1. Wayfarer33
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    Wayfarer33 Member

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    Legal Issues with Pen Names?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Wayfarer33, Jul 9, 2015.

    I'm pretty sure I want to use one, but I was wondering if that will make things harder, in terms of hoops to jump through for publication. I'm trying to decide if it's really worth the bother to me. Anyone know about the legal complications that go with pen names? Or any drawbacks of using one, for that matter?
     
  2. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    My advice to you (and a general rule of thumb) is, how convicted are you? Would your conviction to what you wrote really be such as to warrant not using your real name?
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have several pen names, and have never had a problem with publishing under them. I'm not sure what @Dagolas is referring to... if you're writing a manifesto, sure, put it under your real name. But if you're writing fiction? You don't need to respond to silly dares, you can just publish as convenient to you. If a pen name is convenient, go for it - there shouldn't be a problem.
     
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  4. Wayfarer33
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    Wayfarer33 Member

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    Thanks. I thought I remembered reading, years ago, about tax issues or something. If there are no financial complications involved, I'll definitely go that route.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You'll need to check on your local tax regulations to be sure, but I'm Canadian and have no problems here, and I know Americans who use pen names without issue.

    You'll need to either establish a business under your pen name (a "doing business as", or DBA) or ask your publishers to send cheques to your legal name in order to cash payments, but this isn't a big deal. I've taken the second route, but I know of authors who've done the first, and it hasn't been an issue for them.
     
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  6. Wayfarer33
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    Wayfarer33 Member

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    Thanks. Sounds easy enough. I guess now I just need to choose between the pen names I've had in mind...
     
  7. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    May I ask why a pen name? What would be the benefits to it?
     
  8. Mattiemae
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    Mattiemae Member

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    I believe your real name is used on tax forms and government. Your pen name is only used for the book. And I use pen names for the simple reason it's to easy for people to track down where you live these days through I.P. and if someone doesn't agree with what you say and opinionated like the one author who tracked down her reviewer, it can help you avoid dealing with certain people and protect your privacy. People can find out anything they want to about you and end up at your doorstep.

    Not everyone is friendly in the world and well behaved. The other is if you have a professional job and your boss finds out you write and they may not agree, policy and working at certain places may frown on it. I know back home a teacher was fired for writing out of school and it had mild sex in it.

    The other is if one pen name goes sour, you can still write another book under other pen names and not have to worry about your reputation as a writer. I believe many people do it for many different reasons. But there are many famous writers that wrote books under different names.
     
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  9. Wayfarer33
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    Wayfarer33 Member

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    It's a combination of things for me. For one, I just don't like the way my legal name sounds, especially in relation to my writing. A bit too staid, even stodgy. It's also the matter of not necessarily wanting all of my ideas, stories, and their various elements connected to my real life, profession, prospects, etc. I don't care to wear that hat everywhere I go, if you see what I mean. Too much baggage. Multiple pen names seems like it might be a bit limiting as a writer, in that it doesn't given any one of them a chance to gain much of a reputation, but that's just me. Some people might find it even less limiting, if they have a variety of genres or styles that they like, and don't want to be chained to just one reputation.
     
  10. Mattiemae
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    Mattiemae Member

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    Well the reason I use multiple is because I write different niches. Non-fiction, fiction, poetry. From what I was told is if you list all your niches under one pen name the readers become confused.
     
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  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What!? :bigeek::rant: That's ridiculous! I believe you, but that's ridiculous!!
     
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  12. Mattiemae
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    Mattiemae Member

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    Problem is to many people have their opinions and don't keep their nose out of other people's business and find some jobs not compatible with writing books. I suppose it comes down to their personal beliefs and if they need to push the issue. It's ridiculous but this world is filled with ridiculous people. They have to be right at all costs and prove their point. What do you do with those haters out there, that have nothing better to do, then think they're right in the eyes of themselves and judge others.
     
  13. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Basically, there are no problems unless you don't want the publisher to know your real name (e.g. JK Rowling's new pen name). The publisher would deal with you as normal, but put a different name on the book.

    However, the US copyright registration, at least, would typically list both the pen name and real name, so that would provide a way for people to link them, if you're worried about that.
     

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