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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm hoping to collect some opinions on the idea of using pen names.  For the past 10 years, I have made a name for myself as a web programmer and graphic designer.  Just recently, I began writing and set a goal to publish my first novel this year as well as several short stories and anthology submissions.  The novel I am nearly complete with is erotica and will be clearly stated as such.  Since I have made a name for myself amongst authors, editors, and publishers as a graphic designer, would it be acceptable and welcomed for me to branch out as an author using the same name I use for my design business?  Also, will it hurt my business relations if the fact comes out I am an author of graphic romance novels?  I'm bouncing back and forth whether to keep my two identities separate or piggyback on the connections I've already made and use my real name.

Of course, I know how odd it seems that I am asking this sort of question in a public forum.  But keep in mind, the connections I have within the literary world are not my concern.  My main concern is my existing business clients and personal relations that may not accept this new venture.  I will have to make a decision soon as I am submitting a short story to an anthology in less than a month.

Thanks to all in these boards.  I've heard some great discussions so far and the support is really helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Sorry for the double post... computer hiccuped.
 

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1. Your existing network of friends won't buy your books or help you. Sad but true. They're all trying to peddle their "photography" businesses and "life coaching."

2. Erotica? Yes, use a pen name. You can always give it to people, but you can't change your mind the other direction.

p.s. LOVE the covers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Dalya!  I actually could care less if my current network buys the books or even likes them.  I just don't want to offend or lose business over it either.  I do have a few Christian clients and just not sure how bent out of shape they would get if I'm suddenly promoting myself as an Erotica author on my website.

In addition, I think I like my pen name better anyway.  So, that's a plus!

And thanks for the compliment on the covers.  I enjoy what I do!
 

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I would suggest a pen name.  Especially if you're going erotica.  I write non-fiction for the field I work in and I strongly feel that one should always appear professional online if one hopes to attract more clients.

It's a weird thing in today's world.  We self-employed people have to be jack-of-all-trades but we can't appear as such because then it looks like we're not masters of our craft.  When people type in my real name online I want them to see music teacher stuff and that's it.  I don't want to have to deal with the "Oh, so I see you're a teacher and a fiction writer... is teaching really your full-time job?" type of conversations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I couldn't agree more Alain.  I think enough people have convinced me to use a pen name now (especially with erotica).  There's only one person that has suggested otherwise.  I am proud to be the type of person who branches out and tries new things.  It keeps me alive and keeps my options open.  Two things I cannot do and will never attempt to try... dancing and keeping a plant alive!  :)
 
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Theres one other reason: SEO. Using a pen name means that people looking for your books don't find your business and get confused, or vice versa. I know of one author (Hugh MacCraken/Alistair Kinnon) who writes YA and hard adult crime fiction and uses a pen name to split the genres.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good point with the SEO.  I was thinking that my existing ranks in search engines would actually help me, but totally didn't think about people getting confused.  So, that is one more tally to add to the pen name side of the board.

Also, as far as accepting payment... here in the US, I can easily create a fictitious name or corporation to legally accept checks and/or transfers in my pen name.  Luckily, I come from a family of accountants.  So, the legal aspect of it is a no-brainer for me.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.  It looks like everyone made my mind up for me.  Pen name it is.  :)
 

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I would definitely use a pen name (well, I do use a pen name), especially if it's erotica.

You still have the option of using an open pseudonym but with erotica I would keep an eye on what customers you work with. I have a lot of rather conservative customers and so want to avoid the link between this part of my business and the erotica-writing part. I also want to have clear boxes in the perception of my customers that name XY is my freelancing business while Alix Nowarra is the m/m erotica/erotic romance writer. I also like that distinction for myself. It's a bit like wearing different hats that present different parts of my business and my personality.

I might later use my real name for my fantasy novels but that is partially because I'm active under my real name in the fantasy and SF community and already have build a network. And again I would want to have a clear distinction between the erotica writer and the fantasy writer.

 

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I'll echo everyone else: YES to a pen name and GREAT book covers!

As someone said a bit earlier in the thread, the biz connections AREN'T going to buy your books anyway... Don't risk alienating straight-laced clients.

If you want to down the road, you can always combine your two selves, but for now keep them separate.
 

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Use a pen name and make sure not to cross the beams.  Don't put the pen name and real name together on anything.  Don't list the real name inside the cover as the copyright holder (you'd be amazed how many people do this).  Don't list them together anywhere that someone can google and get both.

 

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Aside from erotica issues, I can't imagine any disadvantage to using
pen name(s) other than obvious negation of any/all personal desire
to say "I did this, look at me--"
Also different names clearly opens door to branding in different genres.
Have had some moderate success with a single novella, but it is impossible
to describe, effectively genre-less, depends entirely on word of mouth.
Will not be doing that again.
 

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I see replies to this thread generally favor pen names, and the original poster is familiar with the legalities, however, this is a topic I am currently researching. Any advice for a novice looking to navigate the legal pitfalls of pen names, receiving payments, paying taxes, etc.?
 

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AndreSanThomas said:
Use a pen name and make sure not to cross the beams. Don't put the pen name and real name together on anything. Don't list the real name inside the cover as the copyright holder (you'd be amazed how many people do this). Don't list them together anywhere that someone can google and get both.
The problem with that is that in some countries depending on their laws you are required to put in a real legal name and a physical address and thus being forced by law to link the pen name with the real name. A friend of mine has that problem in Germany. The law requires that a real name with a current physical address is mentioned. Even if she started her own publishing house she would have to put her name and address in the book and on her website.
 

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AndreSanThomas said:
Use a pen name and make sure not to cross the beams. Don't put the pen name and real name together on anything. Don't list the real name inside the cover as the copyright holder (you'd be amazed how many people do this). Don't list them together anywhere that someone can google and get both.
One smart way to keep them separate is to use different browser profiles to keep all logins and cookies separate, so you can have two distinct online personas.

Now at the distributor, I do only have one account each. They keep my pen names private.
 

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edmjill said:
As someone said a bit earlier in the thread, the biz connections AREN'T going to buy your books anyway... Don't risk alienating straight-laced clients.
And it works both ways, too. You don't want to risk alienating potential readers by your "other life". I've had hundreds of political articles published in newspapers, no need to automatically lose 1/2 the population because of my political views. And I wrote a bunch of stuff for a couple sportstalk shows. One of the hosts went national in a big way and my stuff still appears on his local web site. I don't wanna lose prospective readers because they root for a rival team. There are all kinds of reasons to use pen names.
 

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Victoria Champion said:
One smart way to keep them separate is to use different browser profiles to keep all logins and cookies separate, so you can have two distinct online personas.
Yes, indeed. The real me uses FireFox, the author me uses Internet Explorer. I have both my Twitter accounts open all day that way, for example. It's a great strategy.
 
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