1. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20

    When to use the pseudonym?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Rumwriter, Jan 9, 2014.

    I always write under a different last name (my grandmother's maiden name) -- it's just something I started doing 3 years ago, and kept with.

    My question is, when handling the business side of writing, should you go by the legal name or the pen name? For instance, I'm applying to a lot of writing internships/programs that require writing samples. On the application, I would think I should write my legal name, but then my writing samples are under my writing name, and I don't want to cause any sort of confusion on their end, as it would only give anyone a reason not to want to do business with me.

    So, is it best to just write under my legal name until I get established and have credibility? Any advice/suggestions would be helpful.
     
  2. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    That is an interesting question. I hope someone here can answer. Unfortunately I don't know myself, though I've thought of using a pseudonym.
     
  3. graphospasm
    Offline

    graphospasm Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2013
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    Texas
    If you have a cover letter on your application, just mention that you publish under a pen name. That should take care of it. If you haven't published anything yet there's really no logical reason to mention your intended, maybe-someday, will-use-in-future pen name...

    ...except when you're submitting something for publication. THEN you need to specify that you want to use a pen name.

    I publish under a pen name that differs from my legal name. On submitted manuscripts I use my real name in the heading, next to my contact info/etc., but under the story's title I list my pen name ("by so-and-so"). That's standard submission format when writing with a pen name.
     
  4. graphospasm
    Offline

    graphospasm Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2013
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    Texas
    Addendum: Here's a template. http://www.shunn.net/format/novel.html Note the name in the heading differs from the name under the story's title.
     
  5. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,032
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    @graphospasm
    Why hello there, fellow Shunn format user.

    Also, I believe what you wrote is the right way to handle it.
     
  6. graphospasm
    Offline

    graphospasm Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2013
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    Texas
    Yay, Shunn! :D

    I used to struggle with formatting manuscripts when a publisher didn't specify preferences, but my first publisher recommended defaulting to Shunn if a submission call doesn't otherwise specify format. Never had a problem since. The placement of penname vs. legal name on a manuscript came directly from both Shunn and a reputable lit mag's editor-in-chief. Considering no other publishing place has had a problem with that format, I stick with it!
     
  7. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,032
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    That is good to know that it does work well.
    Shunn seems to be all nicely defaulted and the submission guidelines are usually identical to a standard MS with a few specifics here and there.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    getting back to the op's quandary...

    short answer:
    yes!

    why complicate matters for no good reason?... and i don't see that you have any really good reason for using a pen name...

    if/when you start querying and submitting work to agents and publishers, if you really feel the need to use the nom de plume, then is the time to do it... but you would only put it on the mss, using your legal name for all correspondence and contractual matters...

    for what you're doing at this stage, it makes no sense to not use your legal name...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  9. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20
    Well, it may not be crucial for me to use a pen name, but I don't know that it would be right to say I have no good reason -- the thing is that I don't even go by my legal last name anymore. I always introduce myself with my pen name -- it's just how things started going for me. Somehow I feel like if I went by a different first name it wouldn't be a big deal at all, but that the last name somehow carries more weight as far as business goes
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    are you saying that you use the 'alias' in all your business dealings?... how do you square that with the irs?
     
  11. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20
    My business dealings have involved me being a student on loans -- yes, those have been in my legal name. Everyone else I come across, I use my pseudonym. All of my papers have always been turned in under my pen name, I always introduce myself under my pen name, my business cards have my pen name, my e-mail address has my pen name -- basically, everything goes pen name, except that I've yet to make the legal change, which may happen in the next few years. We shall see.

    The thing is that, for a part time job, having my boss know me under my legal name is one thing. But trying to maintain this name for my professional writing career seems like the sort of thing to establish early on. But, I suppose I could always just introduce myself as a different name when I meet producers and execs and agents etc, and if and when any confusion comes up, just explain it then.

    But what I don't want to happen is go through under one name for 10 years and then switch to another.
     
  12. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    I write under a pseudonym.

    I do this because the first book I wrote was a true story and I needed to keep the confidentiality of myself and the people involved. When I began writing fiction, I had a choice to make. 1) keep writing under the pen name, 2) write under my legal name or 3) pick another pen name for the fiction.

    I decided to encompass all my writing under the original pen name so everything I do with regards to writing, this includes facebook accounts, twitter accounts, email, website, forums etc, is done so through my pseudonym.

    If I need to write to agents/publishers/other legal bodies, I write "real name, writing as, pseudonym" and on any tax related stuff (here in the UK) my pseudonym is classed as my business name.

    Not sure how that differs from the IRS though ...
     
  13. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    In Chester Anderson's The Butterfly Kid he talks in the forward about how much it bothered him that, when he read a story written in first person, the name on the cover was not the name of the main character. So his main character is Chester Anderson, and Chester's best friend is Michael Kurland, who was his best friend in real life (and would go on to write the sequel and several more books beside).

    This is one of the reasons I strongly suspect David Wong has read The Butterfly Kid. His main character is also named David Wong, but Wong's real name is Jason Pargin.

    Point being, there are some stylistic choices in using a pen name, outside of the fact that what you have written is to horribly slanderous to apply your name to.
     
  14. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    I too write under a pen name, and I have a different alias for my photography business, simple reason is, having a medical clinic in my name, I need to separate my medical and artistic sides, not so much for my readers but for my patients. And not because my patients wouldn't think me writing is the coolest thing, because they do, but I don't want some obsessed fan harassing my clinic facebook account, for example. It's not a must, but I feel more comfortable with keeping all those facets separate.

    Having had some minor internet fame with my writings in the past, I am aware just how obsessed some readers can get. And they blur the line between the author and the protagonist like it's nobody's business. Not all, but all you need is a couple or three and you have a problem. I don't want that behaviour anywhere near my clinic. It's just a smart thing to do, in my case. Having said that, when I'm ready to start sending queries to publishers, I'll first get an agent and ask them to help me concoct a suitable pen name. It's not a problem if professionals know who you are and where you live, but I can't say the same for the fans.
     
    Catrin Lewis and Tyler Danann like this.
  15. KJ Palmer
    Offline

    KJ Palmer New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    East Coast USA
    Maybe this is outdated and I'm showing my age, but an acceptable form for submitting works under a legal name and a pseudonym used to be:

    by Jane Doe whose pseudonym is Mary Smith

    The U.S. copyright office accepts that format.
     
  16. Tyler Danann
    Offline

    Tyler Danann Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    I always use my 'pen name' or a 'name of going' as I make some pretty hardcore stuff both on youtube and the page as well.
    I knew from years back to use this one, it just fits a lot better than what my parents gave me as a kid. :)
     
    jazzabel likes this.
  17. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    'name of going'? o_O
     
  18. Tyler Danann
    Offline

    Tyler Danann Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    Sure, like a Nom de Guerre or assumed-name etc.
     
  19. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    just never heard of it called by that term before now, so wondered how it came about and applied to writing...

    has a certain je ne sais quoi charm about it... is it a translation from some other language, perhaps?
     
  20. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    I've heard of nom de plume ...
     
  21. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Nom de Guerre is French and literally means "War Name". I suppose it first arose when warriors/knights went around with names like "The Hammer of God". Anyway, it has come to mean "alias".

    Nom de plume is also French in terms of the words used, but according to Wikipedia, it was based on a Latin expression for "literary name" and invented by the British who didn't realise that Nom de Guerre already served that purpose in the French language.
     
    jazzabel likes this.
  22. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    nom de plume is simply french for 'name of pen'... or 'pen name' in english syntax...
     
  23. CMastah
    Offline

    CMastah Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    43
    Should I use a pen name if I want to skip racism? Supposing I come from a part of the world that people currently take issue with, should I use a pseudonym? What's more, how do I avoid this issue with publishers who'll probably want my real name and might also take issue with my nationality? Publishing HERE is not an option, people here rarely read fiction in their native language, they're NOT going to read in English.
     
    Tyler Danann likes this.
  24. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    To retain privacy, sure. Why not?

    But you will have to find a suitable publisher, since they will need to know your real name. If that is really a problem, you could self publish, or try a smaller e-publisher such as XXXXXX.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014
    CMastah likes this.
  25. CMastah
    Offline

    CMastah Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    43
    Thanks for the heads up :)
     

Share This Page