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The Business Side of Writing > Does Writing Under a Pen Name Protect Author and Family?

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message 1: by Nike (last edited Jun 06, 2012 07:31AM) (new)

Nike Chillemi | 482 comments Mod
Some authors are afraid if they open Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts they're opening themselves and their family up to unwanted attention and even harassment.

Will opening these accounts under a pen name protect the author and his/her family?

I know a published Christian horror author who is known to his writer and publshing friends solely by his pen name. Many, if not most, know it's a pen name. This removes the world of publishing from his family and regular job work life. If some nut doesn't like what this author has written, there's no way to reach the author's family, regular life job, or his regular life friends and associates.


message 2: by Elise (new)

Elise Stone (eliseinaz) Nike wrote: "Some authors are afraid if they open Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts they're opening themselves and their family up to unwanted attention and even harassment.

Will opening these accounts u..."


I'm assuming the author would be smart enough to not put any identifying information in his or her profile. Not the city or state where they live, not the name of their dog, no photos or birthdays.

While using a pen name will probably protect him from the casual nut job, the Internet is a big place and there's a lot of information out there. There's no guarantee that the link between his real name and his pen name won't be discovered by someone determined enough to spend the time to hunt it out.

Interestingly enough, I watched a video presentation on social media use done by the company I work for today. They recommended separate personal and business accounts for Twitter and Facebook and felt that Google +'s circles were good enough separation so you could use just one account. But they also said to assume that someone would make the link between the two accounts and that everything you said on one could be found by someone who knew you on the other.

Then again, we can take reasonable precautions in protecting ourselves and trust that most people are good or we can live our lives in fear. I chose not to live in fear.


message 3: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Metz | 16 comments I don't think it's living in fear, I think it's using wisdom in this age of information overload and little privacy. I read about authors who had people walking into their yards and peeking into their windows. Another I heard about had someone arranging tours past their house, some had horrible "presents" left on their doorsteps. I haven't even finished my first book yet, but I don't want that to happen. I have already had some . . . negative feedback about what kind of novel I was writing and that kind of thing. I may not be able to stop it entirely, but I do try to take what precautions I can. I use a pen name. Most of the authors I know realize I use a pen name and some know my real name. I do separate my personal and writing accounts. I don't have anyone on both accounts though. I don't share private information, names of my family members or pictures of them.

Could a highly motivated person find us? Sure. I'm not making it easy for them though. I want to protect my family from anyone who might want to hurt them. I don't want to hide and not put myself out there and meet people. I just want to be as smart as I can be about it.


message 4: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi | 482 comments Mod
Elise wrote: "Nike wrote: "Some authors are afraid if they open Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts they're opening themselves and their family up to unwanted attention and even harassment.

Will opening the..."


I agree. We all, whether we use a pen name or not, should use reasonable caution.

I have refrained from putting photos up of my daughter, thought sometimes I'd love to. But then when I visit her page, she's got tons of photos up...and so do all her friends. Still they're not on my author page.


message 5: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi | 482 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I don't think it's living in fear, I think it's using wisdom in this age of information overload and little privacy. I read about authors who had people walking into their yards and peeking into th..."

Wow, I must be preverse. My first thought was -- imagine being well known enough as a writter to have tours in front of your house!!! Then I thought-- Yuk!!


message 6: by Elise (new)

Elise Stone (eliseinaz) I ran this issue by a group of published and unpublished authors on a loop I belong to after it came up here. Some of the published authors use pen names due to contractual or personal reasons, while others publish under their own names.

NONE of them have ever had a problem with stalking or angry readers.

Maybe this whole issue is a red herring.


message 7: by Elise (new)

Elise Stone (eliseinaz) Nike wrote: "Wow, I must be preverse. My first thought was -- imagine being well known enough as a writter to have tours in front of your house!!! Then I thought-- Yuk!!"

LOL! I thought this, too. I'd be tempted to go out and wave at them.


message 8: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi | 482 comments Mod
Elise wrote: "Nike wrote: "Wow, I must be preverse. My first thought was -- imagine being well known enough as a writter to have tours in front of your house!!! Then I thought-- Yuk!!"

LOL! I thought this, too...."


I think we're not "big" enough authors to have to worry about this. Perhaps Tosca Lee and Ted Dekker have this as an issue.

I generally don't put pix of my girls up. But they put photos of themselves up constantly.


message 9: by B.J. (new)

B.J. Kurtz | 1 comments Nike wrote: "Elise wrote: "Nike wrote: "Some authors are afraid if they open Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts they're opening themselves and their family up to unwanted attention and even harassment.

Wi..."


I agree. No matter who you are, putting personal information on social media is taking a risk. I think that risk is there whether you are an author or not. Some of my non-writer friends have a bigger presence online than I do. I think they would have a greater risk than me, even though I'm an author. I chose to go with initials partly for privacy, but have come to learn that most figure out your real name anyway.


message 10: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi | 482 comments Mod
B.J. wrote: "Nike wrote: "Elise wrote: "Nike wrote: "Some authors are afraid if they open Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts they're opening themselves and their family up to unwanted attention and even ha..."

I use my real name...my married name. I only use social media for marketing my novels. I'm a bit older than you and if I want to contact a friend, I call them.


message 11: by Stu (new)

Stu | 24 comments It boils down to this: Use good common sense. Other than that - you have no control over your privacy in today's world. If you want to have true privacy you can't use modern technology and you can't do anything that will draw attention to yourself. (Both impossible - if you are a writer.)

If somebody wants to know everything there is to know about you - they don't have to be very dedicated - all they have to do is pay 9.99 to one of many internet companies that collect public records, plug in a few things they do know(including an alias or pen name) and boom - instant personal information - including where you live, your properties, your income, your vehicles, your neighbors, your family members(including extended and in other states) and even whether or not you have pets.

A pen name will not protect your identity. Not in an information age such as ours... and many people out there are not good - at least not in my experience.

I don't say this to frighten or be cynical, but I've been a cop for a while now and being threatened and having my family threatened is a way of life for me. It just is what it is, and surviving in an acidic environment has become normal for me. If someone has a problem with me, they can come on and we'll have to see what's what.

I don't say that to try and beat my chest like some tough guy - because I'm not. I'm just a guy. But I also refuse to live in fear, and as a good man once said: "Fear profits a man nothing."


message 12: by Nike (new)

Nike Chillemi | 482 comments Mod
Stu wrote: "It boils down to this: Use good common sense. Other than that - you have no control over your privacy in today's world. If you want to have true privacy you can't use modern technology and you can'..."

I refuse to live in fear as well. I don't put anything up about my kids in social media, or almost never do.

And I don't respond to people I get a weird vibe from. There haven't been many but there have been a few.

Other than that I'm protected by angels.


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