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popmuze
01-27-2016, 06:13 PM
If you were planning to adopt a pseudonym for the novel you're querying, would you mention it in the query? How would you put it? Would you have to reveal your real name?

Kerosene
01-27-2016, 06:17 PM
Query under your real name and when an agent offers representation or publisher offers contract, speak to them about it.

Maggie Maxwell
01-27-2016, 06:22 PM
Yep, Will's nailed it. The agent/publisher/writer relationship is a business one, and you want to start that relationship honest. Use your real name to establish contact, and then discuss pseudonyms once the contract's offered. If you get paid through checks, they must be in your real name for you to cash them.

Cyia
01-27-2016, 06:29 PM
When I queried, I signed off like this:

Sincerely,

Pen Name (pen name for Real Name)

Another variation would be: Real Name (writing as: Pen Name)

The pen name was the one on my blog, and the one I used for social media. I had become a regular poster on several agent blogs, and some of the agents had visited my blog in response. It would have been silly to leave it off of the queries. You use the name you're known by.

popmuze
01-27-2016, 06:29 PM
If previous agents are responding to the fact that none of your other books have sold very well would writing this one under a pseudonym make them feel like you were starting with a clean slate? Or would it just be an automatic rejection for already being a problem when they haven't even looked at your pages yet? What I'm saying is, how do you solve the problem of having a miserable track record, other than beginning to query with a new name?

Cyia
01-27-2016, 06:29 PM
Of course.

Kerosene
01-27-2016, 06:31 PM
Can you mention in the query that you want to write this book under a pseudonym?

Is there a specific point in doing so?

Unless you have an audience under that name already that your book will serve for, there's no point in mentioning your wish of a pseudonym in the query letter.

EDIT: Didn't read previous posts. Yeah, Cyia is the exception here. Pre-established audience and notoriety.

popmuze
01-27-2016, 06:35 PM
Query under your real name and when an agent offers representation or publisher offers contract, speak to them about it.
If agents were offering me representation or publishers offering me contracts I wouldn't need a pseudonym.

Cyia
01-27-2016, 06:36 PM
If agents were offering me representation or publishers offering me contracts I wouldn't need a pseudonym.

DON'T phrase it that way!

popmuze
01-27-2016, 06:43 PM
DON'T phrase it that way! I'm open to suggestions on how to phrase the fact that I want to use a pseudonym in my query.

popmuze
01-27-2016, 06:44 PM
Is there a specific point in doing so?

Because I don't want to be rejected on the basis of my real name's track record of poor sales.

Cyia
01-27-2016, 06:48 PM
I'm open to suggestions on how to phrase the fact that I want to use a pseudonym in my query.

You don't need to explain it. Just sign your pen name, put a parenthetical beside it to give your real name, and if a requesting agent asks, then you can go into the details of your publication history and why you think a new name might be beneficial.

Kerosene
01-27-2016, 06:57 PM
Because I don't want to be rejected on the basis of my real name's track record of poor sales.

Poor sales as in what?

ElaineA
01-27-2016, 07:24 PM
Cyia's advice in post 12--the play it cool method--is sound

The thing is, let's say you only use your shiny new pen name, an agent reads your pages and considers offering you rep. They poke around the internet a little, find nothing (like...nothing, not a social media account, nor website nor evidence of your existence), but they give you a call anyway, and THEN you have to admit your legal name. Because you will have to give your legal name. You have to sign contracts with your legal name. Now you've started the relationship by trying to pass off a lie. You can't honestly be surprised if the agent decides to think again about rep. IDK, to me it wouldn't bode well.

If your manuscript stands out and you are offered rep, the agent is your best friend in finding ways to minimize the impact of your history. I know from other threads you're frustrated by the close-but-no-cigar responses you've gotten to your queries, but it's MSS first, second and third, and your name and publishing history somewhere much farther down the line of things an agent is considering at the query/read fulls stage.

CL Polk
01-27-2016, 07:51 PM
The pen name comes afterward, I'm afraid.

RKarina
01-27-2016, 08:24 PM
I'm with the others here - even if you already use a pseudonym under which you have a significant following. A query is a business letter, and signing with an agent, or a publishing house, is a legal contract that must be done under your legal name.

If you have a following under your pen name, by all means, include it. Otherwise... well... just use the legal name and let your manuscript speak for itself. Agents and publishers both have seen authors whose initial sales were horrid but who later went on to write pieces that sold well. When you get interest from an agent or publisher, that is the time to start talking using a pen name.

My contract with my publisher included both my legal name and the pen name under which the book would be published.

Curlz
01-27-2016, 08:33 PM
First of all let me say you need not worry about your name. At all. There are writers with names plain as dirt. Joe Hill for example, not a remarkable name, and reading just the name you wouldn't expect a simple Joe to be able to scare you but actually, he's a very successful horror writer. Some genres do have their expectations. "Lemony Snicket" is a fantastic name for his genre, most people would indeed pick a book just because of an interesting author's name - but they will (absolutely sure about it) put the book down if the contents of the book do not uphold the already stirred interest.


There are also authors with rather funny names, like "Banana Yoshimoto", or "Mildred Moody Nutter" (she writes math books - no laughing matter there!). You'd also think "Gerald Bastard" would have used a pseudonym but he didn't.


Of course you can use a pseudonym. There are no rules about it, it's a free country. If you want you could mention it in your very first contact with the agent, or at a later time when your work is already accepted. I can assure you that if your work is good the agent would not refuse it just because of your name. And vice versa, a rubbish book would not be put on sale even if the author's name was great.


You could use your pseudonym in your query without mentioning your real name at all! Well, maybe you'll need to put your real name in the return address but sometimes you don't have to do even that. Or, you could just mention, "I would like this book to be published with my penname, Pseudo Nym the Third." (or the other ways already mentioned in this thread). No big deal at all.

popmuze
01-27-2016, 09:06 PM
Poor sales as in what?
Poor sales as in previous books in the same genre a few years ago.

veinglory
01-27-2016, 09:35 PM
I generally sign off as

Jane Doe, writing as Emily Veinglory

Jamesaritchie
01-28-2016, 05:30 AM
Poor sales as in previous books in the same genre a few years ago.

Your agent needs to know your real name. That much is a given. But there is no reason for your agent to tell anyone else your real name. There is a reason to make sure you can legally use your pseudonym as a business name. You need to do some serious research in this. It can get complicated, and can even depend on where you live. But it's worth doing for a number of reasons. One is privacy, and another is poor sales.

Having said this, an agent doesn't have to mention your real name to a publisher until after the publisher loves your book.

But as I said, it can get complicated, so do your research, and trust your agent.

Cyia
01-28-2016, 05:33 AM
Having said this, an agent doesn't have to mention your real name to a publisher until after the publisher loves your book.



Absolutely. There was an article three or four years ago about a woman whose book didn't get any interest when it went on sub, due to poor sales of prior works. She and her agent came up with a pen name and sent the book back out. It sold for six figures in a matter of days to one of the publishers that had passed.

Roxxsmom
01-28-2016, 05:40 AM
There are a number of authors who have "reinvented themselves" by coming up with different pen names for similar reasons. Sometimes it's even just a matter of writing to somewhat different audiences under different names. One example is Robin Hobb, who published some earlier books as Meghan Lindholm. The Hobb books seem to be better known, but the Lindholm books have a very different style of narrative and aren't the same kind of sweeping fantasy epics.

Also, there's Katherine Addison, whose recent book The Goblin Emperor did pretty well. She published several stories and books as Sarah Monette (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Monette) previously.

I think you're supposed to query with your real name, though of course you could use initials or a nickname. But when you sign a contract, you're supposed to use your real, legal name.

Old Hack
01-28-2016, 11:00 AM
Query under your own name, and if you want to use a pseudonym at that stage use something like, "popmuse, writing as Someone Else". Your agent has to know your real name. If and when you find a new agent who loves your work, tell them your history and ask if the use of a pseudonym will help you. Accept their advice.