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 Publishing as "Anonymous"

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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

Number of posts : 1727
Registration date : 2010-05-11
Location : Florida

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PostSubject: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 8:14 am

I'm tossing this out for discussion. I don't expect anyone to know the answer. It will be a pleasant surprise if someone does.

Q: How does one effectively publish a successful book under the pseudonym "Anonymous?"

Too many people have to be in on the production of the book and have to know who the author is. Proof readers, literary agents to whom you submit queries, copy editor, acquisitions editor, production editor, publisher, legal, all people who have to communicate with the author. Plus family, friends, co-workers, colleagues.

Then if movie rights are involved, there's a whole 'nother bunch.

Then what if you win a Pulitzer?

That's a huge mob to muffle, many of whom would enjoy being the whistle blower.

How did Joe Klein make all those people dummy up about what he was doing with "Primary Colors?" He kept the secret for a year.
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alice
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alice

Number of posts : 15672
Registration date : 2008-10-22
Age : 72
Location : Redmond, WA

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 8:40 am

My neighbor managed it as Dr. X about 43 years ago.
The book was Intern.

I see he added his name now. Probably time passed and he quit practicing medicine and no longer wished to remain unknown.
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dkchristi
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dkchristi

Number of posts : 8594
Registration date : 2008-12-29
Location : Florida

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 9:09 am

Sort of the opposite of a ghost writer, I imagine. Ghost writers remain anonymous. If I wanted to write a book anonymous, I would hire a person to be the writer of record. Then, I'd write the book.
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 11:07 am

Al Stevens wrote:
Too many people have to be in on the production of the book and have to know who the author is. Proof readers, literary agents to whom you submit queries, copy editor, acquisitions editor, production editor, publisher, legal, all people who have to communicate with the author. Plus family, friends, co-workers, colleagues.

Why would friends, co-workers or colleagues have to know? As for the rest, you could use a pseudynom with all of them. Sure, you'll be asked for your SSN when they start giving money to you, but even that could be limited to perhaps two people in the publishing company.

The only people I personally communicated with at my 3 pubs were, at most, the acquisition editor, the development editor, and the production manager. Only the acq. editor would need to know who I am.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 11:39 am

Put yourself in different shoes.

How about when you're shopping the project around? Query letters. Unless you are lucky enough to get accepted on the first try, all those agents have read, if not your manuscript, then your synopsis.

And don't forget the publisher's legal staff, who must be in the loop. They won't let it be otherwise. They'll insist on seeing signed documents that name names depending on the work's content.

There are many people with whom you do not have contact who must know who you are.

They do not write checks to a SSN, for example. I guess you could have a numbered Swiss bank account.

When I published, I dealt personally with the aquisitions editor, the copy editor, and the production editor at a minimum. Sometimes those folks changed jobs and new folks inherited their projects. Sometimes they shared work.

As best as I can see it, the only way to pull it off is to have an agent who knows you and acts as a go-between in all transactions and communications between author and publisher. That would probably involve a higher commission. It would certainly make things more difficult.

I'd really like to ask Joe Klein how he did it. I'm going to try to find out. I might want to do that someday.

(To keep my wife from reading my memoirs, of course.)
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 11:41 am

LC wrote:
Why would friends, co-workers or colleagues have to know?
Research. An author doesn't always know (or remember) all the facts surrounding an event needed to be accurately addressed in the work.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 11:44 am

dkchristi wrote:
Sort of the opposite of a ghost writer, I imagine. Ghost writers remain anonymous. If I wanted to write a book anonymous, I would hire a person to be the writer of record. Then, I'd write the book.
Better hire somebody you trust. Royalties, and all that.

Reminds me of the Woody Allen movie about the guy who stood in for script writers during the HUAC blacklisting era.


Last edited by Al Stevens on Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 12:08 pm

Al Stevens wrote:
How about when you're shopping the project around? Query letters. Unless you are lucky enough to get accepted on the first try, all those agents have read, if not your manuscript, then your synopsis.

Ok, well, it obviously has a lot to do with the kind of book. But I don't know why you couldn't shop it around under a fake name, anyhow, even if credentials are required.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 2:02 pm

You could not expose credentials except in general terms. "I've written and published over ten books on the Zen of Roofing."

Assuming everything was email, you could say something like, "If the manuscript/synopsis interests you and you seem willing to represent it, I will rip off my glasses and reveal my secret identity to you only, Lois."

I'm not sure whether a serious agent would want to screw with something like that, though.

My guess is that Klein, already being an established journalist with ties to the Clinton campaign, did not have to shop for an agent.

Next, I wonder whether you can get a writer's account with Smashbooks or Amazon as "Anonymous." Many of the same problems would occur, I think.
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 3:34 pm

Quote :
Next, I wonder whether you can get a writer's account with Smashbooks or Amazon as "Anonymous." Many of the same problems would occur, I think.

How would it be different from a pen name?

As long as Smashbooks gets paid, I don't think they'd care. Send them a money order.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 5:52 pm

LC wrote:
How would it be different from a pen name?

The purpose as I see it isn't to hide the author's identity. The purpose is to attach an aura of mystery to the work, as if revealing the author's name would expose him to some kind of danger. Salman Rushdie kind of thing.

Or like if you were married to Lorena Bobbit and wrote your memoirs.

A pen name does not have as much marketing appeal as does Anonymous. Potential readers would not all recognize the subterfuge. They'd think the pen name was the author's name.

But write a whistle-blowing seemingly semi-autobiographical novel as Anonymous, and you attract more readers. Plus you add to the potential for a devoted constituency later when you come out of the closet. That's what Klein did.

I'm just trying to learn how he engineered the conspiracy that kept his secret.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

Number of posts : 1727
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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 5:53 pm

LC wrote:
As long as Smashbooks gets paid, I don't think they'd care. Send them a money order.
You don't pay Smashbooks. They pay you.
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Al Stevens
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Al Stevens

Number of posts : 1727
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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 6:02 pm

Anyway, the question was not "why?" but "how?" All this other stuff just obfuscates the issue, something that typically happens when participants don't understand the question. My fault for not being clearer.
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dkchristi
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dkchristi

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 6:15 pm

I still like my idea of hiring someone to use their name on everything. I have a friend who wishes to write a novel and not be associated with it for professional reasons. We have discussed writing it under my name, D.K. Christi and T.D. West (psudonym) with all contracting in my name. Another idea was for me to create a new psudonym, T. D. West (just an example) but decided the significant differences in the writing would complicate the issue.

If necessary you could have a separate contract between the two parties regarding royalties, rights, etc. with only the two parties and the attorney as witnesses. Of course, there's still a lot of trust issues.

However, corporations use non-disclosure and non-compete contracts all the time. I signed a non-disclosure that I wouldn't say anything negative about my former employer except to friends and family - if that isn't a silly clause - and they could repeat to anyone...talk about a useless signature.
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LC
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LC

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PostSubject: Re: Publishing as "Anonymous"   Publishing as "Anonymous" EmptySun Jun 27, 2010 7:56 pm

Quote :
Anyway, the question was not "why?" but "how?"

Well, clearly no one knows "how," so the thread turned into "why." It could have just died.

Make your pen name "Anonymous." lol
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