The Editing Process

I’ve been writing and publishing books for nearly two decades. I love all aspects of writing, as well as helping other writers. When I work with new writers, I tell them to follow the Magic 3 Rule: Write your manuscript. Edit your manuscript. Put it in a desk drawer for one month—preferably two. Pull it out and look at it with fresh eyes, and do a second edit. Once done, the third and final edit should be completed by a professional copy editor.

I also tell new writers that the only phase within the writing process that they should ever spend money on is the editing process (not agents or writing contests). Finding the right editor is equivalent to hitting the lottery in this industry.

Your editor should be someone who enjoys your work, but can still prove honest and critical; someone better at the mechanics of writing than you are; someone who is not simply feeding his or her ego. Some editors believe that your work is not complete until their hand—or the hand of God—touches it. Steer clear of these people. Intentions are everything here. You need a second set of professional eyes, though—and please be sure to appreciate every second they put into your work—but you also want someone who is fair. If an editor does not appreciate your style or voice, how can they help better your work?

Today, a copy editor worth his or her salt will charge anywhere from $3 - $5 per double-spaced page. It's a lot of work, so it costs money. Some people try to haggle because the manuscript is double-spaced. Don't do that. The price takes that into consideration. 
There are lots of good editors out there, and I strongly urge that you hire one of them before you send your manuscript to any agent or publisher. It is not difficult to tell manuscripts that have been professionally edited from manuscripts that have not. In an industry where first impressions are everything, make the investment in your work.

What journey does your manuscript take while you're at home pacing the carpet? A line-by-line edit for grammar, punctuation and sentence structure (composition). A good editor will also give notes on story gaps (inconsistencies and continuity), as well as character development, scene set up, dialogue and overall plot.

It's up to you to do what you want with the notes, but weigh each one before you dismiss it. A worthy editor will make herself available for questions and minor edits once she's sent the manuscript back to the writer. The editor who chooses to cut you off when they're done is not someone you want to work with. Furthermore, a good editor will not get defensive if you ask her lots of questions. If she does, it’s another red flag. 

Please don't send out a manuscript with a coffee stain, dog-eared pages, and three different shades of paper—even to an editor. This says something about how you view your work. And aside from ratty-looking manuscripts, there are other common mistakes that you should absolutely avoid. With today’s technology, there is absolutely no excuse for misspelled words.

I’ve learned that the best way to find an editor is through referrals. If you've written a horror book make sure the editor you choose likes that particular genre. Many people actually don't check for this. Seriously, you won't get a fair edit if you don't do your homework.

The editing process can be a scary experience when you first get started, but it’s necessary to succeed in this business. For my last two books, Twelve Months & Goodnight, Brian, I wouldn’t have been as nearly successful without my copy editor’s keen eye. Trust me, when my publisher sent me to her I didn’t realize that I’d just hit the lottery!

Guest post by Steven Manchester, the author of the #1 bestseller TWELVE MONTHS and PRESSED PENNIES, THE UNEXPECTED STORM: The Gulf War Legacy, and JACOB EVANS, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly N ews. Recently, three of Steven’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.  

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Interview with Frank Zaccari

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I never expected to be a writer. I started writing books three years ago when I became a single custodial parent.  My daughters and I were in counseling when one of the counselors suggested I write a journal. So when my emotions wouldn’t let me sleep I would get up and write. This journal evolved into my first book “When the Wife Cheats.” Once this book was completed and published I discovered that writing became a form of relaxation and stress relief.  “Five Years to Live” is my fourth book in three years.

What genre do you write and why?

Three of my four books (“When the Wife Cheats,” “Inside the Spaghetti Bowl” and now “Five Years to Live”) are in the family/relationship genre. So it appears my writing leans in that direction. I envy fiction writers who can create a story purely from their imagination. I wish I had more of that skill. Since I don’t have that amazing creative gene, I write about things I know or have experienced in my life.  I live in all four of my books. For example, “When the Wife Cheats” and “Five Years to Live” are based on true stories. “From the Ashes: The Rise of the University of Washington Volleyball Program” and “Inside the Spaghetti Bowl” are true stories. I enjoy telling real life stories about families and family dynamics.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 

This is a learning experience. Since I self-published, the entire writing world is a new experience.  Without a publisher all the marketing and promotion is up to me.  The virtual book tours, (such as Partners in Crime), have been a wonderful way to make contact with other writers and many potential readers.  They are also a great source for feedback.

I created a website as source of information. I contracted with a PR firm to help promote my first book. They were able to schedule some radio interviews and professional reviews. It was fun but a little pricey. I am learning the “social media” tools. Lately, I have been using facebook to keep people informed and target groups that might have an interest in the topic. For example with “Five Years to Live,” I have been targeting people and groups that work in the disability world. I am learning how to use twitter – still have a long way to go however.  I found with twitter there are far too many posts announcing where someone is going for lunch.

I have also sent press releases to newspapers, magazines and organizations that I hope would be interested in the books. I haven’t found the magic formula yet, but I am going to keep trying. I am open to any all suggestions from your readers.

What formats is the book available in?

“Five Years to Live” is available in paper back and in kindle format.  The book is available in the United States and internationally from and I am told it can be ordered from major book stores or literary distributors.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
What a great question. Like the vast majority of writers I have a day job. Hopefully one of my books will become a best seller and I can focus solely on writing (hahaha).  When I became a single parent I had to stop traveling so I bought an insurance agency.  Being a small business owner keeps me very busy. During the day I am a business owner and single parent.  From 1:00 to 4:00 in the morning I write.

When I lived in Seattle, I became heavily involved with the University of Washington volleyball program. The program has become my escape. In fact my second book, “From the Ashes: The Rise of the University of Washington Volleyball Program,” is about this program. I still spend time working on the program’s business plan, helping them raise money and traveling whenever possible to watch these amazing young women represent their university with pride and the utmost class.

Who are your favourite authors?

I love authors who tell great stories. I have read every Sidney Sheldon book. He was an amazing story teller. I enjoy Jeffrey Archer’s ability to create intrigue and the ability that Mitch Albom, Nicholas Sparks and Tim Russert have to touch the reader’s heart.

Frank Zaccari
What advice do you have for other writers?

Writing is like every other aspect in life. Many times it is going to be a challenging and very frustrating process. Believe me there will be far more people with negative comments than positive. If it is your passion, if it is what you truly want, don’t listen to the people who will say you can’t do it.  When you feel completely overwhelmed or frustrated and depressed to the point where you want to quit – remember this “Look Up…Get Up…And Never Ever Give Up”. 

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?

I have two quotes about writers that make me smile. The first is from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Writers aren’t exactly people…They’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.”

I am paraphrasing the second one: Please be aware that writers may disappear for long periods of time without any warning. The second one sounds like me. When I am working on a book, I have gone several consecutive days without any contact with the outside world.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

It has to be the great sense of accomplishment. Holding a copy of my first book was exhilarating! I couldn’t believe I was actually holding a book with my name as the author.  It gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I have written four books. It would be better if one or all of them become a best seller (hahaha), but until that day comes I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I hope your readers will enjoy “Five Years to Live” and my other books. If they are interested they can reach me through a number of methods:

I have a website:

You can reach me on facebook at:

I have just started using twitter, you can follow me @fzaccari

Send me an email:

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience with your readers. I hope they enjoy “Five Years to Live.”  More importantly I hope and pray they will never experience the horror that comes with that phone call informing them that there has been an accident and their loved one is paralyzed.


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Tips for Guest Blogging Success

Guest blogging is a great way to; drive traffic to your sites, reach a new audience, sell more books and build your reputation as part on an on-going marketing strategy or as part of a scheduled virtual tour. Approaching it in the right way will make a big difference in the success you have and increase your chances of being invited back for future features. 

Here's an infographic that sums up a few tips that will help you achieve guest blogging success:

Do you have some of your own tips about guest blogging or know of some great sites that are accepting guest posts? Share in the comments section.

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The Art of Children’s Books

I believe that Children's Books occupy a very important, sanctified part of our memory. There is a kind of magic to them. Probably that's partly because of the way they imprint on us; our Mom or Dad reading to us in bed, a favorite story that we only get to hear at our Grandparent's house; I remember my Dad reading me The Hobbit when my family was in Alcapulco, and the floor of our beach hut was sand, and I could hear the ocean outside while Bilbo invisibly approached the sleeping dragon. I think people have a personal feeling about the children's books they love that is deeper than books discovered in adulthood. These stories are fundamental to who we are.

I think Maurice Sendak typified this quality in a profound way. He understood something about the way children exist in the world that is part of what makes his work so lasting and vital; he didn't ever simplify the experience of being a child. He wasn't saccharine, or cute. His stories felt true because they contained elements of terror, of extravagant boasting, and of the animal urges we all have. That is why, perhaps, his stories always felt like they were speaking directly to you, rather than down to you. 

I remember in an NPR interview with Terry Gross, he spoke about a promise he made to himself never to forget what it felt like to be a child. I think most kids swear this oath to themselves, at one point or another. I remember making it myself. I had a running list of things I would never do to a kid when I crossed over to the other side of the river, into adulthood. Most of the things on the list had to do with not underestimating the depth of children's ability to understand. Because the equipment through which we experience the world is there from the beginning; we have our senses, our feelings, and our ability to remember. What we don't have is experience to measure our new encounters against; we don't yet have "wisdom". And one side of this coin shows itself in the face of a child's hysterical crying over the loss of a toy, or the fear of a horror, or the rage of an injustice---there is nothing to measure those experiences against, therefore they all register as seismic. The other side of the coin, however, is the perpetual sense of wonder, because everything is new, demanding understanding. And this, I think, is quality of experience all great children's books are able to capture; the sense of immediate, strange, and dazzling wonder.

Guest post by Jessica Love. About the Illustrator: Jessica Love grew up in California, with two artist parents. She studied pintmaking and drawing at UC Santa Cruz, then went to study acting at The Juilliard School in NYC.

Jessica currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, toggling back and forth between her work as an actor and her work as an artist.

The World of Ink Network is touring author Sands Hetherington and illustrator Jessica Love’s nighttime adventure children’s chapter book, Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine the second book in the Night Buddies series published by Dune Buggy Press throughout January and February 2013. You can find out more about Sands Hetherington, Jessica Love and the Night Buddies series World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

The first book in the Night Buddies series, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare is available anywhere books are sold.

Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine, the second book in the Night Buddies series, has a ton of mischief going on all over the Borough, done by a red crocodile and causing confusion and hard feelings everywhere, and just released everywhere books are sold.

Follow the Night Buddies at
Facebook Fan Page:
Twitter: @Night_Buddies

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Research Temptations

I write fantasy and the first thing that might surprise readers is that I do a lot of research before I ever sit down to put words on the page. Most of what I come across goes in a printed binder and use a fraction of the whole thing. Research a lot and then utilize only the choice pieces. That’s my motto.

However, it’s easy to get distracted from the actual task of writing by researching. For example, in my current release, Destiny’s Mark, I researched Hong Kong: the subway system, the harbor, the major hotels, the topography, and roadways up the mountains, the food. Ah, yes the food. That started to distract me. I reviewed blogs of recipes from the major hotels, pictures and commentaries on the local street vendors, traveler’s notes on what they like best and why. Hmm, it’s enough to make one hungry and waste time considering whether I can make one of the dishes for dinner.

The key for me was to remain focused. I knew which scenes I needed to depict local flavor (no pun intended), and what I lacked, which was a great deal. I didn’t have time or the money to hop a plane to Hong Kong and it was only one of the destinations in the book.

So, I plastered street maps on my walls and plotted a walking tour of my character’s routes and destinations. I made notes of physical characteristics as well as sensory notations for each point of significance.

I did the same when I researched China’s rules for marriage, death, births from unwed mothers, the use of Russian immigrants to build portions of the Chinese railroads, and more.

Now did I still spend hours reviewing information that I didn’t need. Well, yes. But frankly, most information is useful at some point. Perhaps just not for this book. The more I use this process, the more I find myself remember some old tidbit I’d run across that I can use now. So the details, URLs, and references to people and books get printed and put in the research book for that story or the next.

I’ve done the same thing for my current work-in-progress, which is set in Peru. Again with the maps, the travel guides, the online travel blogs from hikers and jetsetters that visit the places I want to highlight. I even read the online newspapers of the cities I plan to use as a backdrop for the story. This is a form of emersion. I can glance through the binder, look at the maps on the walls, bring up a restaurant or menu, and get the gist of the pace of life and outlooks for that region.

I’ve done the same research for everything from demons and ancient religions to the history of Tai Chi and the international cataloging of fault lines.

Now back to the key point. Research is valuable for creating the essence of small details in a story, creating reality in a fantasy world. The key is to know when to stop or you never get the story written. I give myself a week for the research, which coincides with my brainstorming of the plot points for the outline. Some research will add to back-story and some will add to secondary plots, but all will wind down after the first week. I’ll still look up occasional things as I write the first draft. However, I try to keep a lid on tangents once the story is in progress.

Guest Post by KH LeMoyne

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Interview with Lisa A. Baeringer

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I first realized I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school.  Even though I always had an enormous amount of imagination and creativity as a child, I discovered I wanted to write when I started my English Lit. class in high school.

What genre do you write and why?
Right now I am working on an autobiography.  I decided on this genre because I find it therapeutic as well as an important message to convey to the world.

Tell us about your latest book?
The book I am working on now is titled, I Bet You Didn't Think MS Could Look This Good.  I wanted to break the misconceptions of people having MS.  Normally when we hear about MS we think of a person living in a wheelchair.  I know I did when I was first diagnosed.  Sometimes I still do.  But MS is so different in people that a normal stereotype can not be labelled to it.  I wanted to write about my daily battles with MS along with my everyday life as a mother and wife.  I wanted to target the "common people" who are living with a chronic illness and face so many hardships.  I wanted to give them a voice.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I am using LinkedIn, my own website/blog, amazon preview page, book trailer on youtube, a professional facebook page, spannet, and doing some freelance article writing on articlebase to get my name more well known.

What formats is the book available in?
When it is released, the book will be available in paperback and most likely ebook version.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Website: (for all links to my various media sites)


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How to get your characters to talk to you

You’ve got a great idea and you’re ready to write, but then your characters look at you with a curled lip egging you on to even try to get in their brain.  When we were in grade school you learned the Ws; who, what, where, when, how and why.  You’re not in grade school now.  Jane is not going up the hill with Dick.  Jane is batting her eyes as she feels the warm breeze from the late summer wind, she’s dreaming of running her fingers through Dick’s dark hair as he holds her in an embrace.

How did she get the desire building deep inside her?  Where is she coming from?  She’s not going to answer that question because you asked.  In my experience when I have a stubborn character that doesn’t want to share her story I get a snack and sit down with him or her and interview them. 

There are simple questions you can ask or you can do hard ones. The ones I find most important are:

What’s your name?  I know it seems simple, but there is more to a name than just Jane Jones.  What does the name Jane mean?  Is she one of those Jones’ or did she marry into that name? 

Tell us about yourself. This is where you discover the moral fiber and why’s of your character.  I was the middle child of seventeen or I was raised to believe in myself by hippie parents, etc.

What do you do?  Some people have jobs and some people have professions.  Even if the person’s a fry cook at the local fast food place, if they’re like Spongebob who sees it as his life’s profession, it’ll mean more to him than a successful stocks trader who hates what he does and wants to be a carpenter.

What’s your greatest fear?  Fear equals weakness, most characters need to overcome something.  Whether it’s spiders or commitment, everyone has an Achilles heel.

What’s your greatest desire?  Yes, it seems like Jane’s desire is for Dick (You know I’m really irritated that in the forties and fifties they didn’t see how wrong those names were…go back to question number one). Jane’s real desire might be to go to Alaska and mine for gold.  We don’t know, ask her.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?  A serial killer may say the worst thing he’s ever done was not taking the necklace off the corpse because he really liked it.  While a regular person might say they left without paying for coffee.  Again, you’re learning about their morays.

How have you been admirable?  “Why yes,” Jane cooed. “I brushed my teeth after going down on Dick at the top of the hill before I made him kiss me.”  Your humble characters might still say no even though they rebuilt a house for a family after a fire. 

What could make you cry?  Do you have a weeper or could you watch your whole family die in front of you and think…hmm, I guess it’ll only be one for supper tonight.

What could make you murder?  For characters that are parents, this could be an easy one.  Unless they are bad parents.  Do you see how this is showing you so much into their souls?

What would describe you in a few words?  This will be the hardest one to answer and could turn into your catch phrase.

Still can’t get the tight-lipped character to talk?  How about this?  I recently learned about using Tarot Cards with writing.  No, I’m not saying summon the dark forces to tell you if you have a best seller on your laptop.  There are many types of Tarot Cards out there, and they all have different sets of pictures.  I just picked up a very paranormal set with amazing graphics.  It doesn’t matter what the card says or means, it’s what the picture say to you. 

Lay out a card for every question, then look at them in order.  You’d be amazed how a picture can answer the question for you.  Again, it’s not about the death card or the king of cups, it’s about what does the figure or person or drawing say to you.
Just remember, there is more than just the Ws in writing, you’re creating a person or being that if they walked off your page could be whole.  If you can’t do that for your characters, people aren’t going to care about them and if they don’t care, they wont read.

Michel Prince
Guest post by Michel Prince. Michel Prince is an author who graduated with a bachelor degree in History and Political Science.  Michel writes young adult and adult paranormal romance as well as contemporary romance.

With characters yelling "It's my turn damn it!!!" She tries to explain to them that alas, she can only type a hundred and twenty words a minute and they will have wait their turn.  She knows eventually they find their way out of her head and to her fingertips and she looks forward to sharing them with you.  

When Michel can suppress the voices in her head she can be found at a scouting event or cheering for her son in a variety of sports.  She would like to thank her family for always being in her corner and especially her husband for supporting her every dream and never letting her give up.

Michel is a member of RWA Pro and Midwest Fiction Writers.  She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, son, cat and new puppy. 


Michel will be awarding a butterfly gift basket to one randomly drawn commenter and a butterfly necklace to a second randomly drawn commenter. So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:
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Life as a Writer in the Old World

Some people move to California, where the weather is warm. Some people pick up stakes and move to Texas, where the jobs are. I moved to Europe to teach English. I didn’t have a grand plan. I didn’t know I was going to stay for the next 20 years.

After a few years of teaching in France, Germany and Switzerland, I was promoted to manager of a language school in Basel, Switzerland. I immersed myself in the world of small business, selling language courses, meeting with customers, hiring and training teachers.
The language training business is a very satisfying one. People come in as total beginners, and after a short time they have basic speaking skills. They can use their new language skills to order food in a restaurant, talk to a doctor or dentist, or complain about a phone bill. After a year or more, they have learned enough to get through a job interview in the foreign language, or conduct a meeting.
People often learn a language because of a relationship. So we often have the satisfaction of knowing we are helping people communicate with friends and loved ones as we teach them a language.

But after more than 20 years in the business, despite the satisfaction of knowing we were doing important work, something was missing for me. Day after day there were the same squabbles with customers or staff who didn’t like the rules. Every day there was the same pressure to improve quality while cutting costs. Every year we would add up the numbers and figure out the profit or the loss.
I always wanted to write fiction, and I started writing my first book, Doing Max Vinyl, in 2008, while still working full time running my language school. I wrote mostly on weekends and during vacations, while the family was out skiing. It took two and a half years to write, and I discovered that I was happiest when I was working on my manuscript.
After spending almost a year trying to get an agent interested in Doing Max Vinyl, I discovered the new world of publishing independently on Amazon and Smashwords. It was a great feeling to have finished Doing Max Vinyl. As soon as my first book was available I started writing the sequel, Zombie Candy. In Zombie Candy there is a long sequence that takes place in Tuscany, a part of Italy where I love spending time. Now I’m working on the third book in the series.
I’ve been able to quit my job running the language school in order to devote most of my time to writing. Of course, there has been some belt tightening in our family with this decision. But I think life is too short to stay in the rat race permanently. Instead of adding up the numbers at the end of every week, month and year, now I get to play with language and concoct stories out of my imagination.
It doesn’t matter where you live, as a writer. What matters is where you go in your mind, when you are reading or writing. Now, all the borders and boundaries come down when I start my work every day.
Believe me, I am aware of how lucky I am.
Guest post by Frederick Lee Brooke
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Horror
Rating – PG13
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Frederick Lee Brooke on Facebook & Twitter
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What's your Website done for you today?

image via
Every writer should have a website... no wait, let me rephrase that... every writer should have a website that works for them.

Given the vast (and constantly increasing) number of websites on the internet it's no longer enough to have just a basic piece of internet real-estate with your author bio on it. Readers want more.

If you're a freelance writer you should be using it to hook new clients. If you're an author you should be building your author brand and driving people to read your books.

So how do you stand out from the crowds and get your website to work for you?

Here's a run down of a few things you'll want to consider:

Have the right look.
Is your website professional looking? Does it express your personality and interests?

Update regularly. 
The best sites on the internet have fresh content that keeps readers interested and draws new visitors.

Make sure it's complete.
Give your readers all the information they could possibly want. They might not read it all but it's good to give them the option. Make sure you keep things clutter free and easy to navigate though.

Be press friendly.
Following on from the last point, make sure you supply material for members of the press. A media page with a sample interview, media kit, bio and images can get you some extra media coverage.

Be available.
What's the point in having a website if you don't give people the option of contacting you. As a minimum make sure you have your email address on site so people can get in touch....without it you might be missing out on some great opportunities. Not to mention blocking your fans from communicating with you.

What tips would you add to this list?

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Authors, Pseudonyms, and Copyrights: Does Using a Pen Name Jeopardize Your Legal Claim to Your Book?

Pseudonyms—or pen names—are nothing new; authors have been publishing books under assumed identities for centuries. And according to copyright law, whatever you're calling yourself, you automatically own the copyright to your own book just by having written it.

But what happens if you face a situation where you have to legally claim ownership of your intellectual property—in a copyright infringement lawsuit, for instance? If you've been publishing under a pseudonym, how will you prove that pen name is really you?

[Note: The author is not a lawyer, and this article is not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice from someone familiar with your unique situation.]

What does copyright law say about claiming ownership?

According to copyright law:

"Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is cre­ated in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who cre­ated the work." (source:

This sounds simple enough, right? As long as the book has made it past the idea stage and onto paper or screen, the person who wrote it owns it.

Of course, copyright law being a complex and convoluted creature, it's never quite that simple.

Under ideal circumstances, an author can go right along enjoying his or her automatic copyright indefinitely (or, at least, until the copyright has expired). But what happens when someone infringes on your work, and sending a cease and desist letter doesn't do the trick?

Again, copyright law:

"Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, regis­tration is necessary for works of US origin."

There's the kicker: while it's free and automatic to *own* a copyright, *protecting* that ownership is another matter.

What does copyright registration have to do with pseudonyms?

Quite a bit, in fact—depending on what you're actually trying to accomplish by using a pen name.

Pseudonym for a whim

There are many reasons an author might decide to use a pen name for no deeper reason than personal choice. These reasons might include:
  • To hide or neutralize the author's true gender from the public in a field perceived to be more welcoming of the opposite sex (such as J.K. Rowling, a gender-ambiguous handle)
  • To create a new child-friendly persona (as Theodor Geisel did when he became Dr. Seuss)
  • To avoid oversaturating the market between major releases (which, rumor has it, is one reason the prolific Stephen King published as Richard Bachman for several years)
Copyright registration requires certain information about the author and the owner, and this information is a matter of public record. But an author publishing under a pseudonym for any of these reasons may not have a need for complete security, especially pen names used by children's authors.

For many authors, the fact that anyone can access their copyright records and learn their real identities is not a cause for concern and may even be a welcome benefit. (It's difficult to agree to movie treatments when producers don't know who to ask!)

The copyright registration process makes it easy for an author to provide a pseudonym in conjunction with his or her legal name—and, of course, the copyright certificate is all the official proof the courts might require of the author's connection to both pseudonym and intellectual property.

Pseudonym for security

Of course, other authors may have very different reasons for using pen names, reasons that do require publication to take place in absolute secrecy. Two might be:
  • To publish political material without fear of government retaliation, especially in totalitarian countries
  • To keep opponents of controversial issues from seeking out and harassing an author's family
In these cases, obviously, creating a public record connecting the author's real name to the work would defeat the pseudonym's entire purpose. When security is an issue, further obfuscation is required.

It's perfectly legal for an author to register a copyright under a pen name without revealing his or her true identity—but this brings us back to our previous question: How can legal ownership be proved if the author's true legal name doesn't appear on the copyright registration?

The bottom line: There are a number of ways to prove the use of a pseudonym, but they are external to the copyright process itself. In these cases, it's important to speak to a lawyer about drawing up the necessary paperwork that connects your name to your pseudonym so that your connection to your pseudonym is legal and undeniable.

Sarah Kolb-Williams
Guest post by Sarah Kolb-Williams, a book editor, writer, and copyright specialist. She blogs about intellectual property protection for authors and other creative professionals at
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