Thursday, August 16, 2007

Revealing Your True Identity

I talked in an earlier post about sticking to a pseudonym. Once you have one it should be the name you use on all of your correspondence, conference name tags, and even when introducing yourself to people. After my post, though, a couple of readers were curious to know when an author should reveal her legal name. My answer is if it doesn’t have anything to do with your platform you’ll only need to reveal it when it comes time to sign contracts. Obviously you need to be forthright with your agent and let her know both your legal name and your pseudonym, but you only need to do that when she offers representation. The same goes for the publisher. I rarely let the publisher know the legal names of my authors until we need it for the contract.

If, however, your legal name, or another pseudonym, builds your platform, you’ll want to include that from the start. For example, you might say something along the lines of, “Having published successfully under Jessica Faust I’ve decided to spin my career in a new direction with thrillers under the name J. H. Faust,” or something like that.

Don’t get too hung up on this. Until you’re published it’s not that big of a deal. Just keep in mind that it’s hard enough for agents to remember one name, let alone two, so when checking on submissions or following up with requested material it makes everyone’s lives easier if you are using that name you want to publish under.



Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica,

I really appreciate that LLC takes time away from their busy schedules to post information like this.

Here's what I don't understand about pen names: On the page of the novel where the copyright goes, the writer's real name is often listed. So, if you want to keep that name confidential, you'd probably have to incorporate, wouldn't you??????

How common is that? and at what point would an author incorporate?

Looking forward to your response.



Chumplet said...

My decision to use a pseudonym was made early, and it helps that it's my maiden name. Just a few days ago, I went into a bookstore to approach the owner about ordering my book, and she recognized me right away as Sandra Cormier, only because we knew each other in my pre-marriage days.

I've stopped using both names in queries, keeping it simple and straightforward. Why confuse the agent or editor?

When it's contract time, usually there's a space for both names, so no angst needed.

Kate Douglas said...

Nancy, the copyright can be done under your pseudonym. All my Wolf Tales have been copyrighted under Kate Douglas w/o any problem. I wish I'd been smart enough to do that with my earlier stories, as I'd just as soon not have my real name floating about.

TiffinaC said...

I am not pub'd and I haven't done anything with a pseudonym yet. I only want to change my last name when the times comes to get a contract -- I don't want my real name on a shelf.

My biggest reasoning -- sometimes my mail gets forwarded to the postoffice if it doesn't fit in my mail box (nothing bigger than letter does) and to retrieve the mail, I have to use photo id...

I've read (in a lot of places) you should use it from the get go. I'll just have to worry about it when I get there.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for covering this topic as well... I'm using my maiden name and was told to use my married/legal name on query and correspondence but the pen name on the ms - which might be confusing... This makes it simpler, I'll just order letterhead with my maiden name for fiction.

I am really enjoying your posts - if only you represented my genre. Oh well, I'll keep reading anyway, it's wonderful information. Thanks so much.


Another author, I think on Jessica's earlier post about pen names but it might have been on another blog, said she listed her pen name as a dba. She got a separate bank account for the pen name and a credit card with both her pen name and real name to avoid confusion with identification.

Zany Mom said...

My name is just, well, dull. I've never liked it. I'll have to think of a cool pseudonym before I start querying.

Anonymous said...

Kate, at what point in the process did you copywrite your Wolf Tales (i.e., pre-agent, post-agent, pre-sale, etc.)?



Anonymous said...

Oops, I mean copyright! Duh! So, pretend I spelled it correctly. :-)


Anonymous said...

Thanks Kate!


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