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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Self Publishing with a Fake Name

   
Author Topic: Self Publishing with a Fake Name
Wannabe
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I have a couple of things I'd like to write and self publish to Kindle and smashwords. The trick is, I already have some stuff out on both of those connected to my actual name, and these new projects are more opinionated and I don't want them to affect the very neutral tone of my existing work. So I'd like to write them under a pseudonym and not have them be associated with my other work. My questions are:

1. Can I do this?
2. Can I still get paid?
3. If the work is for profit, is it possible for people to check some kind of records or database to see that my actual name is the person getting paid for my fake name's work?
4. How does copyright work when I am copyrighting something but publishing it under a fake name?
5. Is it possible for me to protect my identity or will there always be a way for someone to figure out the person behind the fake name?

Thanks in advance.

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KayTi
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People do this all the time. Most indie authors I know have more than one pseudonym going at once. Some keep them secret, some the secret is out, some use the "XYZ, writing as ABC"

It's all up to you.

Yes, you can do it. Yes, you can still get paid. Yes, you can still maintain your own copyright on it (authors have been doing this forever, ever heard of Mark Twain to name just one?)

As for "word getting out" -- read the terms of service on Kindle and Smashwords to fully understand. My understanding of the mechanics are that you'd publish under your own account, but you'd use a different "author name" when publishing.

If you really are fearful of any connection between your main author name and your pseudonym, you could set up a second account on each system but it gets pretty complicated in the requirements for another email address, bank account information, etc. I personally would not go to that extent.

Good luck. But short answer - yes yes yes, and read the Terms of Service.

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redux
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From the US copyright office on use of pseudonyms:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl101.html

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extrinsic
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For maximum legal privacy protection consider filing a doing business as (DBA) or alias declaration with your local muncipality.

I have a dozen or so e-mail addresses linked to several proprietary domain names. All but one are aliased. My personal account is my given name at surname dot protocol. Only legitimate, legal processes can access the personal contact information.

With a DBA, financials, copyright registration, and all or any statutory process legalities are met. A DBA, while of public record, cannot be accessed by superficial interests. There must be a legal reason given for an official to release the information. However, officials' ethics conformance varies.

A DBA is essentially a legal entity, similar to a corporation, or LLC, or partnership, usually used by sole proprietors for statutory processes. A DBA can't vote nor serve time nor marry, etc., but it enjoys most other legal entity rights, and obligations.

There is a way for the public to figure out it's moi, though: my writing voice is suiffciently unique that discerning readers figure it out or at least confidently suspect they know. I don't like to be outed, and will nor can either confirm nor deny this is me.

[ January 18, 2012, 01:32 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Lloyd Tackitt
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I learned a long time ago, don't publish something you are not fully willing to acknowledge as yours. Don't send an email you wouldn't want your mother to read. Don't write a letter that confesses to something you don't want to be associated with.

If you truly don't want to be connected to what you have written in public, don't publish it. Sooner or later you will regret it, somehow, someway that stuff always comes home to roost.

Technically you can do it, it is ethical, and it is moral and it is also legal. But karma will get you.

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redux
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Lloyd - sometimes writers like to use pseudonyms when they decide to write for a different genre and don't wish to alienate their existing reader base. For example, Nora Roberts is known as a romance writer. Under her pseudonym J.D. Robb she writes erotic thrillers. Sometimes multiple writers publish under a single name. There are many reasons to use a pseudonym that has nothing to do with feeling embarrassed about one's writing, that shouldn't lead to regrets, or as you put it, karmic retribution.

Also, if you believe it is ethical, moral and legal, why do you think it would be bad karma? Aren't you contradicting yourself?

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Lloyd Tackitt
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redux you see that Nora Roberts is known as J.D. Robb. The pseudonym is known.

If it is just a matter of separating genres, no big deal. If it is a matter of being embarassed, I wouldn't do it.

Wannabe doesn't describe in detail how strongly he doesn't want the writing associated with him, so I am just speculating. But suppose he had strong views on a sensitive topic, say like race or religion. Suppose he wanted to express those views, but didn't want the blowback to come back to him, so he uses a pen name.

I am just saying that some day, some how, it's coming back to him. Karma was the wrong word for me to use, I meant to imply nothing other than - we can't keep secrets in this age.

I promise you - never put in writing something you may someday wish you hadn't put into writing.

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Rhaythe
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When you publish under Kindle (KDP), you assign a contributor to a given work. That contributor is given a "role", typically author. This is the name KDP will put the work under. Once your work has been published by KDP, you go into Kindle's Author Central, register, then tell it to tie your author profile with the existing works.

From there, Amazon just pays your dividends directly to your account of choice. Your pen name (even if it's your real name) only exists as a label.

Smashwords is a similar process. You register your profile, tie it to a bank and/or Paypal account. Then, when you go to submit your word doc, you specify the author's name you wish to use. Same deal. Seems to work pretty well.

Hope that helps.

EDIT: Looks like I was mistaken about Smashwords. It automagically assigns your author name based on your Smashwords profile. Though, just register under your pen name, and voila (that's what I'm doing).

[ January 18, 2012, 03:51 PM: Message edited by: Rhaythe ]

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Wannabe
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Wow so many great responses, and so quickly. Thank you, everybody! This is truly a fantastic little community here.
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