What’s in a name?

Jane Bidder / Sophie King / Janey Fraser whose new book The Playgroup is published by Random House.


Many years ago, I was plain Jane Thomas. Until, that is, I was 22. I then got married (very young) and became Jane Bidder. It was on the strength of that name, that I became a journalist for the next twenty odd years. However, I then started writing novels and my agent suggested I took a pen name in order to distinguish my fiction from non-fiction. So I chose Sophie King as it had family connections. Several years on, I have a new publisher – who wanted a new name. I am now Janie Fraser! Close friends and family call me ‘Janey’ anyway and the publishers chose Fraser as it is a strong-sounding name, reflecting my half-Scottish roots.  But I have another name too….I got married three years ago so on my bank book, I am Jane Corry – which I have used in my new historical novel THE PEARLS which is being published in Germany this year and was number eight in Italy last year.

Confusing? Well, yes it is a bit. But it’s better than not being published at all. The truth is that a new name can give you a new start. It can mean to an increased promotional spending budget by publishers. It can allow you to write in a different genre too. Readers expect more of the same from a name so will be surprised if a romance writer suddenly produces thrillers.From a psychological point of view, it can give you a spring in your writing. As Janey Fraser, I feel quite bright and light!

Legally, it’s wise to check that no one else has the same name that you pick for yourself. It’s also a good idea to find a name that has family connections. Somehow it gives you more of a credence. Make sure too, that your pen name is clear and memorable; not something that is prone to misinterpretation. And do set up a separate Facebook and Twitter and website for your new persona.

You don’t need to register your name or even tell a potential agent or publisher that it is your pen name. Wait instead, until you’ve got your deal. Then they might even suggest that you pick another pen name instead……

Read me on Amazon. Visit my website. Follow me on Twitter. Or say hi on Facebook.

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3 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Marilyn Groves says:

    How excited will I be when I have my two debut novels, different genres, published in different names!!

  2. My name is so boring that i would defo change it if i got as far as publishing.. now i just have to finish the actual book to get there lol… x

  3. My non-fiction books were published under my previous married name and I didn’t begin to publish fiction until I had remarried, so a change of name for each type of my work just happened naturally. However, now that I live in Scotland and have a wonderful Scottish maiden name, I would like to use that for a forthcoming book. I didn’t know authors could just ‘adopt’ a name. I thought there was some legal process you had to go through, so it was enlightening to read what you had to say about changing your name… and it certainly would be fun to discover the “spring” it might give to my writing.

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