Homme de Plume
August 4, 2015 3:33 PM   Subscribe

What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name: I sent the six queries I had planned to send that day. Within 24 hours George had five responses—three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests. The responses gave me a little frisson of delight at being called “Mr.” and then I got mad. Three manuscript requests on a Saturday, not even during business hours! The judgments about my work that had seemed as solid as the walls of my house had turned out to be meaningless. My novel wasn’t the problem, it was me—Catherine.
posted by frumiousb (62 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
rage. It's just so enraging.

Clearly all applications, of any kind, must be submitted blind.

My sister is head of HR for a city, and she's beginning to consider implementing a name-blind recruiting process, at least for the first pass, to avoid this kind of gender- and race-based unconscious bias in the hiring.
posted by suelac at 3:44 PM on August 4, 2015 [51 favorites]


suelac: "My sister is head of HR for a city, and she's beginning to consider implementing a name-blind recruiting process, at least for the first pass, to avoid this kind of gender- and race-based unconscious bias in the hiring."

Except for the extra level of processing involved, why wouldn't you, really?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:46 PM on August 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


Wow. Never occurred to me to do this and now I'm regretting that I already queried all the agents I thought would be most interested in the novel I wrote a couple years ago and never did anything with.

Of course, this actually would widen the agent pool for my novel considerably, because I tended to assume male agents wouldn't be interested in representing a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl. But actually, there's no reason to assume that if the author is male.

UGH I HATE EVERYTHING
posted by town of cats at 3:52 PM on August 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


I had similar results when I tried sending out stories with a 'white' name (literally: Jennifer White). Jennifer received personalized rejections with encouraging notes instead of a form and some people wanted to see more of her work.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:55 PM on August 4, 2015 [29 favorites]


"My sister is head of HR for a city, and she's beginning to consider implementing a name-blind recruiting process, at least for the first pass, to avoid this kind of gender- and race-based unconscious bias in the hiring."

This is a good start. In hiring, however, you're still going to look at a school/degree, and many people who grew up low-income or middle-income didn't go to brand name schools, but might still be great at the job you are hiring for.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:57 PM on August 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


The thing that makes me most mad about the gender gap in published authors, are the absurd justifications that get trotted out. Especially the one that women writers are more reticent but male writers are more willing to take risks. No, it's not because of that, it's because the publishing industry, at all levels, holds women back while pushing men up.
posted by Kattullus at 3:57 PM on August 4, 2015 [46 favorites]


Oh mannn, betweenthebars, I didn't even think about the fact that my name is an Asian woman name (I'm not Asian but my name is). Not only did I fail to wear a fake penis but I accidentally discarded my white privilege like a chump. The kind of mistake only a person with privilege makes, I guess.

Well, the good news is I'm going to come up with a fucking FABULOUS white guy name and try this myself. Jeffrey Clinton! Anthony Bush! Theo Wallace! Oh man, the possibilities.
posted by town of cats at 4:02 PM on August 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


"The thing that makes me most mad about the gender gap in published authors"

Actually, now that I've worked myself up into a frothing rage about all this, I realize it's the everything about the gender gap in publishing that gets me most mad.
posted by Kattullus at 4:02 PM on August 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


and then of course THIS guy shows up:

"I’m a published author (male) and sighed deeply throughout this piece. [...] Certainly, structural sexism exists in publishing, but you’re overstating it."
posted by young_son at 4:04 PM on August 4, 2015 [52 favorites]


Oh man poor guy sighed deeply throughout... It just must be so exhausting for them.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:12 PM on August 4, 2015 [84 favorites]


Well, there's also data like Susan Connolly's breakdown that showed that for the major SF short fiction venues, at least, there are differences in how many male vs. female authors even put themselves forward. I know at the places I work, we've tried a couple of tactics to increase submissions from authors who identify as women, but it's still pretty lopsided.

But yeah. Subconscious bias. Ick. That's an amazing difference described in the posted article, and not at all unbelievable; probably all of the things she lists in the article are contributing factors, conscious and un-. I know that I have very different feelings about stories depending on who the author is. I'm mildly proud that my personal picks from Drabblecast slush have been about 90% women without really "cheating" (in the sense of deliberately excluding men in any conscious way. Apparently my subconscious biases are at least a little off-kilter from the standard.) On the flip side, you also have things like the near-gibberish Lois Tilton wrote about Uncanny Magazine (which is a great read, btw).

I dunno. The whole thing is a mess.
posted by Scattercat at 4:14 PM on August 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think 17 manuscript requests of 50 male-name submissions versus 2 of 50 with female-name submissions is statistically relevant, oh Mister Published Author (Male), Deeply Sighing.
posted by chimaera at 4:15 PM on August 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


Yeah, even aside from fixing the gross inequality, it sounds like if anything the publisher stands to gain the most from anonymizing the manuscripts until after they've passed a round or two of approvals, by removing this bias that's causing them to dismiss out of hand work that they actually see merit in.
posted by Drexen at 4:18 PM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Between this and the recent debacle about the "Inspirational" romance novel between a Nazi and a white-passing Jewish girl being nominated for major awards, I'm just...I want to say I'm aghast, but honestly I'm just tired and sad and angry and helpless feeling.
posted by angeline at 4:23 PM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Isn't this same phenomenon why most orchestra try-outs are now conducted with a screen between the judges and performer? It's so frustrating to see yet another example of this. The trend of naming girls with traditionally boy names makes a lot more sense now.
posted by quince at 4:30 PM on August 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


This is a good start. In hiring, however, you're still going to look at a school/degree, and many people who grew up low-income or middle-income didn't go to brand name schools, but might still be great at the job you are hiring for.

If you're hiring people where using blind applications is even possible you probably aren't hiring for jobs where prestige degrees are in play.
posted by srboisvert at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


The trend of naming girls with traditionally boy names makes a lot more sense now.

I considered naming my daughter something androgynous for just this reason. Of course, if enough people pick the same name, then it's RUINED! RUINED! for boys forever and will thus be identifiable as a girl's name. I'm always put in mind of the crotchety old anti-Semitic father of the protagonist's girlfriend in Joseph Heller's Good As Gold who goes on a rant about all of the venerable old names that the Jews have ruined. "You've taken a number of our very best names from us...Sidney, Irving, Harold, Morris, Seymour, Milton, Stanley, Norman — all of them noble, all of them no longer ours."

Otherwise, this just makes me really sad and weary.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:51 PM on August 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've toyed with creating a younger online persona to experiment in the same way WRT age. (I already have felt "chronological discrimination" rearing its obnoxious young head, after no doubt many times over the years having gender prejudice as an issue too.)
posted by NorthernLite at 4:52 PM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Strident" is a gendered word, right? 'Cause I find myself, lately, just on the verge of being properly strident. Imma 'bout to instigate a punching spree.
posted by lauranesson at 5:01 PM on August 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


betweenthebars, if you google "Jennifer White" you might find a reason that you received more personal responses to your submissions.

Jokes aside, making applications processes as blind as possible sounds like a good thing. Still won't be perfect, and likely would have unintended consequences, but they could be fixed as it went along. I've fantasized about sending out resumes with a white sounding name, but assuming I got to the interview how would I explain my real name without implying that the employer is (unconsciously) racist?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:03 PM on August 4, 2015


I figured this out a few years ago. Every submission I've made with a male name has been published. Every. Single. One. Even the bad ones. I mean, really...stuff I won't admit I wrote...published.

I, some time ago, did a writer's conference with a set of married, very prominent, editors. One of the first things they opened the conference with was: "Currently, it is boys who don't have their stories told. We want stories about boys, from people who understand the male perspective." Swear to god. On my manuscript, one of them wrote "Female coming of age stories don't read as sci-fi, even if set off-world and presumed tech. Have you considered writing romance?" (I'd like to say that I went ballistic and nuked all the things from space, but I didn't. I politely seethed. Because it's what you do when one of the most powerful editors in the industry pats you on the head. Because murder is wrong, and I would look terrible in an orange jumpsuit.)

Lest you think it was just me, and my overwrought, chest heaving, bodice ripping story, every other woman in that conference was given short shrift, and two of them have subsequently gone on to great publishing success. Not with that publisher, obviously...because if all you're looking for is another Ender's Game, then why the fuck would you look at Hunger Games?

In my experience, this bias has been true for fiction, especially detective and sci-fi, it has been true for magazine articles, it has been true for white paper consultations/rewrites. The only time it isn't true is when it's a specific female market looking for a female perspective on something...and while my publishing rate is lower in those markets, those times I just assume my query isn't what they're looking for, rather than assuming that I was betrayed by boobs.

I've almost decided that I'm just going to go all James Tiptree on this shit and never look back.
posted by dejah420 at 5:08 PM on August 4, 2015 [75 favorites]


I had similar results when I tried sending out stories with a 'white' name (literally: Jennifer White). Jennifer received personalized rejections with encouraging notes instead of a form and some people wanted to see more of her work.

"White" as a surname reads black more than white to me - "Jennifer" does succeed in flipping it (strongly) the other way though.
posted by atoxyl at 5:13 PM on August 4, 2015


One of the most uncomfortable interviews I've ever had was with a recruiter who thought I was a man until I showed up in person. She expressed some surprise and then went awkwardly about trying to interview me about some architecture documents I'd brought along as sort of work samples.

We were both getting pretty frustrated as she was asking me questions I didn't understand about where I got my information, until I realized that she had mentally demoted me to some sort of assistant, and assumed that my contribution to those projects had been gathering and documenting information about the system, rather than actually creating the information in the first place. The job they'd initially contacted me about was a good match for my skills and experience at the time, but she had quickly changed tack and was interviewing me for, basically, a position that I would have delegated to an intern or junior employee.

It makes me sick when I try to speculate how much actual economic damage sexism has caused me and others in my field, and it makes me sick to see it happening to other women in other fields as well.

What makes me extra super sick about women's writing being marginalized is look at how many women are in the top selling fiction authors of all time. When women do break through the many layers of sexism, first in their personal lives, then in the industry and in the market, they can sell very well, even if only in a few limited genres. Look at how many women on that list were able to expertly identify and consistently produce material that their audience wanted to read. How can anyone look at that and question whether women are capable of writing books that people want to read?

Which raises the question of how many talented women writers have not been able to muster the superhuman effort required to persist, and what we've been missing out on because of that. How many women who write outside of the limited genres where consumers accept women authors? How many women just gave up because they weren't getting any help or positive feedback? And how does it affect our perceptions of what literature is supposed to be when it is so heavily dominated by (mostly white) male perspectives?

Those authors deserve better treatment, and so do their potential readers. We are all missing out.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:23 PM on August 4, 2015 [66 favorites]


This is basically the reason i named my 3 (black) daughters with androgynous white sounding names. This!
posted by ramix at 5:26 PM on August 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Every submission I've made with a male name has been published ...stuff I won't admit I wrote...published.
It not only improves you marketability, it gives you deniability!

Related to the recent infamous “Writing Women Friendly Comics” panel at GenCom, with Fables author Bill Willingham going full man-splain to a disappointed/shocked/angry crowd. (I considered giving it an FPP of its own, but this is a good place for it)

If you want some nice white male names to use on your manuscripts, feel free to use my "Craig" and "Wendell"... I had pretty good luck with both and am not currently using either professionally. (The only thing that seemed to hurt me was having no H in Wittler, so get the most 'conventionally-spelled' last name you can)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:33 PM on August 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


If it's the same Catherine Nichols, then she is "...a versatile professional with more than twenty years of experience as a writer and book editor for major publishing companies. My 60+ published books include beginning and leveled readers, chapter books, and longer works of nonfiction..."

It's probable the agents knew her, or were responding to this easily identifiable background. For an objective test, she should also have submitted under a made-up female name.
posted by Segundus at 5:37 PM on August 4, 2015


Are you seriously saying they were less likely to look at her because they knew her? That is not how publishing works. That is not how most professions work. Knowing people gets you in the door, not barred from it.

Catherine Nichols is also a fairly generic name (as evidenced by the fact that you don't know if she was the same person either); unless she identified her previous books in her submittal, they would not necessarily have leapt to that conclusion.
posted by emjaybee at 5:43 PM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Somewhat reminiscent of when Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing submitted a novel under a false name to her own publisher and had it rejected.
posted by Rumple at 6:04 PM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Are you seriously saying they were less likely to look at her because they knew her? That is not how publishing works.

I'm not disagreeing with the broader point, I mean how could anyone? Bit what you've said above is not exactly true. Branding is very important in publishing, and publishers look at previous circulations, genres etc as part of that. Many authors have found themselves "stuck" because of their names and prior publishing records. In fantasy, megan lindholm / robin hobb is a great example. Her name change was driven by lack of opportunities and promo given to her by publishers who had pegged her as a low seller.
posted by smoke at 6:09 PM on August 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I considered naming my daughter something androgynous for just this reason. Of course, if enough people pick the same name, then it's RUINED! RUINED! for boys forever and will thus be identifiable as a girl's name.

As a man with just such a name, I always bristle a little when someone on the phone asks to speak with "Ms. moreradio" or something similar.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 6:09 PM on August 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tend to bristle when women get doused with discrimination, lower pay, bias, fewer and lesser economic prospects, and all the other forms sexism manifests itself in lost career opportunities just because they're women. I also bet all the women who've had to adopt a male name as an alternate writing ego just to get some recognition also bristle about that particular length they have to go to as a result of that sexism.

But you go ahead and feel the need to bristle because you get called "ms" occasionally, especially since the whole point of this article is about how men with androgynous names feel.
posted by barchan at 6:34 PM on August 4, 2015 [45 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "This is a good start. In hiring, however, you're still going to look at a school/degree, and many people who grew up low-income or middle-income didn't go to brand name schools, but might still be great at the job you are hiring for."

That's actually an interesting question. Is there any objective data on whether or not people from "brand name schools" are actually better at their jobs? I imagine they might be, since it's harder to get in, but I'd be curious to see if those candidates are actually "worth it" for employers in general.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:56 PM on August 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been planning to legally change my name for some time. Mostly, it was to get rid of my N-parent-tainted surname, and to add a meaningful middle name- but now I'm definitely going to look at gender-ambiguous first names. Because why the hell not?
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:00 PM on August 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop: "Related to the recent infamous “Writing Women Friendly Comics” panel at GenCom, with Fables author Bill Willingham going full man-splain to a disappointed/shocked/angry crowd. (I considered giving it an FPP of its own, but this is a good place for it)"

Ahahahahah, sometime, we'll go get coffee and I'll tell you my Bill Willingham story. It involves the phrase "I'm coming up there to plant babies in your belly!" Good to see Bill's behavior at cons hasn't changed since the 90s. You need constants in the universe.
posted by dejah420 at 7:05 PM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm done reading shit from white dudes.

How will you know?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:37 PM on August 4, 2015


Ralston McTodd: I considered naming my daughter something androgynous for just this reason. Of course, if enough people pick the same name, then it's RUINED! RUINED! for boys forever and will thus be identifiable as a girl's name. I'm always put in mind of the crotchety old anti-Semitic father of the protagonist's girlfriend in Joseph Heller's Good As Gold who goes on a rant about all of the venerable old names that the Jews have ruined. "You've taken a number of our very best names from us...Sidney, Irving, Harold, Morris, Seymour, Milton, Stanley, Norman — all of them noble, all of them no longer ours."

Oddly enough, the first name Heller lists, Sidney, while not particularly regarded as a Jewish name today, has been pretty much completely shifted over from being a boy's name to being a girl's name since 1990.
posted by baf at 9:00 PM on August 4, 2015


As a man with just such a name, I always bristle a little when someone on the phone asks to speak with "Ms. moreradio" or something similar.

Please tell us more about how you feel as a man in a thread about women's experience.

We are agog since there is literally no place or time in which your experiences and feelings are not relevant.
posted by winna at 9:53 PM on August 4, 2015 [21 favorites]


I just sent out a couple queries under my White Guy Name. Super stoked to see how this goes.
posted by town of cats at 9:58 PM on August 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oliver. That's my new Anti-Sexism Shield Name. Oliver. It has a bunch of letters from my legal first name, and it feels kinda' right. Plus, I don't have any friends named Oliver, so I don't feel like I'm trespassing on anyone's identity.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:09 PM on August 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd do the fake male name thing if I wasn't really sure that at this point in the Internet world, I'd get outed as a girl in about five minutes. Isn't that how they outed "Robert Galbraith" anyway? Well, that and *cough* some kind of deliberate leak.

This is the line that stands out to me: "To some degree, I was being conditioned like a lab animal against ambition."

Hooooooo boy, yeah. I never submit anything to anybody, I probably never will. I already feel like I need to be a hell of a lot better than a man just to make it onto the field, and well, I'm not completely spectacular enough to trump being obviously female. I don't have that bouncing ego of confidence to keep plugging along, convinced of my own genius, either. I'm too used to getting squashed all the time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:10 PM on August 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Some caution and is needed. I think it would be perverse if Mefi, of all places, talked itself into, effectively, promoting a new rule that no-one submits under a female name. Self-fulfilling prophecies, pre-emptive retreat, that kind of thing needs watching.
posted by Segundus at 11:24 PM on August 4, 2015


dejah420, if it's the pair of prominent married sf editors I am thinking of, then I am saddened and depressed.
posted by tavella at 12:25 AM on August 5, 2015


Are you seriously saying they were less likely to look at her because they knew her?

It could be one of several things. I dare say a well-crafted, professional pitch from a fresh new name suggets more talent than the same pitch from someone who's been in the biz for years and knows what buttons to press.

It could simply be that she's sent stuff to a lot of these agents once or twice before. In an ideal world, everything would be looked at fresh; but if someone's name is cropping up in your inbox for the third or fourth time, I'm guessing that in practice it may not get attention.
posted by Segundus at 1:05 AM on August 5, 2015


I literally heard an interview on a podcast (TBTL) today (recorded on Monday) with one of their longtime listeners (a female named Kelly) who was moving from DC to NYC to start a job working in a cancer research lab who said that when she showed up for the entrance interview and tour for a job she had been hired for, the supervisor of the lab expressed directly to her face that he wasn't expecting a woman.

Luke and Andrew, the hosts of the podcast, made a joke (in a sensitive yet dryly sarcastic way) that maybe she needs to contact the lab before she packs up her stuff to move to make sure she actually still has that job.

I was laughing out loud and seething inside at the same time.

I don't know. I wasn't raised this way. I wasn't trained from birth (well not explicitly, but certainly implicitly in this denying-it's-racist country) to regard the work that men do as more worthy of attention than the work that women do. But it's never occurred to me to even give a fuck what gender a scientist or author or musician or whatever is as long as the work I'm encountering from them is good. And when I have encountered that bias as part of my mindset, I've tried to eliminate it because it's bullshit.

Maybe being a late-40s-year-old gay male who was closeted until 1990 and then came out as super-militant helped with that? Maybe I'm truly out of step from the dominant culture?

If I am, then I hope to march long enough and with loud enough steps to maybe change a few to come into line with me.
posted by hippybear at 1:22 AM on August 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Some caution and is needed. I think it would be perverse if Mefi, of all places, talked itself into, effectively, promoting a new rule that no-one submits under a female name. Self-fulfilling prophecies, pre-emptive retreat, that kind of thing needs watching.

Welp, if you're concerned about bucking the (as-yet-rather-unformed) trend, you are more than welcome to submit all of your future literary output under a female name. Let us know how it goes!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:40 AM on August 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


On my manuscript, one of them wrote "Female coming of age stories don't read as sci-fi, even if set off-world and presumed tech. Have you considered writing romance?"

Jesus fucking Christ. Orbital Resonance by John Barnes, Building Harlequin's Moon by Brenda Cooper (also Larry Niven, but if he wrote a sentence of it then I'm the Pope, which highlights a distinct yet closely-related problem). That's just the first solid male and female-authored hard SF books about female coming of age on the tip of my tongue, without even bothering to walk over to the bookshelf.

I am incredibly sorry you encountered such an industrial-grade idiot.

If I were allowed to wish for a sci-fi story, any sci-fi story, then I'd wish for a good female coming-of-age story set in Niven's Smoke Ring featuring an intelligent antagonist whose primary motivation is something other than rape or sex with the protagonist. Wish #2 is the exact same thing except swap "coming-of-age" with "Robinson Crusoe sans White Savior ethos".
posted by Ryvar at 1:47 AM on August 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


dejah420, if it's the pair of prominent married sf editors I am thinking of, then I am saddened and depressed.

I'm sad and angry on dejah420's behalf, but I cannot say I'm surprised.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:12 AM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I was younger, I made up "generic Caucasian" names for myself for when I was going to be published as an adult. I think "Patricia Houston" (last name pronounced like the street in NYC) was the one I eventually chose, and I think I even developed a signature for it. Almost every LTR I had, I wondered if my real first name matched with theirs would be a suitable pen name.

Realizing that I should have also started picking dude names is very disheartening.
posted by TrishaLynn at 7:22 AM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


dejah420, what happens after your work submitted under a male name gets published and the publisher wants more from that pseudonym? Does the publisher eventually realise that you're a woman, or do you outright tell them? And then at that point, are you just locked into reusing the male name for future projects, regardless of whether or not you've gained a publisher's respect?
posted by picea at 7:34 AM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


God yes, Larry Niven. I was making a list of "sci-fi-ish tuff to read" the other day for a friend who wanted More Stuff, and perusing the 'best of' lists, Ringworld popped up, again.
Way back when i thought the world was a straight-forward place, I STILL knew that there was something really off about these books. In the first one, one woman was a sub-sapient baby-growing TREE, and the other was bold and go-getting and achieved her dream of being a sex slave to a Conan-clone, and -
Before I knew why lots of things made me feel a bit unhappy, I knew EXACTLY why I didn't like Niven.
And yet he sold. How he sold. How he still SELLS.

And the awareness that he, of all writers, sells, segued in my head straight into "your submissions are going to be under FirstInitial.SecondInitial. Lastname. You don't want to get pigeonholed as a tree. And when you get a solid body of work under your belt you can segue into First Name Second Initial, right?"

So, that's still a pipe dream, then?
posted by tabubilgirl at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


what happens after your work submitted under a male name gets published and the publisher wants more from that pseudonym? Does the publisher eventually realise that you're a woman, or do you outright tell them? And then at that point, are you just locked into reusing the male name for future projects, regardless of whether or not you've gained a publisher's respect?

Lemme ask my friends Acton Bell, Currer Bell, Ellis Bell, and George Eliot
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I too am now wondering if I should make up a gender-neutral pen name, and it sucks
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:58 AM on August 5, 2015


picea: "dejah420, what happens after your work submitted under a male name gets published and the publisher wants more from that pseudonym? Does the publisher eventually realise that you're a woman, or do you outright tell them? And then at that point, are you just locked into reusing the male name for future projects, regardless of whether or not you've gained a publisher's respect?"

It depends on the publisher. But I do have a legally incorporated business identity to whom checks can be written.
posted by dejah420 at 8:43 AM on August 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


But I do have a legally incorporated business identity to whom checks can be written.

Thanks, this has been my most pressing question - if you have a pen name and don't want anyone to know your real identity, how do you get paid?
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:58 AM on August 5, 2015


From the comments:

It’s sad, but not at all surprising. I’m a small business owner, and many of my suppliers are men. About a year ago I created the alias ‘Dick Berns’ to use in purchasing. Since then I’ve found that on average my orders ship 2 days faster and cost 6% less when the person on the other end of the transaction thinks that they’re dealing with a man.


Rage inducing, but best fake name ever.
posted by peep at 9:11 AM on August 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


But I do have a legally incorporated business identity to whom checks can be written.

Thanks, this has been my most pressing question - if you have a pen name and don't want anyone to know your real identity, how do you get paid?


You can operate under a business name as a sole proprietor.

When I did this (self-published, the hell if I'm going through a submission process, and yes my book's done decently), I created a website for my publishing house (business name), wrote a fake profile for my pen name, and to cover my tracks even more, described myself as her editor.

"Her" but I androgynized that via the "F.M. Last" route (First name, Middle name, Last name, I never spell out the names except on the fake website bio). Only close friends know it's actually me. It's worked well.
posted by MarionnetteFilleDeChaussette at 11:13 AM on August 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


An interesting execercise - compare the comments on this article with the comments on this previous FPP . Provides an interesting contrast of how we treat statistical claims in a Jezebel article v an actual academic paper. (Though I suspect both claims to be true.)
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:03 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Provides an interesting contrast of how we treat statistical claims in a Jezebel article v an actual academic paper.

Or more likely, how we treat claims that something does not exist vs. claims that something does. If you look at 10 umbrellas and none of them are fuschia, would you logically conclude that no fuschia umbrellas exist? Even if someone's managed to get that 0/10 observation published in an academic paper somewhere? But if someone writes an article talking about seeing a fuschia umbrella, it's decent evidence that fuschia umbrellas do exist, even if the author's only seen 10 umbrellas in their whole life, and they haven't written a scientific article about it. That evidence becomes much stronger when there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of other people all independently talking about their experiences with fuschia umbrellas. Even your friends and family might have seen one (although they might not think to mention it to you). Seeing all that evidence but continuing to insist that fuschia umbrellas don't exist because you haven't personally seen one yet would be pretty silly. Even if there are thousands of other people out there who also haven't seen one yet.

(I'm just guessing, though. I'd have to carefully compare a lot more than 2 FPPs to make any meaningful statement about why commenting patterns might be different between any two particular FPPs, and that's too much effort for me)
posted by randomnity at 12:12 PM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


While I'm not a writer, I did not even consider using my full female name when naming my business. FML consulting was my go to. If a potential client thinks I work for FML, the "actual" owner, I guess I am okay with that?
posted by natasha_k at 9:31 PM on August 10, 2015


God yes, Larry Niven. I was making a list of "sci-fi-ish tuff to read" the other day for a friend who wanted More Stuff, and perusing the 'best of' lists, Ringworld popped up, again.

The long musing the protagonist had in that book about how men and women were so different that they counted as different SPECIES (and the fact that the other two races he interacted with both had completely unintelligent mating partner/partners) made me go DO YOU EVEN SCIENCE? It amazes me that people will argue the ringworld itself wasn't viable and ignore that Niven apparently believes that sexual reproduction is "really" between different species (and apparently that genes from half of the species are... completely different... from the other half.... thus rendering them unable to speak or think...? HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK THAT MAKES NO SENSE YOU FUCK).

I got 2/3 of the way through the book by imagining both of the other creatures were actually female and the protagonist was just incredibly egotistical and ignorant (Angry Bear Amazon was kind of awesome; whiny octopus less so), but lost it when the "luck" of one of his two plot-delivered "different species" sex partners delivered her into slavery and she was happy about it.

Side-eyeing everyone who thinks that's a hard science book SO DAMN HARD. Biology is a science, yo. DO YOU EVEN SCIENCE????
posted by Deoridhe at 10:00 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


What? Known Space is totally hard SF. Apart from the FTL. And the psionics. And the genetic luck. And the reactionless thrusters. And the teleporters. And the (not-from-thrust-or-rotation) artificial gravity. And the force fields. And General Products hullmetal.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:45 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


>Apart from the FTL. And the psionics. And the

Right. That's the fiction part of science-fiction.
ST-style communicators, earpiece headsets and little squares you put into a computer to store stuff we're all NON-science... until they weren't.
posted by AGameOfMoans at 12:35 PM on August 15, 2015


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