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View Full Version : Changing how I use my real name; is this a problem in submissions?



Sean D. Schaffer
11-19-2006, 03:11 AM
Hi everyone,


I thought the best place to put this would be here, since submissions are part of just about every kind of writing there is.

I want to change how I use my real name when I submit my works to agents and/or editors. What I want to do is take my first name and make it an initial, and then take my middle initial and spell out the full middle name.

I do not know if this would be a problem or not to publishers, as my legal signature uses my full first name and my middle initial. Would publishers have a problem with me using my first name's initial and my full middle name instead?


Any help will be highly appreciated. Thank you all in advance.

veinglory
11-19-2006, 03:14 AM
You could either explain this preference after the manuscript is accepted or list the alternative version as your 'pen name'. I can't see it being a problem.

Little Red Barn
11-19-2006, 03:32 AM
Ian are you going to submit this and have it published in a pseudonym. The way I understand it, the proper format would be Pseudonym at the top of each page and your real name in caps beside it...Somebody come in and correct me if I am wrong. The agent has to have your real name:) to give you your check... like Mary Smith ( Kimmi 57). I have this at the top right of each of my ms pages....Now when its copyrighted there is a special section just for this. Also I sign every query letter in my legal name. Hope this helps, sure someone will come along shortly, kimmi

Sean D. Schaffer
11-20-2006, 03:04 AM
Ian are you going to submit this and have it published in a pseudonym. The way I understand it, the proper format would be Pseudonym at the top of each page and your real name in caps beside it...Somebody come in and correct me if I am wrong. The agent has to have your real name:) to give you your check... like Mary Smith ( Kimmi 57). I have this at the top right of each of my ms pages....Now when its copyrighted there is a special section just for this. Also I sign every query letter in my legal name. Hope this helps, sure someone will come along shortly, kimmi


Yes, I'm going to be writing under a pseudonym. The reason I wanted to know about changing my real name, is that I want to change the first name I go by in signing documents and stuff like that. I have a friend who uses his first initial and his full middle name because he does not like his full first name. That's what I want to do. I want to sign my real name using my first initial and middle name along with my last name, instead of using my first name and middle initial with my last name.

It sounds a bit confusing to explain it, so I'll give a generic example:


John S. Doe wants to change how he signs his name. He wants to sign his name as J. Stephen Doe. How would he go about making this legal?

Carrie in PA
11-20-2006, 03:09 AM
John S. Doe wants to change how he signs his name. He wants to sign his name as J. Stephen Doe. How would he go about making this legal?

I don't think you have to *do* anything. If it's your legal name, like if your whole name is spelled out on your social security card or something, you don't have to officially do anything. The only problem I could forsee is cashing your checks... you'll probably need ID at your bank, which may list your "alias" on your accounts.

When I got married and took a different last name, even then it was easy as pie... just got a new ss card and drivers' license... I think that was about it.

Sassenach
11-20-2006, 03:18 AM
The format is:

Joe Smith w/a F.S. Muttley

"w/a" means "writing as."

Agents and editors are used to this; it's no big deal. Worry about it when your work is sold.

ORION
11-20-2006, 03:27 AM
My agent is giving me good input on what name I should publish under and your agent will also.

I agree with Sassenach - I wouldn't worry about anything until you get an agent/publisher. Your agent will need to know how you want your name on your checks...

Birol
11-20-2006, 03:47 AM
Ian, what you're talking about isn't a pseudonym. It's a different format of your legal name. It's no different than if I sign my name as Lori Basiewicz or Lori A. Basiewicz. Neither is my full legal name, which would have the middle name spelled out, but both pass muster and are easily recognizable as me.

Sean D. Schaffer
11-20-2006, 04:37 AM
Ian, what you're talking about isn't a pseudonym. It's a different format of your legal name.

Yes, that's correct. My username is actually my pseudonym. As for my real name, I do not like my real first name too much because I have a lot of emotional baggage attached to it from my childhood. I much prefer my middle name, because there is no abuse attached to it from earlier on in my lifetime.

Also, when using my first name, I have a tendency to go into situations with a chip on my shoulder. I find when using my middle name, I don't have so much of that problem.


It's no different than if I sign my name as Lori Basiewicz or Lori A. Basiewicz. Neither is my full legal name, which would have the middle name spelled out, but both pass muster and are easily recognizable as me.

Okay, cool. So I don't have to change my Social Security information or anything like that? That is awesome news. Thank you very much for your help.


On a side note, I want to thank Sassenach for the explanation on how to format the 'Writing as' issue. To be truthful about it, I never knew that format, so that information will definitely be valuable to me in my writing career. I appreciate it highly.

K1P1
11-20-2006, 04:25 PM
When I've signed contracts with my publisher, part of what I have to submit is a author info form that includes my legal name and SSN, the name as I want it to appear on the cover and title page of my book, and the name I want the copyright registered in (this could be a corporation, for example). Obviously, they are used to dealing with multiple names for an author.

You might want to consider the fact that you'll probably want the copyright to be registered under your full legal name. A reader who understands the ins and outs of this will guess, when they look at the copyright statement on the back of the title page, that it's your real name and that the name on the cover is a pseudonym.

Little Red Barn
11-20-2006, 06:07 PM
Ian, I am a middle name child, meaning that; eg... Kimmi Mary Smith, I always go by Mary...not by choice, its just the way my parents did it. A lot of non official documents that I sign are similiar to your situation. K Mary Smith. Legal and or official docs are different. I sign it the correct way. Kim M Smith!
Perhaps another solution would be to change your name legally. This is a very simple procedure that costs about $50.00 in my neck of the woods.
I had a friend change the spelling of her 1st name and had this done... why I don't know but it was her choice... going from Lisa to Leisa. You do not need an atty; this is something you can petition the courts with, on your own.
Also I find this interesting, You can legally pronounce your name any way you want...ie; I an, E on...
Now about the proper format...I went to www.eclectics.com/rebecca/setup.html (http://www.eclectics.com/rebecca/setup.html). I am sure there are many different ways and I can't say as to why I chose this site, but I like it and have used it. kimmi

JanDarby
11-20-2006, 10:24 PM
John S. Doe wants to change how he signs his name. He wants to sign his name as J. Stephen Doe. How would he go about making this legal?

You just do it. Use the preferred variation on your letterhead, in your contract, in your copyright application, everything.

As a general rule, in the US, you can use any name you want, as long as you're not trying to defraud anyone. (There was a case in the news recently, where a guy changed his name to Andy Griffith to run for sheriff, and that could be seen as fraudulent. He lost, anyway, so the issue's probably moot.)

I wouldn't consider it a pen name, and wouldn't bother with the w/a designation, but would just submit things as J. Stephen Doe (or whatever the real name is). As long as you give the correct SSN in your forms, you're not committing tax fraud. You shouldn't have trouble with the bank, either, since you'd just sign the back of the check, which was intended for you, as J. Stephen Doe, and deposit it into the John S. Doe bank account. Most of the time these days, the banks pay no attention to the actual names on deposited checks (unless they bounce or are somehow contested by the issuer), although sometimes they'll confirm that the payee and the signature on the back match. If you want a separate account for writing income and expenses, you might even find that the bank will allow you to open an account in the variation name, rather than the John S. Doe name, since it is a variation, not an entirely new name. I'm fairly sure that they open accounts in the name of "Suzy Q," when the official name is "Susan Q."

Your accountant might want you to put an a/k/a (also known as) on your income tax return, just to clarify why a 1099 might come in a variation of your name, but that's something to run by your accountant.

As always, rather than relying on legal discussion on a public board, before you do anything drastic, you should run the question past a lawyer with expertise with the legal issues of a small business, including things like d/b/a registration and aliases and banking.

JD, not giving individual advice, just general information.

priceless1
11-20-2006, 10:32 PM
I want to change how I use my real name when I submit my works to agents and/or editors... I do not know if this would be a problem or not to publishers, as my legal signature uses my full first name and my middle initial. Would publishers have a problem with me using my first name's initial and my full middle name instead?
It's not a problem at all, Ian. We have an author who switched her name around and created a pen name. Simply tell the editor your real name in your cover letter and tell them you write under a pseudonym. Obviously, you'll have to sign your legal name on the contract.

dobiwon
11-21-2006, 01:37 AM
Originally posted by JanDarby:

You just do it. Use the preferred variation on your letterhead, in your contract, in your copyright application, everything.

As a general rule, in the US, you can use any name you want, as long as you're not trying to defraud anyone.

This has always been my belief also. I think the purpose of a legal name is just to identify you, so whatever name you use, if you establish it as you, and you don't intend to defraud, it's all right. I don't think you need to 'legally change your name', although there are inexpensive mechanisms for doing that if you want to (as was pointed out by Kimmi).