Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Authors Face Novel Pseudonym Dilemma


About 10-15 percent of the authors that I work with write under a fake or incomplete name. They use initials instead of full names or they change their name completely. Why do they seek to hide their identity — and what are the marketing challenges in such a situation?  

Authors hide who they are because they: 

* Don’t want an abusive ex-domestic partner to find them.

* Are concerned they will lose their job if discovered.

* Would be sued over an NDA if exposed.

* Fear reprisal from dangerous crazies out there.

* Want to experiment in genres (children’s book author wants to write erotic novels).

* Can’t afford to face any public criticism.

* Never want strangers to taunt them.

* Seek to avoid their children or family being the target of an attack.

* Feel freer to say anything without fear of retribution. 

Yes, whistleblowers, victims of physical and psychological abuse, and those in legal limbo cannot afford to go public with a book unless they can safely do it anonymously and disguise their true story as fiction. But they still want to be heard, to have a voice out there. 

I had a few authors suggest they write under an assumed name because they are concerned they may become so popular that they won’t be able to safeguard their privacy. Authors should only have such problems! 

Some successful authors write other books under another name so as not to be perceived as oversaturating the market with their books. 

A few authors do it for effect. I once had a white guy pose as a black woman so that his race-centric novel had more believability.  

Regardless of why one uses a pseudonym, a problem arises when it comes to marketing a book. Well, two problems. 

First, you have a novel that may be interesting on its own, but could be explosive if one could say it is true. However, to say it is based on real events or people works best if we know who the author is and can verify their story. When you have a made-up name, nothing can be validated. 

Second, because you use an alias, you are unlikely to make public appearances. No speaking engagements, no TV appearances, and nothing that shows your image unless you hire an actor or model to sub in for you. Too costly, too tricky.  

Fake names could have paper trails. When you copyright your book, when you print the book, and when you leave digital breadcrumbs through having a website or social media page, you could be exposed by savvy researchers, vigilant private eyes, amateur sleuths, and highly-paid hackers. 

Still, to publish or not to publish, is not the question. Every story deserves, even needs, to be told. Though it would be great if everyone could use their real name, some simply can’t or won’t. I respect the bind they are in. It all makes marketing a book that much harder, but there are still things that can be done.  

You can still advertise, buy or submit to book reviews, and apply for book awards. You can put out content online and do lots of audio podcasts and radio shows if you feel voice recognition is not an issue (or disguise your voice)). You can submit byline articles to newspapers and magazines or guest posts on blogs. You can get a co-author who is willing to be the public face as well.   

There is hope, but the challenging task of getting your book known while seeking to remain unknown is a delicate balancing act for the determined, the brave, and those who truly have a good story worth telling. 

Need Book Marketing Help?

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at  He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has over 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres. Let him be your advocate, teacher, and motivator!


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  

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