What’s in a Pen Name?

THIS POST IS FOR READERS and WRITERS:

You know me here as Lane Diamond, but my real name is Dave Lane. So why did I decide to write (and edit and publish) under a pen name?

When I first prepared to shop my first book around to literary agents back in 2008, I did what every author in that situation should do: I searched the internet for anyone else who’d published with the same name as mine. Why? Because every author should be unique. Many actors use screen names for precisely the same reason: you don’t want to be confused with another actor, or in my case, with another author. When people search on my “name” as an author, I want them to find my work, not someone else’s.

In my case, there were a few too many Dave Lanes out there in the internet world and publishing world. One of them was some knucklehead aryan race white supremacist out of the UK who’d published several books. Yeah, just what I needed: to be confused with that guy.

So it was settled: I needed a pen name. Now, what should I use? Well, I’d long been known by my nickname of Diamond, which went back to my old band and karaoke days (shortened from Diamond Dave), so it made sense to me to incorporate that. Dave Diamond? Taken. Diamond Dave? Taken rather aggressively by David Lee Roth, formerly of Van Halen. Diamond Lane? Nah, that just sounds off, since Diamond is more of a last name and… wait a second…. Lane Diamond?

And there you have it. You won’t find any others, unless you happen to be looking at an engagement ring, in which case you might purchase a [Neil] Lane diamond. As far as individuals go, I think I cornered the market. That means if you search my pen name in some combination with literary, book, author, writer, editor, publisher, etc, you’re going to find me. Perfect.

Are you an aspiring author? Is your name John Smith, or Jane Doe, or… eek!… Stephen King or Kathy Reichs? Yeah, then you need a pen name. The most important consideration in picking one is NOT some hidden, special meaning to you. It is uniqueness. Period. If you happen to be able to get both, as I did, then good for you.

Oh, and as far as using as a title for your book the same one that’s been used a dozen times by others? …well, that’s for another discussion.

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