1. Brode
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    Brode Member

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    Publishing under a pen name

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Brode, Feb 19, 2010.

    I have a short novel I'd like to publish; as it's written as a first-hand report on a disaster of sorts, I'd like to publish it under the name of the main character to add to the immersion factor. Three basic questions about this: how do I assure that the copyright is still filed under my name? Are there any general rules to follow when publishing under a fake name? And, lastly--this one's a little petty--is this a dumb idea? I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth the extra effort.
     
  2. vinniram
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    vinniram Member

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    I'm sure one of the regulars here will answer your question about copyright issues. But the idea sounds interesting, not dumb!
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Copyright is still yours, because you're the creator. Copyright exists from the moment you create the work in question.

    As for using a psuedonym, the only difference is that on the manuscript, you put the psuedonym as the byline. Your real name still goes on all correspondence, and it will be that name that any cheques are made out to, etc.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what banz said...

    as for it being a good idea, or not, i'd consider it a cheesy gimmick and it would quash any desire i might have had to read the book... i suspect most publishers would see it the same way and either turn down the submission, or insist on changing the by line...
     
  5. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    You always own copyright, but I would stick to a normal name as a pen name. Don't confuse things by using a character's name.

    And (this is important) make sure if you get published that you inform the taxman that you are writing under a pen name. Legally, you are allowed to call yourself anything you like, as long as it is not for illegal purposes, such as evading tax.
     
  6. jacklondonsghost
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    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

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    I don't know that I'd call it a 'cheesy gimmick.' You wouldn't really pick up on the fact that the character's name is the author's until you read the book, at which point that would be a silly reason to stop reading. If it is a well written book it probably won't make much difference. I'd say do what you like with it; it's not an inherently 'dumb' idea.

    As for the legal aspect of this I think it has already been answered by other members.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    tax-wise, it's a non-issue, eileen, since payment checks will be made out in your legal name... you can't cash a check made out to a pen name, since you'd have no id to back it up...
     
  8. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I just don't see why anyone would want to use a pen name. I would be too proud of my book or story not to get the credit for it.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    If you're publishing drastically different genres (i.e. childrens' fiction, and erotica) then it can be useful.
     
  10. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    At one point I had a joint account with myself, as I was getting cheques in two different names. It was legal as long as I told the bank manager and taxman.
     
  11. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    It clearly can work ... look at Lemony Snickett.

    Obviously you need to submit to publishers using your real name in all correspondence, but make it clear to them that if published you wish to use the pen name.

    One thing to be careful of though - your name as an author (whichever you decide to use) will win you reputation. If you publish using a particular pen-name as a one-off gimmick you lose the chance to build that reputation using that book.
     
  12. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    You can do what Umberto Eco did for The name of the Rose. He published under his own name, but in the beginning of the book he tells us a story how the following pages are in fact a translation from an obscure lost manuscript. There was a huge discussion about the authenticity of the claim, and it worked wonderfully as a trick to get you into the book and connect the moder reader with the distant past.

    You could try something like that: a mask. Good old litterary device!
     
  13. Sappho
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    Well I don't consider it cheesy, I do dabble in a bit of erotica and I know some elderly family members would be horrified by my stories oh and plus I live in a small community.

    But yes make sure you sort out your legal issues, I know in Australia you need a business number if you want your work published.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that may fly in the uk/commonwealth, but i doubt it would in the us, where you must have a ss# or other valid id# to open a bank account...
     
  15. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    I opened my account with my normal id, then added my penname as a joint person on the account, but only I could sign cheques. Kind of like having an account with both your single and married name on it.
     

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