I currently write and publish under a pseudonym. Why did I choose to do this? Well…there were a lot of reasons why, most of them very personal. But the gist of it is that I didn’t want anyone in my very small community (at the time) to know I had published any books or was writing online. I also don’t like being recognized in public by total strangers (Something I am horrifically familiar with. If you are a fan who happens to know who I am in real life, please tell me when you talk to me, don’t just whisper and point. It is creepy as heck.). Unfortunately, a few people whom I did not want to know about my writing found out, shared that information with others I didn’t want to know and now there isn’t a whole lot of point to writing with a pseudonym.
Except…for the years of work I’ve put in to cultivating my author platform. The author platform I thought I would use until the day I died.
And the drawback of having a pseudonym are becoming more annoying by the day. What are they you ask? Keep reading to see the list.
One) Copyright protection is shorter for pseudonyms than for real names.
Pen names only get 95 years from the date of publication of a written work or 120 years from its creation whichever is shorter. Real author names get the author’s lifetime plus 70 years from their death. At the time of publishing my book “End of Imperium”, I had been under the impression from my doctors that I only had a few years left on my life. Using a pseudonym would provide my child who would inherit the rights to my books an added decade to profit from them. https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/copyright-faq-what-if-i-want-to-use-a-pseudonym-31454
Now that I’ve outlived my sell-by date, it turns out it might be more profitable to publish under my real name.
Two) Social networking is more difficult with a pseudonym.
The first problem I had with social networking with other authors is that I couldn’t make a Facebook account specifically for my author name. Somehow, Facebook had decided that my pen name wasn’t a real person. Then for ta while they decided not to let anyone tag my page. This was horrible.
While those factors were frustrating and annoying, the worst part is that these kind of non-personal pages interact with other accounts and pages in a different way than personal accounts do. I can’t “friend” people. Although I can follow them…sometimes. Sometimes my author page isn’t given the option to follow someone else’s page or account.
Integration also sucks. Some platforms allow you to connect to Facebook using pages you manage, some platforms don’t. And some platforms don’t provide enough information during the connection process for you to know for sure if it will connect directly to your personal profile or if you will be given the option to connect via a page you manage later on.
And this is just ONE social media platform. Admittedly, I haven’t had many issues with other social media platforms. Every other platform I’ve used Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram have all permitted me to use my pen name with no real difficulties. But the lack of ability to connect through Facebook significantly slows the platform/fan-base building process.
Three) Building an Author platform requires more work.
When you are just starting out with a pseudonym and have never been published, no one knows who you are. There are no social media accounts for others to follow and investigate you, no previously published works to be referenced in a bio. Just nothing. No family, friends, and fellow writers to spread the word about your new works.
If you are deliberately trying to keep people from figuring out who you actually are, it isn’t possible to draw on your pre-existing social network. Social networking has to be done completely from scratch. When I published, no one knew (except my husband who was at the time, my fiancé). Not my parents, not my siblings, nor any of my extended family, or other authors. This meant I had no shares on Facebook, no free book reviews, no pins on Pinterest, no tweets on Twitter, or any other classic free advertising for independently published authors. I didn’t have an author platform at all (This didn’t last long but was frustrating in the beginning.).
Building an author platform as an independent or self-published author when writing with a pseudonym takes a bit more preplanning than it would if you were writing and publishing under your real name. It’s the same process as building a network and platform as you would use if you were writing under your real name, but because you actively have to seek out every new connection and audience member, it is a little bit less organic.
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