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Can you write an ebook under a pseudonym?

Writing an ebook under a pseudonym (also called a pen name, alias, nickname, handle or non de plume) is acceptable most of the time.

The real answer is “it depends”.

It depends mostly on what the topic of your ebook is going to be about. I said above “most of the time” it’s fine to use a false name or pen name to publish an ebook because the occasions where it’s not acceptable (and sometimes not even legal) are limited but still very important to understand.

Firstly, what exactly is a pseudonym? Is it just a pretend name, or is there more to it?

At its most basic a pseudonym is simply a fictitious name that you make up and use as the author of your writing. Whether it be an ebook or an article on a website.

The world’s most famous author uses a partial pseudonym for her work, and she is known by that name by millions of people. J. K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, is called Joanne Rowling in real life. Of course, her pen name is very similar to her real name as it’s just her initials, but before she became one of the best selling authors ever her nickname would have hidden her identity very well.

There’s more to J.K Rowling and pseudonyms than just using her initials though. Few people know she has written other books under a completely different name – a male name called Robert Galbraith. It was a completely different type of novel and allowed Rowling to experience creative freedom away from her Harry Potter success.

I give this example because it’s simple: if one of the biggest authors on Earth can use a pen name at times, we can all do it.

It’s perfectly fine to use a pen name when you are writing content that doesn’t require you to be qualified. In other words: you can’t pretend to be a doctor and write about medical topics.

You should not pretend to be a lawyer and write under a fake name about legal topics, because people want to know as much about the author of medical and legal ebooks and articles as they do about the content itself.

So provided your ebook topic is one that does not require legal authoritativeness to publish (such as medical or legal content), then using a pseudonym/false name/pen name is perfectly fine.

Many, many people are writing ebooks under pen names – and they’re also writing website content under pseudonyms.

Pseudonyms vs Personas

A pseudonym is basically just a name with no other information attached. If you’re writing an ebook, you are most likely going to want to create more than just a name.

Your pen name will become an entire person with a personality, interests, opinions and experiences. This is the process of creating a persona, and it goes a lot further than just creating a nickname for your ebook.

It allows your readers and potential readers to get to know and trust you as the author. Your written experience and personality may very well mirror that of your real life, but you are just choosing to write under a different name.

Photo for your ebook pseudonym

Not long ago ebook publishers would have to use a stock photograph to go with the pen name – but this runs the high risk of your photo being unoriginal and almost certainly being used elsewhere. This does your credibility no good at all.

These days the wonders of AI technology has reached far and and wide, and now includes generation of human portrait photos that aren’t actually real people, but absolutely appear real.

This is done through complex machine learning algorithms that combine multiple photos of different people to generate an imagine of a completely unique – and non existent face.

One that you can use with your ebook pseudonym. One of the best free face/photo generators is found at Every generated photo there is unique and no two “people” will ever appear the same. Including a realistic photo will make your persona creation that much more authentic.

Is a pseudonym a fake name?

Yes, essentially a pseudonym is simply a fake name. It's a name you make up or generate to use as the author of work you publish, instead of using your real name. This can be done to protect your identity for personal reasons, or simply to give yourself the creative freedom to write in ways, or about things, that you might not normally do under your real name.

Is it legal to use a pseudonym?

Yes it is legal to use a pen name to publish ebooks, website content and other publications - provided you are not impersonating a doctor, legal professional or other qualified individual. You can even copyright your pen name if you want to legally protect your intellectual property.

When shouldn't you use a pseudonym?

Ebook authors and other publishers can use pen names with success, but if you intend to hold in person meetings, seminars or consultations with your readers then using a pseudonym can become more complicated (both legally and ethically). Most ebook writers are content with remaining publishers only and in these cases using a pseudonym is a perfectly reasonable choice to make.