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Hi!
I'm in the middle of writing my memoir, set in a mental hospital in my 20's. I am writing about my journey back to recovery.

I am freaking out about the thought of publishing under my own name...I googled myself and saw my name and full address right there for anyone to see. I'm paranoid that someone who reads my book will look me up and find out where I live. Has anyone ended up with a stalker after publishing their book? I think I'm more uptight as one of my author friends told me she has several that harassed her after she published.. 
If you did publish under your own name, how did you protect your privacy? Thanks. 
 

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i've been stalked before i published anything, so don't get me started

a thought--

if you're self-publishing memoir, you shouldn't be doing it under real names (including your own) because of the potential for high legal costs

if you're dead set on publishing under your real name, work with a trad because they have teams of lawyers who will review your book for potential pitfalls

you could hire your own lawyer & you probably must if you self-publish but personally?

i'd write fiction and use a pseudo rather than writing memoir under my real name for multiple reasons-- legal, personal safety, the fact more people want to read fiction than read about some stranger's life...

 

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Oh, gosh. Yes. Slightly different circumstances, though. I had the misfortune of giving critically negative reviews to two of the most popular best-selling books of all time, some years back. A lot of us writers came out and slammed the books for structure, lack of editing and craftsmanship. They made millions in book sales and both went to feature film series. I was unaware of the rabid fan base that backed these authors and titles. (This was on Youtube, btw). I paid the price by receiving multiple, what I would call "revenge reviews" on my books that nearly destroyed their star-rankings and ruined sales. It was still stalking.

I was in a flame war in a major writing group that dog-piled me and got personal in the critique of a romance novel I'd written. I got banned for fighting back. Then the relentless stalking began on FB and Twitter, and it was a destroy mission. Fortunately, I used the site supervisors to stop it because it wouldn't cease. I believed one of the stalkers was banned. This happened, even though I had long since apologized for my behavior and forgot about it. 

I remember Hugh Howey being ripped to shreds in the same group. I came to his defense and the bullseyes landed on me. But I would do it all over again because the charges were so preposterous and cruel. Months later, stalkers found me and reminded me for supporting a self-published fool, and that I should never let it down.

People, any persons really, who disagree with you per race, politics, religion, creed, and lifestyle can and do retaliate against you at times. You can be the most non-caustic and  peaceful person on this planet, but if someone perceives what you've written or said is directly opposed to them or thought of as a personal attack, no matter how untrue and misdirected, you can end up on the tail end of a firestorm of hatred and abuse.

It happens to every one of us, in turn, or at some time in our career. It hurts deeply and profoundly, and you wonder how could anyone be so cruel as to follow you everywhere and demean you while you are simply cohabiting peacefully with your site or group members.

With a memoir, you run the risk of not only using your real name and location, but possibly using real characters in your life's past that bear a striking resemblance to real people. Those people could very well identify themselves in print and start a manner of trouble and stalking. Notwithstanding, law suits, defamation, slander, etc, etc, . I agree with the above that a trad publisher could set up some barriers contract-wise and might be able to intercept and protect you. Yet I couldn't really advise you on what to do if you self-published and received this kind of backlash.

Caution. Subtlety. and perhaps a real non-traceable pen name might help you avoid, shall we say, any Imperial Entanglements. 
 

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chrisstevenson said:
Oh, gosh. Yes. Slightly different circumstances, though. I had the misfortune of giving critically negative reviews to two of the most popular best-selling books of all time, some years back. A lot of us writers came out and slammed the books for structure, lack of editing and craftsmanship. They made millions in book sales and both went to feature film series. I was unaware of the rabid fan base that backed these authors and titles. (This was on Youtube, btw). I paid the price by receiving multiple, what I would call "revenge reviews" on my books that nearly destroyed their star-rankings and ruined sales. It was still stalking.

I was in a flame war in a major writing group that dog-piled me and got personal in the critique of a romance novel I'd written. I got banned for fighting back. Then the relentless stalking began on FB and Twitter, and it was a destroy mission. Fortunately, I used the site supervisors to stop it because it wouldn't cease. I believed one of the stalkers was banned. This happened, even though I had long since apologized for my behavior and forgot about it.

I remember Hugh Howey being ripped to shreds in the same group. I came to his defense and the bullseyes landed on me. But I would do it all over again because the charges were so preposterous and cruel. Months later, stalkers found me and reminded me for supporting a self-published fool, and that I should never let it down.

People, any persons really, who disagree with you per race, politics, religion, creed, and lifestyle can and do retaliate against you at times. You can be the most non-caustic and peaceful person on this planet, but if someone perceives what you've written or said is directly opposed to them or thought of as a personal attack, no matter how untrue and misdirected, you can end up on the tail end of a firestorm of hatred and abuse.

It happens to every one of us, in turn, or at some time in our career. It hurts deeply and profoundly, and you wonder how could anyone be so cruel as to follow you everywhere and demean you while you are simply cohabiting peacefully with your site or group members.

With a memoir, you run the risk of not only using your real name and location, but possibly using real characters in your life's past that bear a striking resemblance to real people. Those people could very well identify themselves in print and start a manner of trouble and stalking. Notwithstanding, law suits, defamation, slander, etc, etc, . I agree with the above that a trad publisher could set up some barriers contract-wise and might be able to intercept and protect you. Yet I couldn't really advise you on what to do if you self-published and received this kind of backlash.

Caution. Subtlety. and perhaps a real non-traceable pen name might help you avoid, shall we say, any Imperial Entanglements.
Thank you for your stories. Unfortunately it doesn't surprise me. Yes the OP needs a pen name, needs to advertise the book under a pen name and change the names of the real live characters with a disclaimer that people's names have been changed. Most of what I do online is not with my real name or real picture. Facebok is the only place with my real name and picture and I am very hesitant to comment on articles where they want you to comment using Facebook with your real name and picture visible.
 

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I've had several readers want to know if the places in my epic fantasy are "real" and how they can go to those places.  :eek:
 

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Thank you to the OP for this post, and to @chrisstevenson for his detailed reply. I've written a yet-to-be-published novel that I would to appear under my own name.

But this really makes me reconsider --

chrisstevenson said:
... You can be the most non-caustic and peaceful person on this planet, but if someone perceives what you've written or said is directly opposed to them or thought of as a personal attack, no matter how untrue and misdirected, you can end up on the tail end of a firestorm of hatred and abuse. It happens to every one of us, in turn, or at some time in our career ...
Yikes. That is so sad (and scary).

Do you think I'm mistaken in publishing even a fantasy novel under my real name?
 

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autor said:
Thank you to the OP for this post, and to @chrisstevenson for his detailed reply. I've written a yet-to-be-published novel that I would to appear under my own name.

But this really makes me reconsider --

Yikes. That is so sad (and scary).

Do you think I'm mistaken in publishing even a fantasy novel under my real name?
Oh, no. I don't think three is a need to panic at all, really. If I could turn back the clock, I would have used my real name for ALL of my books. My pen name seems to be completely foreign and unconnected to me because of my not properly explaining or linking the two names. That's my fault, and it was a complicated matter. I believe you'll do just fine. Tact, is the keyword here. The best of luck on your project!
 

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Just a lawyer chiming in to say that a pen name is not really all that much protection against an invasion of privacy or defamation lawsuit. It may make it harder to track you down, but it's hard to truly and completely conceal your identity to the point you can't be tracked down by someone who is determined. (And if you made them mad enough to want to sue you, they're probably pretty darn determined.)

Also, even in traditional publishing, you absolutely need to read through your contract very carefully. Don't automatically assume the publisher's lawyers are going to vet your work or that by traditionally publishing you're insulated from liability. Many publishing contracts I've looked at have indemnity clauses where the author promises there is nothing defamatory or that invades anyone's privacy in the book.

Changing names and identifying characteristics of other people helps, but may not be enough if they're still identifiable.

This is not to discourage you from writing a memoir, but aside from issues over your own privacy, there are definitely legal considerations if you are depicting other people in a less than flattering light.
 

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I think writing under your real name is fine for fiction but I wouldn't use it in a memoir, particularly a memoir about a medical career or work in mental health. I'd avoid making anyone recognizable, for legal reasons as well as personal.

Even when writing fiction, it's worth considering whether you have any real life exes or others who may use your books as a way to make trouble for you. It's also a pretty common thing in the writing/reading community to offend someone in an argument and see them retaliate through the Amazon reviews and your social media pages. Anonymity gives a (thin but better than nothing) layer of protection.

Personally, my preference is pen names for everything but then, I kinda have a thing about privacy, even though I have no enemies. It just bugs me to think of strangers seeing pictures of my kids or my house on Facebook, reading news about my health or personal life in my author newsletter, etc. So I don't connect the personal and the work related. Totally separate compartments. All the public facing stuff is tied to pen names, all the pen name stuff (bio, newsletter) don't comment on family, etc. I keep a PO box so that even when I'm required to list my author address somewhere semi-public (newsletter footers), I don't have to share my home address.
 

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Boy, was I stalked! I had three people who I can only imagine are highly disturbed stalk me on every form of social media they could find. I basically had to shut all my accounts down and have been writing under a pen name since.

And why was I stalked? Because they didn't like the direction a story was going and that I was ruining their lives because the main characters had broken up. Biggest mistake was writing under my real name. One of these individuals would send me messages every day, that she couldn't eat or sleep until my characters got back together. Real sad stuff.

Thankfully that was a few years ago, and they've gone away, and so has me writing under my real name.

Moral of the story. Write under a pen name and keep it as private as possible.
 

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I am releasing a nonfiction book with a polarizing subject that will easily attract people who would want to pan it, or stalk me, or god knows what.  So this is what I have done to make sure that will not happen:

1. I created a name of an organization that will serve as the author.
2. Using an aggregator to distribute the book and not my personal accounts.
3. I created a website for the organization.  I made sure to use a different company, server entirely separate than my other websites.
4. It is not a wordpress site - which are easier to hack.
5. I made sure the contact information for the website is secret.
6. If they manage to crack website owner details anyway, that will lead to a fictitious name and random phone number and random email.
7. The mailing list for the book was created using a totally different service than the one I normally use under my real name.
8. I created a gmail email address just for this book/organization.
9. Only family members know that I am the author.
10. I have a marketing person I have hired who will be the go-between after we send out the press release.
11. I am not letting my current subscribers know that I am releasing this.
12. Created separate social media channels; none which are connected to my other channels.

 

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I would make the book a work of fiction, with the standard disclaimer stating that all characters are fictional, etc. And change the story enough to where no one who would read it would clearly see themselves in it. You can still get your points across in fiction that you seem to want to get across in non-fiction.

I would use a pen name, I wouldn't have a website, or any contact info available online, i.e., no email available.

As for what others have said here about the volatile nature of people online, and as you have mentioned in the case of your author friend, there is always justification for such worries once you become a public persona. So don't become a public persona.
 

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Hello, wow... this is one of the most interesting threads I've encountered.  :-X For myself, having recently published under a pen name, my intention was in fact to avoid any unnecessary scrutiny. Having been stalked before, I have known the unpleasantness and do not wish it on anyone. Why can't people just enjoy a story? My book is science fiction so sorry I can't be of much further help.
 
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