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: http://sophiaknightly.net/newsletter-sign-up.html 
Write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org 
Follow her on Twitter @SophiaKnightly
“Like” her Facebook author page at: http://on.fb.me/vGfJ5t 
Visit her website at: http://www.sophiaknightly.net 
WILD FOR YOU Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/XtVlFBdaHvs 
SOLD ON YOU Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/X20NbJElrvM 
GRILL ME, BABY Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/6Y07iUPt3rg 
Sexy romantic thriller HEART MELTER is Book 2 of New York Times bestselling author Sophia Knightly’s popular Heartthrob Series.