Okay. This is it...
The publishing world has changed. A lot. Skip this little piece of advice and you could kick yourself for decades. Because once your book is out there, it's out there. Even if you pull it from Amazon, chances are Goodreads still has it on file and well, if your name is mud, there's no un-doing it.
So what's my advice to teens publishing a book?
Use a pen name.
Yup. And here's why.
Let's say you spend your high school writing career crafting an epic trilogy. Regardless of what author name you slap on the thing, one of three things can happen:
Scenario One: The Lightning Strike
You hit the big time. I'm talking J.K. Rowling, paparazzi knocking on your parents' door. If you use your real name, you are stuck. Every college class you take, every job application you fill out, everywhere you go, your real name is recognizable. If you used a pen name and lightning strikes, at least people will have to work at it a little. You have a shot at a normal life (happily funded by the lightning strike paycheck).
Scenario Two: The Books Do Well
Your trilogy does well. You can keep writing about space pirates (or whatever) and keep the pen name. Or maybe you decide you never want to see the words space and pirate together again and you switch to writing mysteries. You can leave the space pirate pen name happily collecting readers and use a new pen name for your mystery series. (Or you can ignore the whole genre thing and write whatever you want. Totally your call)
Scenario Three: The Trilogy Tanks
Your sentient centipedes trilogy tanks hard and the name you published under is mud. M.U.D. But, you learned a lot about publishing and still want to write. This time you leave the pen name in the mud and do a little research to find out what readers want, and you can start fresh.
But if you used your real name, well, now, you have that hanging on you for the rest of your life.
Pick the Right Nom du Plume
Word of advice. Choose carefully. Readers expect author names to sound like they belong to real people. You could write about those space pirates under the name of Jack Sparrow, but I'm pretty sure you will end up with Disney lawyers on your doorstep. And you do not want to mess with the kings of copyright.
So pick a good pen name. You can always reveal your secret identity, but you can't chuck your real name. And in the information age, anonymity is a valuable thing.
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