Not unless you’re willing to create a whole identity for that name. If you are a prolific writer, you will need to have a website, email address, marketing copy, etc. for that identity. Everything that is tied to your actual person will need to be created for your made-up one. If you are worried about someone discovering that you write inflammatory political rhetoric or niche erotica, then try to find a way around using a pen name. Use only your initials; ensure your writing won’t ever come across in their sphere of influence (via social media or otherwise).
You want to be recognized for your work. Why let your fictitious name take the credit? You will never be able to brag about your accomplishments if you use a pseudonym. Say your erotica series takes off and you start earning big money. Do you think people will really care that you’re writing about scandalous rakes and Scottish lads in kilts? No! Take the money and be proud! Claim what is yours!
Using a pseudonym also opens you to legal issues regarding taxes. Of course, pen names are legal, but you’ll have to check with your state or country of origin to ensure you aren’t putting yourself in some sort of financial or legal jeopardy. You may need to register your pen name as a trademark.
Remember, creating and using a pen name is like a lying. It’s okay initially, but it can snowball. The logistics of working with a pen name are rarely considered, so take the time to explore your options!
You have chosen to self-publish which means that how successful you are is directly correlated to how active you are in marketing. You do not have an entire marketing team and publicist purchasing ad space in magazines/newspapers and setting up book signings. You have to make that happen. If you do nothing, your books will not sell. Thus, get creative!
Who is your audience? How can you sell to them?
If you’ve written a young adult book, get in contact with local schools and see if they would be willing to let you come do talks about your book. They probably won’t let you sell your book on school grounds, but if you generate enough interest—and provide marketing materials such as takeaways that route to a professional website—you could earn yourself new readers.
If you’ve written a nonfiction history book about a particular region, say, the American Southwest, get into contact with tourist centers in those key states. See if you can partner with them to present your findings.
If you’ve written a fiction book that takes place in the Catskill Mountains, look for venues, such as resorts, in that area and start reaching out.
Make friends and always be pleasant. You are no longer an author; you are a brand. Market yourself and your book.
Create takeaways, marketing materials that you can pass to someone. Ideally, we want someone to be enthralled with our books on the spot and to purchase a copy right there. But people are busy. They are running late to pick up their kids, or they don’t carry cash, or they hate chitchatting with strangers. Give them something they can take and review at home.
I recommend authors create glossy postcards as takeaways. Make sure to include social media and website information so readers can look you up. That’s why it’s so important to have a professional-looking website. If you send an excited reader to a website that appears immature, they will assume your book is not worth their time. Spend money on yourself and your work.
Reputable websites to create marketing materials include:
The UPS Store
As technologically advanced and user-friendly as everything has become these days, it’s ironic that we still have to go about finding an agent or a publisher the “old-fashioned” and tedious way; that is, querying. Querying entails going through lists of agents/publishers, identifying who might best represent you and your book (usually by genre), and following their guidelines to submit your work. Often, this means going to a publisher or agent’s website and uploading your manuscript or work according to their very specific rules (e.g., “include the first 15,000 words of your book, a cover letter, a synopsis, an explanation of your qualifications, a small sacrificial goat, and a magical purple woodland flower that bears thorns…”). Each publishing house/agent has their own guidelines. So, make yourself some tea, get cozy, and set aside a few days to knock out submissions.
Go into the process with the expectation that you won’t hear back as many offices don’t reply to submissions (aside from automated messages). If you do receive a response, it will be some four to nine weeks later, depending on the publishing house or agent office.
Google is your best friend as it will give you lists of publishers open to submissions. You can also visit Reedsy.
If you would prefer to go about querying with pen and paper, Writer’s Market is a good place to start. It lists all publishing houses and agents open to submissions for a given year. The book can be purchased online or at bookstores like Barnes & Noble.
It depends. If your primary selling platform is Amazon KDP or IngramSpark or if you are going to direct people to purchase from such print-on-demand services, then no. You do not need to purchase a barcode as those platforms will place your ISBN on the back cover along with their own barcode. However, if you are going to submit to a printing press or upload to multiple digital platforms, then you need to purchase a barcode with your ISBN.
If you purchase a barcode, ensure that you download all the files Bowker, or your respective ISBN office, provide. Often, this includes a PDF, PNG/JPG, and EPS.
The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a system-catalogued records in the Library of Congress. Libraries use the designated number to locate specific Library of Congress catalogue records in the national database and for other administrative necessities.
Because of the number of books the Library of Congress must review each year (which is literally hundreds of thousands), it is highly unlikely that a self-published book will be chosen to be added. Some authors, however, like to include the LCCN because it adds credibility to their book.
The Library of Congress also utilizes two, mutually-exclusive systems called CIP Publishers and PCN Publishers. CIP Publishing is not available for self-published or print-on-demand books.
Authors/self-publishers may, however, use the Prepub Book Link’s author/self-publisher portal to apply for the program and submit an application for an LCCN.
Owner/Editor of Emerging Ink Solutions, avid YA/NA author, adamant supporter of the Oxford Comma, anime and music enthusiast.