. I hope you enjoy it.

    Joan, I remember when the internet was like that. Who would have thought it would become so essential?

  18. Thanks, Jeanne. That wasn't very nice of your creative writing teacher. She could have just not said anything. I may have the writing creativity gene, but I don't have it elsewhere. Any kind of craft or home improvement project, even cooking, is difficult for me.

    Brooklyn, Ann, I wondered if Ann was your last name or middle name. I can totally hear Deb asking you if that was your real name. LOL!

    Lynette, I think that's a great name for a western-themed writer.

  19. I'm a reader not a professional writer but, if I was, I would probably use a pseudonym since my name isn't particularly glamorous or anything. I think different names for different genres of books is fine.


  20. This was very interesting, as it makes me thinking you already lived Sophia's life while teaching middle school. Teacher by day, and secret agent writer by early morning or late night. Never realized your name was between Gabaldon and Garwood, which seems like a rather brilliant choice of location.

    I don't need to be in the book drawing either, as I own and love The Rogue Pirates Bride.

  21. Kelli, I don't think Shana is very glamorous, but it can be fun to have a pen name. Sometimes I do forget who I am, though, and answer the phone as Shana or sign it on forms.

    Gayle, that's where I got the inspiration for LORD AND LADY SPY--my own life. Disciplining students and assigning killer detentions by day, kicking word count butt at night. The adventure!

  22. ShanaGalen... It's been a great day! Thanks again for visiting SlingWords.

    Best wishes for mega sales of The Rogue Pirate's Bride!

  23. Thanks for having me, Joan! Please randomly choose a winner and let me know who it is. And thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented!

  24. Good evening! If you'd like to make a comment about Shana's blog post, her books, or just say hello, go right ahead.

    However, Comments are closed as far as selecting a Commentator to receive a free copy of The Rogue Pirate's Bride.

    The winner will be announced tomorrow. Thanks to all who visited and commented!

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  25. The winner of a copy of The Rogue Pirate's Bride by Shana Galen is

    Gayle Cochrane

    Gayle, either Shana or I will be contacting you directly.