Many famous authors have published works under a pen name (or "nom de plume") for various reasons. Some authors publish under a predetermined, contrived name because they value their privacy; enjoy choosing a new identity or name; dislike their birthname; need a fresh career start; fear fame; feel a greater sense of writing freedom; or want to differentiate works that span multiple genres. An author who wants to publish anonymously should understand its benefits and implications before beginning the process of picking a pseudonym.
Write a quality book manuscript. The publishing industry is highly competitive; therefore, study the market, read extensively, boost your writing skills, join a critique group and write every single day. Many writing resources are available--including Poets & Writers Magazine and Writer's Digest--to help writers create, revise and polish an exceptional book manuscript.
Choose a pen name. Study other author's names for inspiration and to avoid duplication. Utilize Amazon, Google, bookstores and libraries. Pick a name that is easily remembered, has few syllables, is easy to spell and is original. Unique, believable pen names are the best ones for a long-term career, although any pen name will help maintain an author's privacy.
Understand the implications of publishing anonymously. Once their work has been published successfully, authors may long for credit and praise. This loss of appreciation is difficult to turn around, even if the author's true identity is eventually revealed. On the other hand, high-profile individuals may revel in their protected identity, and readers will not have preconceived notions before reading their published books.
Communicate your intention to use a pseudonym with a literary agent or publishing editor. After your work has been accepted for publication, read the fine print of the contract to ensure that utilizing a pen name does not present a legal issue. Understand that royalty checks will be written to your actual name, not your pen name, to ensure payment.
Follow up with industry contacts throughout the book-publication process. Before the book is finally printed, continue to emphasize to your editors your desire to remain anonymous.