How To Get Paid Under a Pen Name (Author’s Guide)

Being an author isn’t simply about writing a great work of literature; it also involves publishing, marketing, and getting paid for a piece of work. However, some authors prefer to publish under a pen name to protect their privacy. Yet, how can you get paid under a pen name? 

Here are four ways to get paid under a pen name:

  1. Declare your real name on your publishing contract.
  2. Complete a Doing Business As (DBA) registration.
  3. Get a Certificate of Assumed Name. 
  4. Opt for payment in cryptocurrency.

In this guide, I’ll explain the different ways to get paid under a pen name, considering the legalities, benefits, and drawbacks of each option. I’ll also discuss the importance of choosing the right pen name and the benefits of using one.

1. Declare Your Real Name on Your Publishing Contract

If you have a publisher interested in publishing and marketing your work, you should make sure you have a contract that outlines your remuneration and rights.

The contract can include both your real and pen name with the provision that your publisher keeps it anonymous. 

This approach is relatively simple as it allows you to get paid into the bank account in your name or cash in a check written to you.

However, you should engage the services of an excellent legal company to make sure your contract protects your anonymity. 

2. Complete a Doing Business As (DBA) Registration

If you want to self-publish or avoid telling your publisher your real name, you can file for a Doing Business As (DBA) Statement. The DBA allows you to operate a business under a name other than your own in the US. So, you can register for a DBA under your pen name. 

Once you’re registered and approved for the DBA, your name won’t be connected with your business name. You can then set up a bank account under your business name. Provide your publisher or any concerned parties with these new bank account details to get paid. 

3. Get a Certificate of Assumed Name

You don’t need to register for another business name if you’ve already registered for a business under your name as a writer. Instead, get a Certificate of Assumed Name.

This allows you to conduct business under a name, not your legal business name. 

Register your pen name as an Assumed Name, and then provide your pen name as a business name to concerned parties. This way, you protect your identity and ensure all payments end up in your legal business account. 

To register for a Certificate of Assumed Name, consult with your state’s department or a corporate legal team. 

4. Opt for Payment in Cryptocurrency

Another option you may wish to consider is getting paid in cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency accounts ensure the privacy of the individual using the account. You don’t have to connect your crypto account to a bank or other financial institution or provide personal details to your publisher. 

Getting Paid Under a Pen Name: Advantages & Disadvantages 

To decide which option is best for you to get paid under a pen name, consider both the advantages and drawbacks of each option. Here’s a helpful table to assist in your decision:

Method for Getting PaidAdvantagesDisadvantages
Declare your real name on a publishing contract Simplest optionGet paid directly into your bank accountRequires you have high trust with the publishing company and transparent verification in your contract that your identity is protected. 
Doing Business As RegistrationYour name is easily protected. You can use the name while conducting other businesses to keep your real identity anonymous. Requires you to understand the legal complexities of operating under a different name.You may need to employ a legal professional. 
Getting a Certificate of Assumed Name Allows you to retain your business name and protect your identity by hiding your name from your publisher. Requires you to keep all your paperwork organized so you can track payments. You may need to consult with an accountant to ensure you’re taxed correctly.
CryptocurrencyOffers you almost watertight privacy. May involve some technical knowledge.
Many traditional publishers and literary agents will not use cryptocurrency platforms.  

Why Should You Use a Pen Name?

You should use a pen name if you want to protect your privacy as an individual. Or, perhaps you want to publish something radical and judge the public’s honest response. Some authors consider using a pen name when writing as an additional job to earn extra income.

Choosing the Right Pen Name

You should spend a considerable amount of time choosing a pen name. Here are some tips to keep in mind: 

  • Align with your personal brand. While the pen name doesn’t connect back to your name, you should make sure the name reflects who you are as a person – for instance; it may still reflect your gender or nationality. However, if you want to build another identity, choose a name that contrasts your initial brand. 
  • Be mindful of your appearance on social media. Before deciding on a pen name, do a thorough social media search and ensure that the name doesn’t belong to anyone or hasn’t been used before. 
  • Align with genre and target demographic. Consider how well your target audience will receive your pen name. It is best to speak with your publisher on this as they will have studies that show how particular types of names perform in the market. 

Final Thoughts 

While there are several advantages to using a pen name, it can be challenging to get paid. To ensure you do get paid under a pen name, follow all necessary guidelines for your chosen method with your literary agent. Keep in mind that you may also have to register your pen name legally. 

Be sure to consider your own circumstances and resources when choosing what route is best to go down. Overall, it’s advisable to work closely with your publisher or legal advisor to make sure you get paid your dues. 

About Hi' my name is Simon. I am the owner of Top Work Life. Together with a my team, I write content about income generating ideas, entreprenurship and growth as a person Read more about Simon & TopWorklife

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