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Thread: Problems using a pen name when publishing?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    Problems using a pen name when publishing?

    I'm just wondering what issues I may run into if I publish through kindle and smashwords using a pen name?

    I've been reading posts on google that things can get very tricky depending on the platform you use.

    Such as cheques arriving under the pen name instead of your real name, resulting in problems with banks etc.

    I plan on using a pen name for my work, but I'm not sure how simple this will really end up being.

  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Your account will always be under your real name. Both systems have separate fields for account/legal name and author/pen name. If you fill them out right, there should be no problem.

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW mshaw2268's Avatar
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    I think with Smashwords, you have to create a separate account; just use your real name in the info asking for payment details.

    You can use pen names under one Amazon account, but I don't know if those names get an Author page. I've heard some say yes, while others say no.
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  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin itzrissa2u's Avatar
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    You can also get a business account under your penname and then you can deposit checks, etc.

    I did this not only for payments for articles and stories, but for contests, like the writers weekly 24hr short story contest so I could pay with my credit/debit card under my pen name.

    Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Chase bank gave me a hard time about it- but US Bank had no problem with me opening a business account.

    I got an EIN so I didn't have to give out my social for any accounts. it's free, and I did it online here... http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-...rs-%28EINs%29-

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW RobertEvert's Avatar
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    This is all good advice. Thanks, everybody. I had an issue with a stalker after my first book, so I've been considering publishing under a different name. I'm glad I read your posts.

  6. #6
    (author name Shad Callister) ScottB's Avatar
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    Aside from the mechanics of it, be aware that using a pen name has costs. Your new pen name probably doesn't have any social networking clout at all yet, so you're starting from scratch and won't be able to use your family and friends and their networks.

    Also, the time you spend setting up and maintaining all those accounts for your pen name in addition to accounts you may have for your real name is time you won't be writing or actually marketing. It doesn't seem like much, but realize that every time you want to check your pen name's email/sales numbers/facebook, you're going to have to log out of your real name accounts and log back in with the pen name. It's a pain.

    I put a pen name on my book because I cowrote it and we thought marketing would be harder with multiple author names (better name recognition with a single, snappy pseudonym) but it has its costs. I tell people about my book offline and they're like "Wait, who's Shad Callister? Is that you?"
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW TroyJackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottB View Post
    Aside from the mechanics of it, be aware that using a pen name has costs. Your new pen name probably doesn't have any social networking clout at all yet, so you're starting from scratch and won't be able to use your family and friends and their networks.

    Also, the time you spend setting up and maintaining all those accounts for your pen name in addition to accounts you may have for your real name is time you won't be writing or actually marketing. It doesn't seem like much, but realize that every time you want to check your pen name's email/sales numbers/facebook, you're going to have to log out of your real name accounts and log back in with the pen name. It's a pain.

    I put a pen name on my book because I cowrote it and we thought marketing would be harder with multiple author names (better name recognition with a single, snappy pseudonym) but it has its costs. I tell people about my book offline and they're like "Wait, who's Shad Callister? Is that you?"
    Yep. Definitely what I'm finding out. Not the worst thing (having a pen name), but it can be a pain at times. And I don't just mean the occasional friend/family member asking, "Who's Troy Jackson?" or "Why did you use a pen name?" I feel like breaking out a tape recorder and playing the same answers...

    But yeah, the swapping back-and-forth between email accounts and Facebook is a real pain. I didn't bother using Twitter with my real name, so at least Twitter is ALLLLL pen name.
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  8. #8
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    I'm going to publish under a pen name also, and thought I'd ask here than open up another thread on this forum.

    I have decided not to buy a block of ISBN’s from the agency, but instead to use CS’s “Custom ISBN*” https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ISBNs.jsp and preferably SmashWords “Premium ISBN” if it becomes available http://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/ISBNManager (no. 3).

    I’m not going to use a new imprint under my original publisher name because the ISBN prefix would be the same, but would there be advantages in setting up as a new publisher and having own ISBN’s compared to all of the above? like control over my own ISBN's? With the above method I think I could always unpublish if I want?

    Anyone know?
    If you think Amazon vs Giants is bad, do you think that Amazon vs Self-publishers would be better?

  9. #9
    Hmmm... I think I disagree. Captcha's Avatar
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    You can address the social media/e-mail nuisance by using different browsers for different identities. IE for personal, Chrome for your penname, or whatever. I have a few pennames and that's how I handle it.

    In terms of unpublishing, Arpeggio, it depends what you mean by the term. If you self-publish, you can take the book off the market whenever you want, although it will take some time for various vendors to comply. But whatever copies of your book were sold will still be out there. Your book has been published, and that can't really be reversed...

  10. #10
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    Thanks for your advice. So it looks like getting ISBNís from Smashwords or CS is closer to getting ones own ISBNís in terms of control IĎd have, all be it that I would be limited to their platforms and distributors which is fine.


    A bit of a tangent; What about sticking on a second pen name for an authors one imprint, Written by ____ and ____, or even three? lol. If one name is more significant than the others in terms of finding out who you are it might work?, if all equally then of course it wouldn't.
    If you think Amazon vs Giants is bad, do you think that Amazon vs Self-publishers would be better?

  11. #11
    Hmmm... I think I disagree. Captcha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arpeggio View Post
    Thanks for your advice. So it looks like getting ISBNís from Smashwords or CS is closer to getting ones own ISBNís in terms of control IĎd have, all be it that I would be limited to their platforms and distributors which is fine.


    A bit of a tangent; What about sticking on a second pen name for an authors one imprint, Written by ____ and ____, or even three? lol. If one name is more significant than the others in terms of finding out who you are it might work?, if all equally then of course it wouldn't.
    I'm not quite sure what you mean, but I'd be careful about getting into anything that seems like deception. Pen names are an accepted literary tradition; adding imaginary co-authors doesn't have the same level of acceptance. And I can't really think of why it would be effective, to be honest.

  12. #12
    Smooth Operator TheKoB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arpeggio View Post
    Thanks for your advice. So it looks like getting ISBNís from Smashwords or CS is closer to getting ones own ISBNís in terms of control IĎd have, all be it that I would be limited to their platforms and distributors which is fine.


    A bit of a tangent; What about sticking on a second pen name for an authors one imprint, Written by ____ and ____, or even three? lol. If one name is more significant than the others in terms of finding out who you are it might work?, if all equally then of course it wouldn't.
    I have only rarely seen fiction books that are written by multiple authors and honestly I was rather put off by it. Maybe I want my books to be just the expression of one single person...I really can't point my finger at what's making a book by multiple authors weird for me, but I guess I am not the only one that feels this way.

    As Captcha said, you should refrain from doing it if unnecessary.
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  13. #13
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    OK thanks just curious.
    If you think Amazon vs Giants is bad, do you think that Amazon vs Self-publishers would be better?

  14. #14
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    I have heard of cheques arriving under the pen name but this has so far not happened to me. :-) I also read that their could be a problem if you died with your heirs not getting royalties on books under a pen name although from what Emily said this should not happen.
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  15. #15
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    What about giving your pen name a PhD?

    lol
    If you think Amazon vs Giants is bad, do you think that Amazon vs Self-publishers would be better?

  16. #16
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Arpeggio View Post
    What about giving your pen name a PhD?

    lol

    Strongly discouraged... Unethical, to say the least, and in some jurisdictions, that would be considered fraud if you (your real persona, that is) haven't earned it.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I also planned on using a pen name. More for privacy purposes than anything. I'd like the line between author and my personal life not to blur. The biggest challenge I'm finding right now since know one knows it's me is the beginning stages of the whole marketing aspect. There is no one linked to my pen name. No fan base, critics, nada. I think self publishing a free book on Amazon would help with that.

    I know it's going to be harder to start that way, but I think it will be worth it.

    Setting up a small business once you become established seems like an interesting idea...

  18. #18
    Easily Amused ebbrown's Avatar
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    I have had no issue using Amazon & Smashwords with a pen name. The checks are direct deposited to my bank account under my legal name.

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  19. #19
    Miss Conceived Liralen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arpeggio View Post
    What about giving your pen name a PhD?

    lol
    As in "Piled Higher and Deeper?"
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liralen View Post
    As in "Piled Higher and Deeper?"
    Almost but no. It's "Person of high Dopeyness".
    If you think Amazon vs Giants is bad, do you think that Amazon vs Self-publishers would be better?

  21. #21
    Ooo! Shiny new cover! Absolute Sage Cathy C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKoB View Post
    I have only rarely seen fiction books that are written by multiple authors
    I've written with a co-author--both under a pseudonym and having both of our names on the cover, for over a decade.

    If there really is a second person (rather than you and your own pseudonym) participating, I highly recommend a co-author agreement that sets out how income (and costs) will be managed. A number of online entities are happy to write a contract to one or two or ten people, but will only send money to ONE person. That person is then responsible to get the money to the others, and the publisher/distributor wouldn't be liable to any of the co-authors.

    In our case, we have an agent who receives the funds from the publisher and splits them into separate checks. They also handle separate 1099 income reports at the end of the year.
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