When I first imagined following in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling, I didn’t imagine covering my identity with an alias. As I grow older, the idea of donning a new name appeals to me more and more. You get to make up any ol’ name that you want. Invention is a tool for writers, after all. Mark Twain. Robert Galbraith. George Eliot… KC Pane.
My pen name, KC Pane, or Karen Craig Pane, and its origins, serve to answer several questions.
Karen Craig Pane is an anagram for my real name, Gina Renae Kopcrak. I know what you’re thinking: omg, Voldemort did that. I can assure you that the fun of rearranging the letters in your name does not extend solely to literary villains. It’s fun to create a real-life puzzle.
Where did my pen name come from? I had a male friend in high school named KC. I always liked the name. It stood for Kristopher. To me, KC is gender ambiguous. I read a depressing Jezebel article about male authors garnering more attention than females when pitching books. I don’t think that it is necessarily the case, but I do think that general male readers would have a subliminal pull toward male authorship. Upfront, KC could be either. Though upon inspection, I want it clear to readers that I am female, hence “Karen.” However, I did leave “Craig” in the middle… I can’t rearrange the letters in any coherent, female way. Graci, Ragic, and Iracg don’t do anything for me.*
Who’s who? I write multiple genres. My main genre is YA Fantasy, of course. However, I am working on a nonfiction book. I would like my imaginary name to connect to my imaginary worlds, and my actual name to be connected to the real life stories that I tell. V.E. Schwab has different pen names for different audiences. It’s apropos to have your name represent a bit of what you do. There’s little crossover of fantasy readers and memoir, so I have different names for both.
You did what? I spammed the entire publishing world 3 years ago, with my terrible first novel under my real name. I don’t know if agents keep track of this. I have this wild paranoia that their inboxes keep track of such things. I don’t want to be discredited for my new book because I (most likely) queried this agent with the first book I ever wrote.
And that’s it! If you’re considering a pen name, they’re all the rage these days. But you should probably be careful about creating fake accounts, etc.. Just pick one. My Twitter includes my real name, but is listed as “KC Pane.”
Post-thought: J.K. Rowling writes crime under Robert Galbraith, but I always wondered if she has other secret writing identities as well…
*Graci isn’t too bad, but I don’t like the spelling.