Choosing how to format your author name…

Every author has to decide on how to present their name when publishing work…

  • Do you go for the straight first name followed by last name format?
  • Or first initial followed by last name?
  • How do you present any middle names?
  • Should you reverse your names for impact as a pen name, or even discard your own identifiers and use something completely different?

The choice about whether to use a pen name will be driven by many factors, including a desire to maintain anonymity or wanting to match the prevailing style in your chosen genre. But whether we’re using a pen name or not, the same question arises – how should I format my author name?

I decided to let some research inform my choice.

I looked at the top-50 ranked science fiction authors in a large online survey and broke their names down into 2 categories:

  1. initials followed by last name, or
  2. first name(s) followed by last name.

I then counted the syllables in the individual parts of their names (initials counted as 1 syllable each), and expressed them in this ratio:

Count of all syllables before the last name vs Count of syllables in last name

 – here are three examples:


The conclusion was that using initials is not usual (just 5 from 45 authors had chosen that style), and a 2:2 balance in the names was most common.

I found this very helpful when revising my author name to match available .com domain names – I settled on:

  • Author name – Lee J. Russell
  • Domain name –

Here are the full results – do they help you to choose how to format your own author name?


Published by Lee J. Russell

Often having a Cold War influence, my stories explore desperate situations that take people to their physical and emotional limits. Find me on Twitter as @LeeJ_Russell or at

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