[identity profile] aeriedraconia.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] artsyprincess asked a good question in a comment and I wanted to pull it out and give it it's own post.

"I'm also curious about the process of choosing a pen name. Does anyone know anything about that? Are there legal issues at all? Do you just randomly pick one, declare it to be your alter ego and start writing it down? Are you obligated to list it as an alias from then on when you fill out official papers or background information? Advice?"

My response: If you are submitting work as an unpublished author you should not have to worry about a pen name just yet. When you sell your book then you can let your agent or publisher know that you plan to use a pen name.

You can choose to have your copyright placed under your pen name or your real name (the publisher handles the copyrighting of your work for you when they buy your book). You will be paid under your real name though. The pen name is really just a use name for the cover of your book or for appearances but will never be a legal name (unless you have your name legally changed, that is).

The choice of name is left up to the author, from what I understand, but will probably have input from agent or publisher.

If anyone knows more or knows better, please speak up.

I wrote this post on pseudonyms a little while ago.


I've been paying attention to what the pros and the industry say about pseudonyms because I have always planned to use a pseudonym, I have a difficult name and I get tired of having to deal with the misspellings and mispronunciations. Also, if you become popular enough, there is the added benefit of anonymity to help put a layer between you and the world so you can go to the grocery store and buy your Frosted Flakes and toilet paper in peace.

I came across this article one morning: http://www.sfnovelists.com/2007/08/26/noms-de-shame/ by Tate Hallaway and she talks about the reasons authors use pseudonyms. Unwieldy or very common legal names, author changes genre and lagging sales.

If sales are lagging for your hard sci fi books, the bookstores aren't going to buy any more of your titles because they won't be able to sell enough of the books to earn back the purchase price. With a different pseudonym, the bookstore won't have you flagged as a low seller and will purchase your new books.

If you switch genres, the hard sci fi author switching over to paranormal romances for example, will probably turn off a bunch of the original sci fi fan base even while building a new paranormal fan base. The best solution is to have two separate identities.

Basically, a new pseudonym can separate you from your past works and freshen up a stalled career.

How does a pseudonym work with copyrights? Well, your work can be copyrighted under your pseudonym or your legal name. The publisher who purchases your work will handle the copyrighting, BTW. Copyrighting screenplays is handled differently though.

Do you plan to use a pseudonym?


For Writers of Original Fiction

September 2016



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