Why I write under a pen name

After reading the Answerman column about why many manga artists prefer to stay anonymous, it got me thinking about my reason for writing under a pen name. Just to let you know that Sekina Mayu is my pen name, not my real name.

To be honest, I have no idea how I came across this name. But since I couldn’t get this name out of my mind and the happy feeling that I had when I imagined people calling me by that name, then it must be a hint that I should use this name.

Somehow, the topic about pen name reminds me of the anime Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s about a high schooler, Harumi Kazuhito who is obsessed with reading books. One day, he died when he was trying to save a woman from a robbery, only to find out that he later resurrected as a dog.

And the person who takes care of him is the woman he saved back then, Natsuno Kirihime. What surprising him even more, she happened to be his favorite author, Akiyama Shinobu. No one knows that the person behind the pen name Akiyama Shinobu is Natsuno Kirihime.

In this scenario, the only person who knows about Natsuno’s identity is only Harumi and her editor. There’s another character who knows about her identity as well, but I forgot the other character’s name since I watched this anime a long time ago.

Does Justin get it right?

I have to agree with what he said about this. It’s true that majority of the manga artists use a pen name to hide their real identity and to protect themselves from being bombarded by the otaku. Since the idea of being anonymous is also a part of their culture, then it doesn’t come as a surprise if they prefer to be known by their pen name.

While that can be the reason why they use a pen name, it may not be the case for some people such as authors and manga script writers.

For some people, they may have another professional life which may hinder their professional works if their boss or their clients found out about the creative projects. The last thing they want is for their boss or their clients to have a wrong perception about them, especially if they write erotica or BL.

If you happen to write in those genres, you never want to be open about it because you fear that people will shun your interest. After all, liking things like BL is not normal in their perspective.

In this situation, they’re most likely prefer to use a pen name as a way to hide their real identity.

Another reason for adopting a pen name is to hide their true gender. Depending on the pen name, it may be hard to distinguish whether this person is a male or female author. It’s a standard approach if they happen to write in a genre dominated by male authors and vice versa.

Natsuno’s pen name is one of the examples. From her pen name, you can’t tell whether Akiyama Shinobu is a male writer or a female writer because the name itself can be for both genders.

Why I write under a pen name

Even though The Diary of Modern Cinderella happened to be my first book I write under my pen name, it’s certainly not the very first book I write. My first book happened to be a non-fiction book which I write under my real name.

I know that some authors use their real name for both fiction and non-fiction works. But for some reason, I prefer to treat my non-fiction work and my fiction work as a separate entity.

For one, I know that those who have bought my non-fiction books may not care so much about my fiction works. It’s a different story if they happen to love the genre I write in. But for the most part, they don’t.

At the same time, it can be confusing too, especially if they happened to know me for the first time. If I use my real name on both fiction and non-fiction works, the readers may not be able to identify what kind of author I am.

To separate my fiction work from my non-fiction work, it makes sense that I will use a pen name for my fiction work.

Another reason for adopting a pen name is it’s much easier for other people to pronounce my name. Well, it’s not that my real name is hard to pronounce. So far, everybody that I come across seems to be doing fine with pronouncing my name. My real name isn’t so hard to pronounce after all.

But, it can be a mouthful to the Japanese. If you have come across an English name in katakana, you know that it can be a mouthful for them to pronounce in Japanese. And I certainly don’t enjoy that.

It may seem like I’m thinking way too far ahead. But just like the other manga artists, I also would love to see my work adapted into anime. If I’m aiming for the anime adaptation, this will also mean that I’m going to collaborate closely with the production committee and the director.

It’s already scary enough for them to work with a foreigner, let alone to work with someone whose name can be a mouthful to pronounce. While there’s no denying that I’m a gaijin author, but it’s less intimidating to call me Sekina Mayu-sensei since it’s friendlier to their tongue.

Not to mention, the seiyuu won’t have a problem pronouncing my name too.

I don’t use a pen name to be anonymous

While some manga artists may use a pen name to remain anonymous, being anonymous doesn’t sit that well with me.

For me, using a pen name to remain anonymous means I’m not proud of my work and I’m ashamed to admit that I make a living from my writing.

It doesn’t matter whether I write under a pen name or my real name, I want to be proud of my work and what I do for a living. I doubt that I can get readers to be interested in my writing if I’m hiding behind the anonymity.

As an indie author, hiding behind the anonymity is a big no-no.