Saturday, July 16, 2011

To Pseudonym or Not To Pseudonym...

Last night, my husband and I debated the pseudonym question. 

All the blogs I have read insist that you should just write and not worry about it.  Just write - if you don't finish, it won't matter anyway.  But I know I'll finish.  I'm almost there.  And my brain is wired to worry about the tiniest little details.  

I like the idea of platform building before publishing my first novel.  I love how some of you have self-published short stories in advance of your novel being published.  I think it's a great idea to get some readership through blogging and sharing short stories up front.  The idea of epublishing is really starting to appeal to me for my novel.

To begin to platform build, it seems logical to me that you have to make the decision if you want to use a pseudonym or not.  You need to decide on a name and buy the domain name before you do anything else.  At least I don't see a way around it.  My husband suggested using my name as is for the web site and then change it all around later.  I suppose that will work, but the very efficient programmer that lives in my core doesn't want to waste the time.  

We have a rare situation sitting here in a little neighborhood in Ohio.  We have a web server and email server of our very own.  I am a little rusty on the skills, but could build my own web site if I have enough lead time - it's not an easy thing to do with a toddler standing next to you, demanding, I will help you on the 'puter!  So I need to start soon.

I want to use a pseudonym because some of my stories have characters that are similar to (but really aren't exactly the same as) people in my life.  And sometimes the seed of a story is based on a little something that happened to someone.  My story is never their story - in my stories, things tend to go terribly wrong for comic effect. 

Still, I worry about hurting people's feelings.  My extended family is dysfunctional enough as is without me shaking things up.  I like the idea of taking the path of least resistance. 

My husband suggested approaching friends and family members that may have inspired my stories or characters and get their thoughts about it.  I can't see that going well.  I would need to have my running shoes on as a precaution, and I just don't run that fast anymore.

On the other hand, I'm not sure using a pseudonym is entirely resistance-free.  My husband asked the question - How does copyright protection work if you copyright with a fictitious name?  Good question.  If you are published the traditional way, it sounds like the publisher handles all that for you.  If you do it alone, you can hope you're going to run into no problems and just do it.  Or you can mail each entire manuscript to the government with a small fee and a form.  You have to check the box "pseudonymous" (a very funny word).  That seems a little bit like a hassle to me....

So we are wondering what you think.  Have you had any experiences using pseudonyms with electronic publishing in particular?  How have people in your life handled it if a character in your stories seemed a little bit like them?  Or did they even notice?


  1. There's a scene between two sisters in my novel. My sister read to and swore it never happened. I had to tell her this is a fiction piece and read the meaning of fiction to her.

    As for your other concerns, I haven't crossed that bridge myself yet.

  2. Shelly - that's funny. I think it's possible that if I did tell a "true" story, no one would remember it the same way anyway. Maybe I worry for nothing.