1. Failsafe Plot
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    Failsafe Plot New Member

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    Nickname/Cover Letter problem

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Failsafe Plot, Jan 11, 2009.

    I'm submitting short stories to publications and have no agent, I'm just sending in manuscripts and cover letters.

    I want to be published under my nickname because it is the name I am known by and the name I identify with, not to conceal identity or for another reason that might lend itself to a "pen name." It is not my legal name, and is it not a common derivation of my legal name (such "Andy" for Andrew). I don't want to deal with two identities, I just want to be known by my name rather than my 'legal' name.

    I am worried about this - I don't know exactly how to professionally inform editors of this in my cover letters, and I'm afraid it might mark me as a young and amateur writer. I'm also afraid that it might damage my ability to claim publishing credit for stories published under a name I have no legal claim to. There is the option of changing my name legally, but since I get along fine using one name personally and another officially, I'd rather not go through that mess if there is an easier way to handle it when submitting work for publication. Is there a professional and simple way to let editors know that you would like to be or have been published under a nickname?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Failsafe,

    First, agents don't represent short stories.

    Second, there is no need to go into the 'pen name' you want to be published under in your cover letter. You can simply use the pen name within the story file (by Skip Carter-- instead of Marvin Carter for example). An editor reading the cover letter isn't really going to care if you're using a pen name, and making a big deal about it won't win you any points.

    Once your work gets accepted, you can indicated to the editor, your pen name that you would like to have appear on the story.

    As an aside: Sometimes in the publishing contract, it will point out to the author that in order to get paid they must list their legal name in the paperwork.

    Some online submission forms have a box for legal name and one for pen name if it is different from the legal name.

    Finally, once you have established yourself with a number of stong publishing credits, in the heading part of the formal cover letter, you can list your name, writing as your pen name.

    Hope this helps.

    Terry
     
  3. Failsafe Plot
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    Failsafe Plot New Member

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    Ah, thank you so much. I haven't managed to find any sort of advice on this and I was getting really frustrated. (I pointed out that I was not using an agent because the last person I asked misunderstood the question.)

    So, to clarify: Don't mention it in my cover letter but put it as my byline on the manuscript? Right now I have it as "[legal name] writing as [nickname]" on my manuscript; and on my cover letter, the header has my legal name and the signature is my nickname. Is that too confusing - should I make the signature my legal name too, and then if they notify me that they want to publish my story, mention again that I want to be published under a different name, or should I leave it?
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Failsafe,

    On your manuscript as you have it works fine. Using two names (legal/header and then pen name signature) for the cover letter...I wouldn't do. Remember, the editors at legitimate magazines/ezines understand what a pen name is and what it's all about. They won't get confused.

    Yes, after they accept your manuscript you can remind/reiterate to them you're writing under a pen name.

    Terry
     
  5. Failsafe Plot
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    Failsafe Plot New Member

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    Thank you SO MUCH. You've made my life so much easier.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you must sign all correspondence with your legal name, since that's the name that will go on the contract and check, when/if you make a sale...

    and do NOT refer to your preferred moniker as a 'nickname' if you don't want to be seen as a know-nothing amateur by those you query... if it's not your legal name, then to all in the publishing world, it's a 'pen name' or a 'pseudonym' period...

    so:
    in your letters, use your legal name only [for contact info and signature]...
    use the pen name only on the by line of the ms...
    and if you want to note that in the query, just don't call it your 'nickname'...

    love and hugs, maia
     

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