Posted On March 28, 2014 by Print This Post

What’s in a name? Author branding with your pen name by Author Sophia Knightly

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting New York Times best selling author SOPHIA KNIGHTLY during a Facebook party celebrating the release of the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Boxed Set. If you haven’t discovered her books yet, I suspect your reading Wish List is about to get a bit longer!

In the balcony scene of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet muses, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” Perhaps it would, but your given name creates an immediate, lasting impression. It’s your calling card and it often invokes an image right away.

Two years ago when I decided to revive my writing career, the first thing I decided on was a new pen name, also known as pseudonym, to build my author brand image. I was traditionally published with two NYC publishing houses, but it had been ten years since my last release. My goal was twofold. First, I wanted to make my author name, Sophia Knightly, synonymous with the types of books I write — sexy and romantic, feel-good fiction; and second, I wanted a fresh start with a new author name for my traditional and indie books to grow readership through social media.

So what things did I consider to come up with my pen name of Sophia Knightly? I needed a name that looked good in print and I liked how it sounded. My love of the name Sophia goes back to my childhood when I considered the actress Sophia Loren to be the epitome of an exotic, self-assured woman. Later, when I was researching for my pen name, I found out Sophia means wisdom in Greek, and the positive vibes from that alone sold me. I also found there weren’t that many well-known romance writers named Sophia, so that was a plus.


I was off to a good start once I made the decision to be called Sophia. Now I just needed the surname. That wasn’t as easy as coming up with the first name. It had to sound right with Sophia, to flow when spoken and to look good in print. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted it to start with the letter K, like my married last name. After giving much thought and going through lists and lists of surnames starting with K, I chose Knightly. I usually go with my gut feeling when I make decisions and the moment I paired the two together to form Sophia Knightly, I was sold. Not only did it look good on paper, but most importantly it felt like a name I’d be happy to live with for a long time. There was something cheerful and upbeat about it and I could also use it for all the genres I write in, romantic suspense, romantic comedy and chick lit.

Given the amount of effort and work I envisioned it would take to build my author brand, I wanted to make sure Sophia Knightly was the right choice. I double checked and found no authors with the same name and also that the domains were available. That was a big plus in my book.


I started my brand initiative well before selling my romantic comedy, Grill Me, Baby to Samhain Publishing. To build a reading audience, I decided to get my rights back from Kensington for my traditionally published books and release them myself as an indie author. Already immersed in my Sophia Knightly persona, I built a website, created a Facebook Author page separate from my personal one, and joined Twitter and Pinterest. At Facebook, I have the advantage of two pages to post news, my personal one that is cross-referenced with Sophia Knightly and my author page.

After two years of diligently expanding my horizons through ads, giving workshops, blogs, conference appearances, book signings, Facebook contests and parties, I am getting closer to the branding and visibility I’ve always dreamed of. And when I landed on the USA Today list and the New York Times list as Sophia Knightly, it was a sweet victory indeed!


What are your thoughts on pen names? Why would you – or wouldn’t you – use one?

On Monday, Afton Locke discusses “How to publish a boxed set.”




New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Sophia Knightly, loves to cook up hot romance and delicious humor in her feel-good stories. Whether it’s romantic suspense, romantic comedy or chick lit, her books are fun and sexy contemporary romances that feature hot alpha heroes and strong, smart women.

A two-time Maggie award finalist and a P&E Readers’ Poll finalist, she is traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington and Samhain Publishing. Her popular Tropical Heat Series books, Wild for You and Sold on You, have consistently been on multiple Amazon bestselling lists and sold over 100,000 copies.

When not writing or reading, she loves walking the beach, exploring museums, going to the theatre, enjoying good food, and watching movies. One of her favorite pastimes remains simply watching people, especially those in love!

Sign up for her “new release” newsletter at:

Write to her at:

Follow her on Twitter @SophiaKnightly

“Like” her Facebook author page at:

Visit her website at:

WILD FOR YOU Book Trailer:

SOLD ON YOU Book Trailer:

GRILL ME, BABY Book Trailer:

Sexy romantic thriller HEART MELTER is Book 2 of New York Times bestselling author Sophia Knightly’s popular Heartthrob Series.

 nytudpate_heartmelter1400x2100 (1)
Natasha White has no idea why anyone would knife her on a crowded street in Times Square. At first the Broadway star thinks it’s an accident, but as frightening events unravel, she turns to her ex-fiancée Dr. Ian MacGregor for help. After their break-up years ago, Natasha never stopped loving Ian. As he helps her evade a dangerous enemy, hot passion re-ignites between them.
When Natasha lands in Ian’s office wounded, the healer in him can’t turn her away and he becomes her fierce protector. He whisks Natasha away to his Highland castle, determined to safeguard her. But will their love be strong enough to survive the shocking secrets revealed?

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27 Responses to “What’s in a name? Author branding with your pen name by Author Sophia Knightly”

  1. Hi Sophia Knightly. I don’t care if an author writes under a pseudonym. I know of several reasons authors do this and I’m ok with it.

    Posted by Debbie Mccreary | March 28, 2014, 12:39 am
  2. Hi Becke! Thanks for having me, I’m thrilled to be here and to chat about pen names. If anyone has questions, fire away!

    Posted by Sophia Knightly | March 28, 2014, 6:56 am
  3. I really like your pen name. It is so pretty and it flows well. It also looks good on the cover of the book. I would definitely have to use a pen name if I ever wrote something. My first name is uncommon, so everyone would know it was me!!! I don’t even use my name on blogs unless I have to, so I go with girlfromwva 🙂

    Posted by girlfromwva | March 28, 2014, 8:44 am
  4. Hi Sophia,

    I use a pen name. It helps me to get in the zone to write. Plus it honors members of my family.

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | March 28, 2014, 10:15 am
  5. I love your pen name, it’s sexy, fun and elegant.

    I used Leslie Sartor for awhile in screenwriting, b/c it could be male or female and actually got more looks b/c men thought it was male. Sigh.

    But I finally settled on L.A. Sartor b/c in addition to romance I’m going to pen a mystery series and it felt right for that.

    I’m hoping there will be a follow through from romance to my cozy series. I guess we’ll see.

    You offer a lot of swag. Do you think that helps build your visibility? Loyalty? It’s an interesting topic.

    Posted by L.A. Sartor | March 28, 2014, 10:47 am
    • Thank you, Leslie! I think L.A. Sartor is a great pen name for you to use in all genres. It also invokes Los Angeles and therefore Hollywood, a good place for your screenplays!

      Regarding swag – I love having something to give my readers in addition to the books. It’s fun to create and readers seem love the goodies.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Posted by Sophia Knightly | March 28, 2014, 11:49 am
  6. Sophia Knightly is pretty and suits you! You raise all good points about what to consider, and I’m glad you mentioned the .com issue, because it’s so important that readers can find you easily. The idea of a name itself being a brand is an interesting one. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Alyssa Maxwell | March 28, 2014, 12:44 pm
  7. Hi Sophia – Sorry I’m late. It’s been a very hectic day here, but it’s getting back to normal now. I think your pen name is perfect for you! I’ve always been intrigued by pen names and pseudonyms. I loved reading about the way you came up with Sophia Knightly! Thanks for sharing, and thanks so much for joining us today!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 28, 2014, 4:55 pm
  8. I don’t know about the pen name, but the cover for Heart Melter, well it works for me!!!

    Posted by Mary Ricksen | March 28, 2014, 5:58 pm
  9. Hi Sophia,
    I love your pen name! I decided that I should probably use a pen name because I’m a teacher and I had read somewhere that it’s a good idea to use a pen name if you are in public education. But the real kicker was when I googled my own name and found out that there is a lady convicted of killing her husband with my name. My first name is spelled a little weird and she spelled it the same way. I actually got fan mail for her on my FB page wanting to meet “me” when I got out of prison. Soooo…I decided I should definitely use a pen name. I chose my middle name and the ancestral version of my maiden name. I don’t know if it works, but since I’ve already started trying to build my platform, I’m stuck with it…at least for now 🙂
    Thanks for the post and can’t wait to get my hands on some of your books.

    Posted by LeAnne Bristow | March 28, 2014, 9:17 pm
  10. Hi Leanne – it must have been a real shocker to hear you shared the same name with that woman! I think your pen name is lovely! Good luck with all your writing endeavors and building your platform. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

    Posted by Sophia Knightly | March 28, 2014, 9:31 pm
  11. Sophia – Thanks so much for spending the day with us today. It’s been fun getting to know you!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 28, 2014, 9:40 pm
  12. Evening Sophia…sorry I’m late! I’m just deciding I need a pen name, and appreciate reading how you came up with yours! I feel it’s going to be a monumental task.

    Thanks for the walk through!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 28, 2014, 10:29 pm
  13. Yes. Why be attached to the name we were given when we were born? Use the name that suits you and what you write.
    Then change it again if you need to. let’s play and have fun. Why not?
    Thank you for writing about it. I have recently used a new middle name for an upcoming romance novel to signal to a certain audience what the book is really about which maybe others readers won’t pick up! The name is a hidden message in itself!

    Posted by Sherry Marshall | March 29, 2014, 4:47 am
  14. I’ve thought a lot about the idea of using a pen name for fiction writing. People tend to not know how to pronounce my last name, which is a problem for sure. I’m not sure whether I should just adopt my husband’s last name for writing or what. It’s a connundrum.

    You mention that there is some cross-over posting between your personal and professional Facebook. Does this mean that people who know you under your legal name know that you are also Sophia Knightly? How do you keep your “real name” out of association with your pen name?

    Posted by Bex | March 31, 2014, 12:28 pm
    • Hi Bex! Regarding Facebook, my personal page has my legal name with my author name beneath it in parenthesis. Most people who are friends on my personal page know I am an author and that I write as Sophia Knightly. I don’t consciously try to keep my “real name” out of association with my pen name. Readers seem to accept it just fine.

      Thanks for stopping by and best wishes on choosing your pen name!

      Posted by Sophia Knightly | March 31, 2014, 9:42 pm

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