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Thread: Will publishing erotica hurt my chances at grad school?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Will publishing erotica hurt my chances at grad school?

    Hey, all. I am thinking about publishing erotica (under a pen name) on Amazon KDP. But since we do have to put our legal names and SSN on here as well, is it possible that grad schools or employers--when doing background checks, etc--would connect me to the stories and look unfavorably upon it?

    I am particularly concerned because I'm going into the education field...but I really would like to try my hand at it too. I already have several stories and even a couple 30,000+ novellas that I'd like to publish.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
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    jeeze I would hope that would be private info, hopefully someone who knows can answer this for you. I plan on using a pen name so hopefully my real name stays private unless I want to release it.

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  3. #3
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I think the answers you got on the KDP forum were pretty on the money. If you don't choose to tell people, there is very little chance they will find out.
    Emily Veinglory

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hey, Emily! Good to see you're here too, haha.

    Yeah, I thought the answers on the KDP forum were good, but I wanted to see if any other writers here could either confirm or deny what most people over there said. Because according to my own research, your SSN will be linked to any alias you use too, so it would be quite easy for them to look up my pen name and see what I write...?

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flambeau View Post
    Because according to my own research, your SSN will be linked to any alias you use too, so it would be quite easy for them to look up my pen name and see what I write...?
    I have a publishing company as an LLC, so I don't use my SSN on the KDP tax form. However, even if you did, how is anyone going to search and link your SSN with the pen name? That information is held on the KDP servers. Short of a massive data breach, nobody else will have that information.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    For tax purposes, you provide Amazon your real name and SSN, but that's not information that's out there for anyone to see. If you had an employer situation where someone demanded to see your tax returns (which would be rare), it's possible they would see that you'd been paid by Amazon for books, but they wouldn't be able to see what those books were. If you incorporate use a DBA or form an LLC, those can be public records in which case you could end up linking your pen name to your real name. Also, if you put a copyright notice into the book using your real name, that could link back to you. But if you publish direct on Amazon, stick to ebooks, and put the copyright notice under your pen name, there's no reason for them to ever know. What's more likely to trip you up is if you tell anyone in your real life about it, like when you get to school and have friends and go out one night and jokingly mention that you write X type of erotica.

  7. #7
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    How would your SSN be linked to your pen name? Only the people sending you money need to know who you are, and they will not make that public.

    If any author here has been outed by KDP then they can chime in, but I have never heard of it. And something that has never happened before to their million or so publishers is unlikely to happen to you.
    Last edited by veinglory; 10-13-2017 at 01:48 AM.
    Emily Veinglory

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    They'd pretty much have to be looking specifically to see what you wrote, and "writing credentials" aren't required on grad school applications (not to mention, tax returns aren't public record. You can't just run a check to see someone's income sources). Apart from checking to confirm you're legally permitted to study in the US, and maybe run credit checks related to student aid, I can't imagine why a grad school would even be researching your SSN. (Anybody here have experience working in a grad school who can chime in)?

    I perform a lot of background checks at my job (nothing fancy, just standard credit and/or criminal history reports). Neither kind of report would contain information about books you'd written. Add in the extra layer of a pen name so the work doesn't show up in a Google name search, and you ought to be fine.

    Lol, if you wanted to go super-paranoid, you could also give all your work really innocuous titles. That way anyone performing a google search who managed to discover your pen name would just see that you wrote "Feather in a Waterfall" or something like that, and might completely miss that it's erotica. (Don't do this. It's overkill and unnecessary... just an amusing thought).
    Last edited by Tazlima; 10-13-2017 at 02:16 AM.
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  9. #9
    reading all the things Anna Iguana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flambeau View Post
    Hey, all. I am thinking about publishing erotica (under a pen name) on Amazon KDP. But since we do have to put our legal names and SSN on here as well, is it possible that grad schools or employers--when doing background checks, etc--would connect me to the stories and look unfavorably upon it?

    I am particularly concerned because I'm going into the education field...but I really would like to try my hand at it too.
    I was listening to a writing podcast today, and an author was asked to name the biggest mistake she'd made all year. The author, who's been self-publishing books for several years, said something like, "I accidentally posted erotica under the wrong name on Amazon, and I didn't realize my mistake right away."

    I haven't published on Amazon, but a couple of times, small publishers have posted my personal email address and the name of my small hometown... info that, quite intentionally, isn't in my bio. I didn't find out right away, either.

    Facebook is where romance readers are; if you want to publicize your erotica, you'll probably want to be there. I cleared the cookies from my browser; created a Facebook account using my pen name, a new email address, and no personal information; then, I created an author page. Result? Facebook recognized my identity anyway and recommended my author page to real-life colleagues. (Gizmodo also wrote about this problem yesterday.)

    You're about to spend goodness-knows-how-much time/money/life to go into education. I gather you've joined more than one writers' forum to ask about privacy--you know education and erotica is a sensitive combination. Maybe Amazon is foolproof, but in my experience, privacy is only as good as humans protecting privacy, and humans continually make mistakes.
    Last edited by Anna Iguana; 10-13-2017 at 04:15 AM. Reason: hmm, Gizmodo link isn't working

  10. #10
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    The risk isn't that someone will hack Amazon and get your payment details from there. It's that someone you tell will tell other people. If you avoid Facebook, avoid any promotion or conventions that will need real names, and don't tell people you know, the chances are pretty small of someone finding out. It's possible, but not likely.

    Where most people fall down is they feel they must tell someone. You can't assume that friends and family will understand why it might be an issue.
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  11. #11
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    I agree with everyone about the word getting out when you tell people. It's why I'm so cagey about the ghostwriting I do. I've seen many people linked to the pseudonyms they thought they'd locked down completely safely, and it's almost always been because someone they had told couldn't keep it to themselves.

    However, a few cases have been discovered by sleuthing, so be careful. Consider how bad it would be if your employers found out about your pen-name: how big is the risk? Are you likely to do well enough with your writing to make that risk worthwhile?

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks for the replies!

    I think I'm going to at least wait until I've already been accepted to grad school before I start publishing my stories. Because if I didn't get into a certain school, I would always wonder "was it POSSIBLY because of...?" Even though I know it's extremely unlikely.

    As for the word getting out because of me telling someone, I'm honestly not worried about that. I'm an expert secret-keeper, and I don't feel the need to tell anyone about this side gig.

  13. #13
    I want one for Christmas!! VV c.m.n.'s Avatar
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    Just to chime in, I've seen (online) many teachers who write erotic romance or erotica under a pen name. Of course, they don't tell anyone in real life and only reveal the secret in private forums. But it's very common and they haven't had any problems.

    And to repeat what Anna Iguana said above, if you're really concerned about it, you can clear cookies and use separate emails/accounts for all your stuff related in your pen name. Matter of fact, you can go one step further and use an entirely different browser.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.m.n. View Post
    And to repeat what Anna Iguana said above, if you're really concerned about it, you can clear cookies and use separate emails/accounts for all your stuff related in your pen name. Matter of fact, you can go one step further and use an entirely different browser.
    I recall a story about a retired porn star who had a career with a funeral parlor, and even though she was very careful indeed about keeping her IDs separate, someone found a link. I don’t recall what it was, but it was remarkable and showed a great deal of digging effort was involved.

  15. #15
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Others have given good advice here. I have another question, though: how likely is penning some erotica under a psedonym (or even one's own name) would be something people on a grad school admissions committee are looking out for or concerned about? I can't speak for everyone with background in academia, but I somehow found out a student did something like that, I'd shrug. Maybe it would be more of an issue if one is applying to religious schools or interested in entering certain professions, like teaching K-12 or something?

    Is there something in writing in the admissions requirements or student code of conduct about the kind of private personal behavior would bar an applicant on these grounds or be an expellable offense for a student at a given school? I'm pretty sure writing erotica in one's off-campus life isn't mentioned in any of the schools I've been associated with, though there are rules about displaying or printing "offensive" graphics or material on campus computers.

    I suppose one never knows who the people who have input about prospective grad schools might be and what kinds of things freaks them out, but I think a lot of things would have to converge for it to affect the process.

    Of course, there's always a small chance someone at some school you're interested in could find out and have a figurative litter of kittens over it, so you have to decide whether it's worth even a small risk.
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  16. #16
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    Unless your major at grad school is theology, I doubt it is going to make a bit of difference even if 'they' knew about it. That coupled with the excellent responses you received earlier suggest that you are being over paranoid.

    But it is an impacted genre. Keep that in mind.

  17. #17
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    Is there something in writing in the admissions requirements or student code of conduct about the kind of private personal behavior would bar an applicant on these grounds or be an expellable offense for a student at a given school? I'm pretty sure writing erotica in one's off-campus life isn't mentioned in any of the schools I've been associated with, though there are rules about displaying or printing "offensive" graphics or material on campus computers.
    There are cases of people getting fired because they write erotica. It's not right to assume erotica writers are all sexual predators, but it happens, so I can understand why people are cautious. It doesn't have to be written into an official code of conduct for it to be what happens.
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