There are a few reasons why a writer may choose to use a pen name. One is to remain anonymous (which does NOT mean you are deceiving readers). If a writer wishes to keep their true identity a secret (perhaps because they were in an abusive relationship or he/she is a teacher wanting to publishing something risque), they can create a pen name. That is one of the reasons why I have a pen name. The second reason why I use my pen name is because I want my name to be memorable, to stand out. To me, "Chrys Fey" is mysterious and magical. After all, the meaning of "fey" is magic.
Another use for a pen name is to distinguish between an author’s writing styles. For instance, say you have published a sci-fi series under one name. But you are working on another series that happens to be as far from sci-fi as you can possibly get. Perhaps you don’t want to confuse your readers with the clashing styles so you decide to publish this other series under a different name to warn your readers that this series is not like the other one.
The only thing you have to remember when using a pen name is to mention you use one in your query letter, and that your pen name will be on your byline for your all of your manuscripts while your real last name will go at the top of each page for the header.
So, if you want a pen name, go for it! But take your time thinking of one. I spent a couple of years thinking I wanted to get published under another name until "Chrys Fey" fluttered into my mind like a magical butterfly with flaming wings. When it did, I knew instantly that "Chrys Fey" was the pen name I was waiting for.
QUESTIONS: Do you use a pen name or your real name when you publish? How did you decide?