I've been asked lately by a few new writers why I chose to write under a pen name and how I came up with it.
There are lots of reasons to consider a pen name if you're a writer. Privacy was a large consideration of mine. After all, I have aspirations of being a NYT bestseller eventually. ;) I also wanted a separation between my writing career and my day job and a certain degree of anonymity because of the steaminess of some of my books. I find that "Jami Davenport" can be a different person, and that's a hoot.
After making the decision to have a pen name, here's how I picked one. Jami was a no-brainer. My father's name was James. My parents had wanted to name me "Jami," but my sister liked a different name, so my non-writing name is something else. Some people pick a first name that means something to them or that they've always liked. Some pick a first name to reflect what they write like "Faith"for an inspirational writer or "Scarlett" for an erotic writer. A historical writer might choose a more traditional name. Your name should somewhat match your genre because people have pre-conceived notions regarding certain names.
Choosing a last name was more difficult. I got out a family tree, wrote down some of the last names I liked, and went to a couple bookstores. I checked out where I'd be placed on the shelves. I wanted to be next to some good authors that would attract customers to that area on the shelves. I also wanted to be near the beginning of the alphabet. When I'm browsing, I start at the beginning and usually don't get to the end before I find a book. I also did a Google search to see if anyone else was using my pen name so I searched for pen name+author.
Warning: The Google search should be the last thing you do. Be prepared to buy your domain name soon after doing a search, as searches can be monitored and you may find it bought by someone else who wants to charge you a fortune to use it. This is a common practice.
Davenport was the last name of a great-great grandfather of mine. I chose that last name based on the above criteria. I wanted my last name to mean something to me and be a reflection of my roots.
Whatever you do, I'd avoid cheesy or overly ridiculous names. I find that a lot of erotic romance authors really go overboard on their pen names, just check out the average erotic publisher's author list. You'll see what I mean.
If you're a writer with a pen name or an aspiring writer, how did you choose your pen name?