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  1. Kstaraga

    Kstaraga Member

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    Pen names?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Kstaraga, Aug 31, 2020.

    Forgive me if this is a common thread.

    I would like to ask a bit about pen names.

    In the future, I want to publish a book. This is something that is on my bucket list and I want to do it! I wonder a lot about pen names. Can you pick any old name and make it yours? I've heard of people trademarking their name, but that sounds downright expensive (like $300?!) Not affordable. I've thought of a pen name and it never came up in the trademark searches or when I looked for authors online with that name so is it safe to use if this is the case?

    How are taxes done when you do a pen name? I have a hard time finding an answer to this, but I have heard that you would need to do a separate tax form if you make money under a pen name. I suppose this makes sense because it's of course not your real name.

    It's not only me thinking about a pen name, but my husband, whom is supportive of my writing hobby, would feel more comfortable if I chose a pen name. Reasons for this being that he feels a bit safer in case of that super slim possibility that my books gets popular OR falls into the hands of a creepy reader that becomes obsessed, wants to find me in real life, and whatever. We have a family so I'm not against doing this if this will help as far as protection goes.

    How easy is it for someone to find out your real name? I mean, when you copyright it, if you put your real name and your pen name (in case issues come up later if it's your actual work or not), I would assume this is public record that someone can easily look up. Would it honestly take much effort for someone to find out your real name even if you use a pen name?

    If you have a pen name that you want to keep under wraps, how difficult does it make it to tell your friends about your new published book without them blowing your cover?

    Any experiences, comments, and advice about pen names are welcome :)
     
  2. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Laurin Kelly, if you're not busy I suspect you know quite a few of the answers to these questions.
     
  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    And on a personal note, Iain Aschendale is a pen name. The first part is an homage to my favorite author, the late Iain M. Banks, and the second part is private. At the time I debuted it, there was only one other google hit for "Aschendale," which is exactly what I was looking for: exclusivity. Kinda hard to spell (vs "Stephen or was it Steven King) but some day I hope to see it in print.

    I'm an educator. I don't need my students googling my name and finding my oddball hobby, thank you. For the determined sleuth it's pretty transparent, but for the casual seeker from my real life it won't pop up right off the bat.
     
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  4. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    Well, what are our usernames here if not pen names? We're all (essentially) writing anonymously, and for the most part, I find that when I do meet people in-person, they often just call me by whatever name they learned to call me first (be it "Mana" or my real name!) The logistics for pen names, from what I understand, are simply that any checks would be written out to your real name, and you don't really need to "trademark" your name even if you do become super popular... there are deep-buried rules in regards to names that, so long as you USE the name, it is yours (of course, this wouldn't exclude others from having your same name, and honestly, anyone who would go after someone with a trademark claim for the name "John Smith" has too much time on their hands... looking at you, Disney, for thinking the name "Rapunzel" is something you own just because you made the movie Tangled...) and as regards any potential contracts, I have read plenty of contracts where the author's name is nothing near what we print on the books; the check gets made out to them all the same regardless of whose name is on the cover, because it's the individual signing who agreed to the contract. Unless you truly do want to have a legal second name, in which case, perhaps call the local court house?

    If you plan to sell your book to anyone, as opposed to anonymously self-publish, just gotta accept the fact that *someone* in the world is going to know your name. And if you don't want your friends and family to spill the beans (if they aren't so completely disinterested that they forget you even write, much less have published a book) then just ask them not to spread it around, and maybe consider not telling that super chatty grandma who strikes up a conversation with anyone she sees at the park?

    Since you are just starting out, consider trying on a few different names for size and see what feels right! More than just protection from "enthusiastic" readers, pen names have been used for reasons like a male writer not wanting to be disregarded for writing a chick flick-esque romance novel; whatever your reason for having one, I wish you all the best :)
     
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  5. Kstaraga

    Kstaraga Member

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    Thank you, Mana, for putting a lot of this into perspective for me =) a lot of good questions to think about here.
     
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  6. Underneath

    Underneath Member

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    I plan on breaking the mold and using the same moniker I use for my solo music. It ties the work together to my other output which would be great for branding/promotion purposes and it’s also something I don’t see done a lot outside of autobiographies.
     
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  7. Kstaraga

    Kstaraga Member

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    Sounds like a neat idea!
     
  8. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    No problem! I actually tried out a formal pen name at one time (River Sheffield) and found that it just didn't suit me... by that time my online handle had become more or less synonymous with me for anyone who knew my writing anyway, and three names just seemed a bit excessive, haha!
     
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  9. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    So long as your music and writing has the same general audience, seems like a great idea to me! Now, if your music were country and your writing primarily lovecraftian horror, that might be a different story...
     
  10. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Unless they come out with a second volume of this anthology:

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    Ask the internet and it shall appear :superlaugh: A niche audience to be sure, but it does exist! Allow me to grab my guitar and we'll head to some desolate and icy mountains, Iain!

    But seriously, so long as you can imagine the same type of person enjoying your music as enjoys your writing and vice versa, go for it, Underneath!
     
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  12. Bowie_the_Birb

    Bowie_the_Birb Member

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    I think it's great that you're taking your safety into account when you decided to use a pen name.
    I'm not saying your writing is bad, but on the possibility of someone disliking it, they wouldn't know who you were, and a pen name in that situation would be beyond helpful.
    As far as finding a pen name, it can be a "normal" name that a human would use or it can be something completely unique! I myself am highly considering using a pen name. If I use one, I might even use the name of a character in another story! Your pen name can be super creative, and it can just be an abbreviation. You can use literally anything. I don't have an example of a pen name I use other than Bowie - it is not my real name, it is what my friends call me and it is the name of a bird on Youtube, despite most people thinking it's from "David Bowie." Bowie is the name I use everywhere online as well. These next examples are not pen names, but are names I have that would make a cool pseudonym. There's Kinto, my dragon sculpture; Jeordi and Pearl, some of my birds; David Brown, a character of mine who shares my last name; and the main character of another story, Rudi, whose full name is Rudolph A. D'Anver, a girl whose last name is a chicken breed, and her name can be abbreviated to R.A.D.A.
    Just some examples to get a little creativity flowing!
     
  13. Kstaraga

    Kstaraga Member

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    Never thought of using one from one of my own characters. Unique idea!

    The one I am pondering upon sounds like a name that sounds like a real name, I suppose I need to ponder upon it a bit more before using it, but there are some good tips here =) thanks!
     
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