Authors use pen names for a number of reasons. Some worry about their privacy. Some want to test a new market or work without betting their given name on it. There are probably as many reasons for pen names as there are pen names.
There is both good and bad with using a pen name. On the one hand using a pen name can give a writer greater freedom to explore ideas. It can protect them against ill-conceived prejudice. There is no good reason why an English teacher can’t write romance novels on the side, but some parents will almost invariably decide it’s “inappropriate” for their precious child to be educated by the author of “Stacey’s first dungeon experience”. And there are still plenty of people out there who don’t think gay people should teach at all. So teachers who write often use pen names.
My approach to pen names is primarily courtesy. I have been writing contemporary YA novels aimed at LGBT youth. I have two out, one near completion and a lot more ideas. But I also write other kinds of fiction. I have a life long love of fantasy and science fiction.
I know some readers of contemporary novels (YA or otherwise) cringe when one characters turns out to be a werewolf or something like that. They don’t like the unreality of urban fantasy. The opposite is true of fantasy readers, many have little or no interest in real life stories. “I live with reality everyday, I read to escape it.”
I can understand and respect both views. So I have created a pseudo-pen name. I publish fantasy and science fiction under the name R. J. Eliason (short for Rachel Jean in case you are curious). I publish contemporary YA under Rachel Eliason. The two names are close enough that readers, friends and family can easily find both sets of books. But readers with a preference can also know at a glance what they are getting into.
My contemporary YA pen name can be found here: