Monday, August 10, 2009

Author 007

I have written a controversial realistic fiction novel. If I want to keep my identity not discoverable, what's the best way to do this?

I have to admit it’s really hard for me not to simply reply to this question with, “Don’t tell anyone” and leave it at that.

I won’t do that though. I’ll force my fingers to continue writing.

Let me start by telling you that in the age of Google it’s pretty dang hard to keep anything a secret these days. Does anyone remember Primary Colors by that anonymous Joe Klein? When that book was published in 1996 by anonymous it became a game to see who could figure out the author’s real name first. I remember analysts comparing the writing to journalists and columnists everywhere. It was nuts, and later it was revealed that Joe Klein was in fact no longer anonymous. That being said, you can certainly do whatever you feel you need to if you want to remain underground, it just might be tricky.

First of all, your agent is probably going to need to know who you are. After all, the checks from the publisher get sent somewhere and the IRS is going to need to know to whom. So if for no other reason than it’s a legal issue you’ll probably have to reveal yourself to your agent. And then, if you really don’t want your publisher to know the real you, you can probably have everything go through your agent and only have your publisher refer to you by your pseudonym. Seems extreme for fiction though.

For media events you can wear a disguise and use your agent or a publicist to set those things up (and I know this is sounding snarky, but I am being honest here) or simply do everything by phone or online and refuse to make appearances (which could be tough if the book hits big).

Ultimately, pick a pseudonym and use that name. For now anyway that will keep you anonymous.