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Pen Names and Memoirs

Posted: September 24th, 2010, 5:41 pm
by ScottyDan
I read with great interest Nathan's post on building a platform the other day ( ... iters.html). I'm already blogging and have FB and Twitter accounts, so that's not a problem.

I'm currently working on a memoir. When I complete the project, I fully intend to query and try to get published. My problem is, to protect the identity of those that I love as well as myself, I'll have to publish under a pen name.

So, where does that leave me as far as platform building?

I can't exactly use my current platform tools to start promoting a book under my pen name (if it actually ever sees the light of day, which I know the odds say that it won't). If I create an alter ego and establish a platform that way, I'm lying to my potential readers. I don't want to do that .... I actually want to have some credibility.


Re: Pen Names and Memoirs

Posted: September 24th, 2010, 9:32 pm
by Nathan Bransford
Well, I guess I'd first make sure that your book won't get you sued. I'm not a publishing attorney so please take my advice with a grain of salt, but no one should be able to recognize themselves in a book, even if they're called a different name. Even if it's a novel, especially if it's memoir. So if you're changing your name to disguise who you're writing about, I'd bear that in mind.

The second thing I'd say is that if you want to use your existing platform you'd need to use your real name. Otherwise you need to start building a new platform around your pen name. Those are pretty much the two options.

But I wouldn't oversell the extent to which you need a platform for memoir. Except for celebrities, memoirs are more like novels in that they depend more on the quality of the writing rather than the subject matter.

Re: Pen Names and Memoirs

Posted: September 24th, 2010, 9:53 pm
by ScottyDan
Thanks, Nathan. Only the stories in the memoir will remain the same. The settings, the people, occupations will all be different. Actually, even little things about the stories themselves will change, too. I'm also not including much, if any, physical descriptions of people - precisely over the issue you raise, in terms of getting sued. I know it's not enough to just change names.

I'm still wrestling with the part about creating a platform around an alter ego/pen name. It just seems wrong to me.

I do appreciate your advice, however. I hope your book does well.