I'm sitting here, finishing up my edits for the night, waiting patiently for an answer. Somebody please, tell me the answer.
All my life, I've been Matt Campbell. No, not Matthew (well, only to my mom). Occasionally, I'll accept "Matty" or some other nickname, though these would never be a name I'd consider publishing under. Matt is my name, and for as long as I've been writing, I've always been "Matt Campbell, the writer". Pen names were just toys to pretend with. Once I published, it would be my name in print, not someone else's. Egotistical? Maybe. But, maybe not. Maybe this is actually REALLY important in this new age of digital publishing.
When someone types your name in Google, as an author seeking to attract the attention of the masses, you want your name to be front and center. There is a ton of information out on the internet, and the last thing you want is a new and/or potential reader getting distracted by ten other people with your name.
But shouldn't the writing stand on it's own? If it's good, people will read it. (Says the naive younger me)
The trouble these days is that writing is everywhere. Words are everywhere, shorthanded into every little aspects of our lives. Text messages, email, Google and Yahoo! pages, message boards...these aren't just commonplace. You use them in your daily life, your work, and with your family, friends, and acquaintances. Good writing has taken a back seat, and it's sometimes hard to find. Combine all this with the fact that virtually anyone can self-publish a book, and you have one hell of a lot of information out there. All you have left is your name really. And shouldn't that name...stand out?
You kind of need the full package. You need a name that somehow stands out, but your writing must stand out as well. So if you do use a pen name, pick an original one so that interested minds will be able to find you easier. However, my editor brought up an interesting point. If you do have one of those names that everyone has, then you can sort of ride their coat tails. Matt Campbell the comic book artist/writer has some pretty solid hits on Google, but I'm falling in right below him. Suddenly, people are looking at my page, realizing I'm not how they thought I was, but also now interested in what I'm doing. The opposite could be true, but still, it's an interesting idea and really makes me wonder about the direction to go.
Ultimately, writing is whatever you want it to be. I want it to be a career, which means marketing is going to be important. Pen name or not, I need a name and a product that will attract the masses. Maybe, just maybe, Matt Campbell can get it done.
Did I just speak in the third person?