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I am writing my first novel. When I finish, I'd like to try publishing it. I've read other questions regarding the publishing process and they suggest that an aspiring author must do things like book tours, interviews, etc. While I'm not opposed to those things, I would like to remain anonymous.

In case anyone is concerned, I'm not writing anything inappropriate. I just value my privacy. I read another question about how practically to implement a pseudonym but I want to know how doing so effectively might hinder my entrance into the world of fiction.

I'm willing to do things like radio interviews, podcasts, blog posts, etc as long as they don't require me to show my face or disclose personal information. How severely do you guys think this would harm me?

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I doubt this will harm you at all. Many writers are introverts, and writing under a pseudonym is common—even traditional. You don't have to do any promotion that would make you feel uncomfortable. You can easily promote your book with written interviews.

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The modern reality of writing is that putting words on paper is only a small part of the job. To be successful, a story-product needs a marketing strategy. Great writers get turned away every day by the big publishing houses, not because of faults in their stories, but because the authors don't include a preexisting fan-base, a legion of twitter-followers and a low-budget, high-promotion marketing plan with the submission letter. The big publishers don't have to build their authors' communities anymore. There is such a glut of supply, that they can pick and choose from authors who have already created their own following.

Self publishing is even worse, since getting people to read and review your creations is like pulling teeth. The only hope many starting authors have is to leverage their family and friendships as the seeds for their reviews and online marketing.

If you choose to stay anonymous, you are cutting yourself off from every resource you have, except for your writing skill. Unless you have an absolutely incredible story subject, whose title will instantly self-market itself to thousands of initial readers, you should seriously reconsider this choice.

Most of use dwell in obscurity no matter how loudly we try to shout our names. Keeping your name silent seems counterproductive if you want to get your words into other peoples hands.

  • Very interesting! While I secretly hope this is inaccurate, it's what I'm afraid of. I'm going to wait to accept anything and see how other people vote. – sirdank Feb 16 '16 at 13:36
  • That's a good answer, but it is also what agents are for. None I have queried requested a marketing plan at the time of submission (to the agent). Although, many will tell you how to enact one, and I would recommend following any advice you get if you make it that far. – Stu W Feb 16 '16 at 14:33
  • @StuW. Okay, I got a little carried away with the "with the submission letter" comment. Thanks for keeping me honest! – Henry Taylor Feb 16 '16 at 15:37
  • Not every author needs an agent. There are pro's and con's in today's market. – Eric J. Feb 18 '16 at 22:44
  • This all sounds reasonable, but I also don't see why you can't develop a fanbase while still using a pseudonym and hiding your face from the public. I can think of several popular podcasters/youtube video makers, for example, who don't use their real names or do public interviews but who still have the kind of serious followings that might give them a strong argument for getting a book published. – 0A0 Feb 19 '16 at 16:25
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Historically there have been a good number of authors, both traditionally published and self-published, who have been very successful writing under a pseudonym. There isn't really any reason why you couldn't do the same. I myself have published over thirty titles using three different pen names, and I have had some moderate success with two of those. Ultimately, it isn't your name that will sell your books, but the quality of the writing.

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Of course it won't harm you! Look at Thomas Pynchon. He has been writing for more than 50 years and all we have is 2 pictures of his, and his voice has only been heard thrice on the media (Twice on the Simpsons and once in a promo for a book of his).

Despite his recluse though, he is considered one of the best American writers alive today.

If you want to remain like this, I think you should go for it. Keep in mind though that if you start to gain some fame, fans and reporters will try to find out who you are, take your picture etc. This has happened with Pynchon as well. And nowadays, everyone has a smartphone with a camera, so it'll be easier to take a picture of you if someone wants.

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I think that you might try to write under pseudonym, but if you will be successful, someone will do research and will find your true identity anyway. So whatever strategy you will apply, you should be prepared for someone identifying you and maybe even dig through not public but not secret information about your life.

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