Writing under a nom de plume

Printer-friendly version


Blog About: 

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Like many writers on this site, I write under a nom de plume, and I'm wondering how this affects my rights to assert ownership over anything I write. How can I assert I am the author of a piece of work when I'm not using my own name?

I'm currently writing a piece which I may consider selling on Kindle. If I do, what's to stop other people copying the text and selling it on one of the other ebook sites, or even publishing it in hard copy?



Using multiple author names is not a copyright issue they are still protected just look at nora roberts who also publishes as jd robb and stephen king who also publishes as richard bachman. All you can do publish and hope someone does not steal your work. film and music industry all suffer from similar problems but it is all part of publishing your work. Sure it will cost you some money but all you can do is turn the companies that steal work over to the government to handle the problem.

Jenna From FL
TopShelf BigCloset
It is a long road ahead but I will finally become who I should be.

How do I protect my works?

One of the things I do is maintain a series of files of my written material.

That is I have a folder in which all of my material, research, etc. (even if in separate folders within that all encompassing one) is kept for any given story. That folder is named for the Story and sometime Story - nom-de-plume.

As the story is written, I save it; naming each successive save as a slightly different name.

ie.: Last of the Fey -ver 1-01, Last of the Fey -ver 1-02, etc.

That gives my story a 'history' in the folder. Each version 1-01, 1-02, etc will have it's own date-time stamp.
Usually I make such a save after each completed chapter. (I save as I go but I rename the sub-version at each chapter)

If you write with each chapter as it's own file, then the first chapter (and essentially the concept) will have the earliest date-time stamp. You could even prepare a concept file which outlines the entire story's precept prior to its writing. The story doesn't need to closely follow the precept since during the writing things will change but at least you can prove you have a date on which you first conceptualized the story.

If you are really paranoid, as I frequently am, you can print that very first concept or chapter with the date of that printing shown on it and mail it to yourself. This provides a postal date stamp on the envelope. Be certain to seal the envelope prior to mailing in a manner which assures the seal must be broken or the envelope violated in order to change the contents of the envelope. When the envelope arrives, don't open it but place it in a "safe" place for future need. You could even send three or four envelopes with the same material in them and label the outside of each envelope in a lower corner with some code or name which you will recognise as being that particular story. With more than one copy mailed to yourself, if you should need proof at more than one time during your life then you will have more than one crack at it.

Otherwise, complete your story, register it with the copyright office (pay a fee) and that will lock it in. You can register a story electronically now (in fact they usually prefer it that way as it takes up less filing space which is now becoming a premium expense for the government).

I'm certain some of the more 'legal' minded individuals out there could come up with other solutions for you as well.


Keep a copy

of all of your works to back up your claim.

May Your Light Forever Shine

Here's what I do

Writing under a pen name did give me an element of concern that someone would steal my work and without a public record of it attached to my legal name, I would have no recourse. The following are some precautions I have implemented to ensure I can easily prove myself to be the author.

Prior to releasing any chapter, I email copies to my main email to time stamp it. Any copied work will come after that date. Additionally, copies are sent to my trusted editors establishing a copy of the work at a date before publishing.

2. My Mac saves every revision of every file while working on it. I can go back to

my first week and recall the version for that day and compare it with the one I

wrote two days later.

3. I keep all my handwritten notes showing a clear evolution of my story from basic

concepts to final published form. I have complete character bios, timelines, etc.

4 I keep a regular audio journal recorded almost weekly during my drive to work

where I discuss with myself plans for the story, resolve issues with continuity,

develop characters, design story arcs and plot twists, etc.

5. Many of the story elements including places, people, objects, and character behaviors while fictionalize are borrowed from

personal experiences and all detailed in my notes.

6. I know the end of my story and have written most major plot points leading up to

the end that all fits my foreshadowing like a glove.

7. Finally, my writing style. One can easily steal ideas, but one’s writing style is

almost like a signature and would hard to duplicate. I bet if ever writer wrote a

piece and left their name off of it, many would be able to tell who wrote it. (might be a fun exercise sometime)

Anyone who is that bad of a writer that they need to steal my work is going to have to

defend their side by producing equal or superior support documents to establish they are

the rightful owner over me. If taken so far as going to court, a judge usually always sides with the one with the most documentation to back up their case.

People say, "You don't know what you had until it's gone." Very true, but also equally true is, "You don't know what you've been missing until is arrives."

There is also the very low tech but more legally grounded

... way of mailing a copy of your work in *gasp* hard copy, sealed, certified and sealed using the certification label over the envelope flap to yourself. It may be more expensive but it is the tried and true as computer files can be altered.



erin's picture

That's not actually legally recognized. It is much easier and cheaper and more sure to register it through the copyright office than to go thru the mailing a copy charade. Not at all good advice. Such things are NOT tamper proof and such evidence is NOT always going to stand up in court while registration, will.


= Give everyone the benefit of the doubt because certainty is a fragile thing that can be shattered by one overlooked fact.

Many thanks for this helpful

Many thanks for this helpful advice. It looks like a copyright office is the best way to go - I never knew of them before.

But I still have one question: how do I link my nom de plume to me without that link becoming public knowledge?