Publishing a Book - Pen Name or Real Name?

Hello fellow monkeys,

Wanted to start a separate account to talk about writing in finance. I've got another one on WSO with a couple of thousand bananas but wanted the extra layer of anonymity here.

Here's my dilemma. So, I'm getting close to publishing a fiction book about IB. Should I publish it anonymously with a pen name or use my real name? Let me know your thoughts.

Here is my pros and cons list so that you can better understand my struggle:

Pros - Using a Real Name

  1. Get to use my actual bio to accompany the book. People always want to know the author's background. I think this is particularly important for business fiction. Would Michael Lewis have done as well if Liar's Poker was written by an anonymous person at Solomon Brothers? If you're anonymous, whatever you say has a little less credibility and in this niche of fiction, it's particularly important.

  2. If I really want to push the book, it's much easier to do it with a real name. Everything from media to publicity is easier if you're not hiding behind a pen name, especially with the internet and social media these days.

  3. Have to admit that part of it is ego. Would you write a book which took hundreds of hours to complete if only a handful of people knew who you were? Up to this point, a small handful of friends and family know about the book and no one else. In fact, only one friend in the industry knows.

Cons - Using a Real Name

  1. The book is fiction, but at the end of the day, it doesn't paint the industry in the best light. Not sure if that's the ideal thing to have floating around the internet in terms of future employment. Note that I'm pretty far along in my career, but am no MD either. So, maybe this is not as much a risk as it would be for someone in early career, but it's still there.

  2. Again, the book is fiction, but like any book, the author draws inspiration from their own life. Not sure how I would feel about some former colleagues reading the book....even though it's fiction.

  3. Risk / return does not seem great. Honestly, I like working in the industry and don't plan on quitting anytime soon. I don't dream of becoming a writer. This is just a fun hobby for me. So, in some ways, I don't know if I really want to put my name out there and possibly do damage to my career if this is just a fun side project.

Monkeys...would really appreciate the help. I've been wrestling back and forth with this question for a full year and am still no closer to an answer. Give me your thoughts...

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (19)

Apr 3, 2021 - 9:08am

Haven't asked any superiors at my current firm, but I think that they would be ok with it. They might be confused on why I published a whole book, but would not fire me. The issue would more likely come up when searching for the next role eventually.

Apr 2, 2021 - 11:57pm

Pen name probably

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
Apr 3, 2021 - 10:14am

I started writing short stories based on my personal travel and business trips, but with no content around finance or banking. Purely about people I met or a business they ran or something unique about them.
In 2019 I started with crime novels.

Used a pseudonym in case this would be a bigger outcome at some point in the future. I generally don't link my professional life with my personal hobbies or interests, even use a nickname (not my real name) for all hobbies or people I meet.

  • Intern in HF - Other
Apr 3, 2021 - 10:45am

Reading through this I think you answered your own questions with 2 and 3 of cons since you want to stay in the industry. 

As long as you're willing to keep your ego in check that's the move. I haven't spent hundreds of hours writing a book so I know that may be a harder proposition to deal with after putting in so much work. 

Apr 4, 2021 - 12:52pm

real name

need the credibility in this genre

and could open up network/interesting to chat about with industry peers in future recruiting 

Apr 4, 2021 - 2:35pm


real name

Yeah, real name if you're perfect and Mitt Romney or something. This guy is creating a fictional account of something within the industry in a negative light at times.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

April 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (32) $350
  • Associates (180) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (102) $151
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (25) $146
  • Intern/Summer Associate (95) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (387) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (315) $82