Pros and Cons of Pen Names?

12 replies
Looking for thoughts on pen names. This situation is a little different than the typical pick a name for your little Kindle book.

It would involve a person with published works (digital and physical) as well as seeing clients in real life interactions.

The kicker is the person is in a licensed (healthcare) profession. So, if a pen name is used, how would you handle the license aspect? Most states have free license database searches the public can do before doing business with professionals. But the database won't list the pen name.

You'd also have a situation where a real life patient was referred to books written by the professional but the name on the office door is different than the one on the books.

How would you handle this?

Mark
#cons #names #pen #pros
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  • Profile picture of the author Monetize
    Is this some sort of a riddle?

    The whole point of using a pen name is so that nobody
    knows who authored the work.

    If the licensee is writing a professional book under a
    nom de plume they obviously aren't concerned about
    referrals or being included in the state database.

    I would handle it by explaining their options, telling
    them to decide and stop giving me a headache.
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  • Unless the Health Professional were actually treating a patient, then their license shouldn't come into it. For instance, I follow that Dr. Mike kid (in his 20s, to me he's a "kid" ) but I realize that he gives good information but I cannot use it as my own personal doctor. The idea is that he's not MY doctor and if I have questions about my own personal health, I need to ask my own health professional. I can read a good book about medical stuff or watch YouTube videos that give great information, but the only time the license would come into play is if the author or YouTube person is treating me, personally.



    The person with the pen name simply should make sure that people know that he or she is not their doctor.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    I've seen a couple books (one was a kindle book) where there is a statement in the first or second page of 'legal info' stating "Jack Jones is the pen name of Dr....blah blah".

    I'd think the legality might depend on the licensing laws in the state. If the books are providing medical advice it may be required to link the pen name to the professional. Personally, if it were my client...I'd tell him to take examples to a lawyer for a legal opinion rather than take a chance on risking his license

    If he were writing books about a totally different topic I wouldn't see a problem with pen name - ...

    But you mention he might REFER patients to the books which I think clouds the issue. If he is writing books giving advice about the profession he practices with a license....there may be regulations that would cover it.
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    • Originally Posted by Kay King View Post


      But you mention he might REFER patients to the books which I think clouds the issue. If he is writing books giving advice about the profession he practices with a license....there may be regulations that would cover it.



      I don't think so, as a book cannot be considered "someone's doctor". Yes, it can contain good information and the people reading it may be curious about the license/expertise of the author. But the authorities? They're not doing anything wrong publishing a medical book under a pen name. A book can't be a doctor.
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      • Originally Posted by Angela V. Edwards View Post

        I don't think so, as a book cannot be considered "someone's doctor". Yes, it can contain good information and the people reading it may be curious about the license/expertise of the author. But the authorities? They're not doing anything wrong publishing a medical book under a pen name. A book can't be a doctor.
        Generally I agree. However, this case is different. They are doing license required treatment. As part of their treatment, they are referring clients to books written by them.

        If they referred to just another related book on Amazon, sure that author isn't providing treatment and these professionals can say it's just a book.

        But here the book is by them so I think a licensing board, may be interested in hearing how this is not a continuation of treatment.

        It's been kind of fun digging into this, but I like to research things and find all the angles. I think the cons or possible cons may not be worth spending much more time on though.

        Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    Well what is the reason for using a alias or alternate name if the doctor want people to connect with them.

    Is their real name foreign and hard to spell or just extremely common .

    I'm more interested in why an expert/professional may not want to put their own name on a book on their expertise
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Licensing issues can be tricky - and the consequences for violating license rules can be devastating to a career. I can't judge whether it's ok or not for the 'medical professional' - my advice was for Mark to avoid giving advice on a potential legal issue.


    Personally, if it were my client...I'd tell him to take examples to a lawyer for a legal opinion rather than take a chance on risking his license
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  • The reasons why this is being considered:

    1. Safety. Seeing local people in an office is different than having a countrywide audience. During the worst of COVID, they pretty much went remote treatment only with telehealth. Now they are wanting to start marketing with books, YT channel, etc. so they will be even more well known. But, they are afraid some weirdo is going to show up at the door one day.

    2. Appearances. This is a group of professionals all with the same last name - in the office that's all right because it's a family business and everyone knows. But they think if every book or video or whatever else they may do refers to 4 different "Browns", people will think that's weird. Authors: John Brown, Suzie Brown, David Brown, and Frank Brown. So, they've thought of using their middle names as pen names so it would be John Michael instead of John Brown. They think this shows a more diverse staff.

    Mark
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    • Profile picture of the author Monetize
      Originally Posted by Mark Singletary View Post

      The reasons why this is being considered:

      1. Safety. Seeing local people in an office is different than having a countrywide audience. During the worst of COVID, they pretty much went remote treatment only with telehealth. Now they are wanting to start marketing with books, YT channel, etc. so they will be even more well known. But, they are afraid some weirdo is going to show up at the door one day.

      2. Appearances. This is a group of professionals all with the same last name - in the office that's all right because it's a family business and everyone knows. But they think if every book or video or whatever else they may do refers to 4 different "Browns", people will think that's weird. Authors: John Brown, Suzie Brown, David Brown, and Frank Brown. So, they've thought of using their middle names as pen names so it would be John Michael instead of John Brown. They think this shows a more diverse staff.

      Mark

      Where do you find these people? If they are a family business,
      let them figure it out. I just hope they aren't psychiatrists or
      psychologists or anything else dealing with people's minds.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    so they will be even more well known
    If they publish under pen names....they won't be 'more well known' - in fact they may end up competing with themselves.

    Sounds to me like they are brainstorming rather than thinking things through. They need to start with a pros and cons list and work through it.

    I wonder if they have considered creating their own 'publishing group' - using the surname as part of the business name.

    Brown, Suzie Brown, David Brown, and Frank Brow
    If all are writing - could publish under one name such as 'brown syndications' or Brown Publishing Group...If they are trying to build their brand they can't hide behind pen names entirely.

    Will be interested to know what happens with this one, Mark.
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    • Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      Sounds to me like they are brainstorming rather than thinking things through. They need to start with a pros and cons list and work through it..
      It's kind of a wild hair kind of thing since they are already established. I think COVID causing their work environment to change including losing clients has created uncertainty on a bunch of different levels.

      I think it has for a lot of people. Like people want to go back to work but still have fears or they want to continue remote work but now have to go back in the office.

      It's a reasonable question to explore in my opinion. But the cons outweigh the pros I think

      You are right about competing with themselves but at the same time years ago I heard someone boast that they had 4 of the top 10 Google results with different sites. The end user thought they were choosing but the $ all wound up in the same place.

      I like the idea of group publishing.

      Thanks to everyone for the input.

      Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author MarLion
    Pen names may make social events more difficult, especially if you forget and introduce yourself by your given name, or if you don't reply when someone addresses you by your pen name.
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