What is in a name you ask? Sometimes, it all can depend on a name. If you name a character and that name didn’t exist until 20 years later, there are people who will know. It might be less than a handful, but somewhere out there, they will know. And they might call you on it.
What about your name though, the name you want to publish under? I suppose it all depends on what you are writing. Is the writing you want to publish something you’d be fine with your family reading? What about your high school nemesis? When you show up at the reunion are you going to be proud of that novel or a little embarrassed that you wrote such a thing?
If you’re writing something steamy or hardcore that uses words you don’t want your grandmother realizing that you know, then the best thing you can do is to publish under a pseudonym. If you are writing something that you’re proud of and want to shout to the world from the rooftops, then publish under your own name.
Honestly, though, it is your choice. Regardless of what you write, as long as you are proud of it, and are proud to say “I DID THIS!” then it doesn’t matter what name you choose to put it under.
If you decide to choose a pseudonym, do some research. Find out if others are publishing under that name. Find out if there are other people wandering around the internet with that name. This way you can make an informed decision about it.
You wouldn’t want to choose a name and then realize that there is someone out there in the world with that name who almost, but not quite, looks like you, and has a terrible reputation. So, just like you should do a little research before naming your characters (for time-period purposes), please take the time to research the name you want to publish under.
There are three people in my area with my name that I know of for sure. One is a news anchor, the other works at the bank I use, so I’ve chosen to use a pseudonym because there are over 33,000 people with my first and last name. If you want to know how many people have your name, check www.howmanyofme.com to find out.