Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Querying T but pre-everything

I will be sending queries out soon, but I'm a trans guy pre-everything, including legal change of my female name, meaning it's going to take a while until I'm through with all of that and I don't want to wait several months with sending queries, now that the manuscript is finished.

I've read on your blog that it's okay not to mention one's "real" name in a query, but other blogs/websites/whatevs say I should definitely mention my address and "real" name at the top of the manuscript if an agent requests full.

Do I have to do that, even if I send everything per e-mail? And if I really have to, can I just mention in a post scriptum that I'm trans and want to be addressed with the male name and male pronouns?


No you don't have to do that.
The only thing you HAVE to do is write a compelling query, and a compelling novel.

And you don't need to tell me to address you as a gent. Just sign your male name and if it's a gender neutral first name you can preface it with (Mr.)

But you might mention you are trans in the bio section of your query letter if you want to. I know a lot of agents are looking for writers who are LGTBQ so this might be something that will boost your query.

As to the larger question: your real name is the one you want to use. Don't apologize, don't say "I prefer to be called" just say "Hi my name is Felix Buttonweezer"

If it doesn't say Felix Buttonweezer on your government issued ID right now, well, you don't need to show ID to query.

The ONLY time you'll need to address this is when you get down to cashing checks. The IRS is rather conservative about names and tax payer ID numbers.  At that point, you can set up an LLC (limited liability corporation company*) and apply for an EIN (the equivalent of a social security number for companies) and get paid with that name and number. PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS FOR SOME BETTER INFO ON DOING THIS!

You might want to start on that NOW since it can take a while to get that going.

Bottom line: who you are is your business. How you write and how to pay you are my primary interests.

Speaking of post scripts here's mine:  Best wishes to you on this very challenging journey you're undertaking.



*Thanks Dena!

33 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OP, jeez, you finished a book, you're ready to query, fantastic, congrats.
I ditto Janet's PS.
May your journey (personal and in publishing) be free of obstruction.

DLM said...

"You don't need to show ID to query." This makes my day! Of all the things OP will have to face, this need not be one of them; and by the time it's check-cashing time, hopefully there is a supportive relationship with an agent (and publisher) who'll make the process easy, as that's good for them too business-wise! And because they are wonderful and decent too, of course.

Cheers, and here's hoping you will have to cash some checks, OP!

Amy Schaefer said...

If you haven't chosen your new name yet, you could always sign your query: "F. Buttonweezer."

And best of luck to you, with querying and beyond, OP.

french sojourn said...


Well you just finished one journey in writing a book, congrats. Good luck with your second journey, be strong.

Cheers Hank

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Good luck, OP. Just take it one step at a time. Query and see where that takes you. Good luck in the trenches.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Good luck, OP! And I hope your journey goes smoothly and you feel loved and supported every step of the way. Sure, querying takes courage, but it takes a lot more courage to be true to who you really are.

Claire AB. said...

All good wishes, OP. I'm rooting for you as you embark on both of your journeys!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Opie: Wow. Congrats on having finished your novel. And best of wishes to you in your personal journey.

Janet: you have an extra eye in EIN (the equiviilent).

Sherry Howard said...

Congrats to OP on making a huge decision, and arriving at the QUERY stage. (My autocorrect did that to query, and it seemed appropriate.)

I'd love to know more about having an LLC as a writer if anyone has any experience with that.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations on finishing the book, that's huge. Good luck with the querying and your new life. It will be an exciting and daunting journey, but you have support.

C. L. McCollum said...

I just wanted to come out of Lurkdom to say BEST OF LUCK OP!!!!

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Congratulations, OP, on the completion of your ms. And all the very best to you on querying as well as the life journey ahead.

OT (sorta) but I thought you all might find this interesting: I have a friend here visiting from Boston. She's the traditionally published author of three novels. The first two were published by a smaller house without an agent. She decided she wanted representation for her third novel and began querying. She's now under contract with a top tier agent who sold her ms to Algonquin. The release is this coming fall. Start to finish for this third book - from writing the ms, editing/revising, querying/securing an agent, more revisions based on suggestions from the agent, selling to a publisher, MORE revisions based on suggestions from the editor, then final edits and FINALLY publication - *drum roll* SEVEN YEARS.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats with being query-ready, Opie! All the best in the trenches. :)

BTW, I have updated the "Questions to Ask a Prospective Agent" pdf in the Treasure Chest with information from yesterday's article.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Excellent question. Excellent response.

Susan said...

Is it necessary to have an LLC, or is a sole-proprietorship with a DBA sufficient? I ask because I have a DBA through which I publish and am paid for writing, and it meets the need. I can see the LLC being suitable in OP's case because of the name being attached to a sole-proprietorship (and thus changed), but I'm curious in how it's handled (if at all) for other writers.

Bethany: Welcome back! So sorry you had to experience complications, but glad to see you're on the mend.

OP: Wishing you the very best on both of your journeys. Janet and Bethany put it beautifully in their wishes to you, so I'll just say that I share their sentiments.

Beth said...

Interesting. I always though of LLCs (limited liability corporations) as a way to, well, limit liability, but I see this would be useful for anyone wishing to conceal identity or in transition, or perhaps books written by partners.

Best of luck, OP.

BJ Muntain said...

As Janet said, who you are is your business. Many people query with pseudonyms. I don't see why you shouldn't query with your new name, even if it's not legal yet.

As for putting your 'real' name at the top of a manuscript - that's true for pseudonyms, though not absolutely necessary. It's just because that will normally be how you get paid. As Janet also said, that's rather important. And it's kind of frowned upon by banks and the legal establishment to cash cheques that aren't made in the name on the account.

We don't have LLCs in Canada, by the way. Not called as such, anyway. I don't know business law so I don't know if we have something similar. But I think a DBA (does business as) is enough. It's also less paperwork. But again, I don't know business law, and especially not American business law.

John Davis Frain said...

Wouldn't it be cool if it turned out the world has been waiting for you with open arms! Get that ms out there, OP, so you can start greeting those people at book signings.

Claire Bobrow said...

Best wishes on your journey, OP, and thanks for posting. May the waters be warm and the currents ever in your favor!

Melanie: your friend's story has me thinking I need to go in search of the Sorcerer's Stone. It's gonna be awhile...

Dena Pawling said...


Just as a matter of clarification, a LLC is a limited liability COMPANY, not corporation. Each state has its own laws regarding the formation and status, and the IRS has its own regulations too. If you want to establish an LLC for your writing income, best to do your research and/or consult an attorney or tax advisor.

End of PSA.

Beth said...

Yes, company. Thanks, Dena. Not enough caffeine yet, obviously.

Kate Larkindale said...

Good luck, OP!

Lennon Faris said...

Good info, thanks Janet.

OP, I've been querying with a pen name. So far no one's whisked me away to jail. I did plan on creating the LLC once I got an agent... so that is good to know I need to start now! Sometimes I can't tell what is 'cart before the horse' and what is just good common sense.

Colin Smith said...

Lennon: That old horse-and-cart thing. Even without using a pen name (yup, this is my real name--you're shocked, I can tell), I wonder if I should set up some kind of LLC or something for my writing income, even though my writing income doesn't even amount to kale chips...? Okay, I'll add "yet"--though my short story submissions have so far generated nothing but silence. Not very encouraging. Okay, so I'm being impatient. But still.

(For those who don't know, "but still" is a popular British phrase that translates roughly to: "I really have no logical, reasonable come back to that, but I will nevertheless stick to my original statement just because I want to.)

Lennon Faris said...

OK, "Colin Smith" (psh, yeah right :) I think most writers just get paid directly. The LLC is just so that publishing companies have a legal name to write your checks to, should you wish to be addressed by a name other than your legal one. BTW, for sure say "YET!"

Gin said...

You don't need an LLC to use a business name that the IRS will recognize. (Not giving individual legal/tax advice, just general information here.)

Before doing something as potentially expensive (and potentially unnecessary) as creating an LLC, with all its paperwork and possible costs (there's a substantial annual fee in my state, but it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction), talk to a qualified professional (lawyer and/or CPA) in your jurisdiction. There may well be much simpler ways to get a name that the IRS will recognize, like filing a d/b/a certificate if they're recognized by your jurisdiction, or even just attaching an explanatory note to your income tax return.

Again, not giving legal advice or tax advice, other than to seek qualified professional advice.

Donnaeve said...

Congratulations OP, on completing a novel. It's a big accomplishment!

Also, I wish you the best in your personal journey, like many others already have.

As to that tax stuff, I was advised to set myself up as a "Individual Sole Proprieter." This makes the most sense to me. The description in Wiki states, "A sole proprietorship, also known as the sole trader or simply a proprietorship, is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one natural person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business.

Biggest diff between LLC and ISP is related to just what the name LLC means - limited liability. Whereas with ISP, if debts pertaining to the business are not met, creditors can come for personal assets. But, that's a stretch - for me anyway. There would be no "business debt" I can imagine that I can't satisfy - meaning I'm not caught up in big investments or anything risky. Except my writing. That could be risky. And mentioning the unmentionables.

Donnaeve said...

[Start of PSA]

Oh!

And one more thing...Ms. Janet if you want to send me to Pluto instead of Carkoon for this, I'll understand.

First I wanted to share this interview with y'all I did for Bloom, an online site that celebrates/shares about authors who've found publication after 40. Sheesh. That's young.

Bloom Interview Here

Also, as some (???) of you know, I have a redesigned website, but it's been a bit of a bugaboo to get working right. If you've tried to leave comments and couldn't? Something was changed today...it's been slow going but I think it's fixed. now.

[End of PSA]

Colin Smith said...

These definitions crack me up. ...owned and run by one natural person... As opposed to an unnatural person? I suppose if you've been to Carkoon, you'd realize the necessity of such language... :)

AJ Blythe said...

OP, good luck with all the challenges ahead, both in the query trenches and with following who you are.

My eldest has a classmate who is going through the same thing. Last year she attended school as a girl, but over our summer holidays (which finish this weekend!) started transitioning and will be returning to school next week with his new identity. My son and his mates all have the attitude, that's just who he is - they're more concerned about remembering to use his new name. I hope the people around you are as equally understanding.

Back to author payments... If you’re not a resident of the USA, but you receive money via a US distributor or publisher, your US earnings are subject to the default 30% withholding by the IRS. In Australia and New Zealand you can apply for a reduction under the reciprocal tax treaty that Oz and NZ has with the US. This treaty provides for reduced withholding (5%).

It appears that under new W-8BEN forms released in 2015, Australians are now able to use their Australian Tax File Number and do NOT need an ITIN or EIN. I know that's the case for self-pubbed (Amazon accept TFN apparently), but not sure if publishers still require ITINs? Guess I'll learn more when I am published.

Colin, thanks for being our fabulous toolbox manager.

Melanie, good on your friend for their perseverance, but, man'o'man, seven years! Enough to make me weep into my bowl of cornflakes.



Theresa said...

OP: Congratulations! Exciting times. Gin's advice about consulting a professional (lawyer or CPA) is also very good.

Donna: Your new website is lovely.

Melanie: Seven years! But that's a big payoff for your friend--a contract with Algonquin!

Bethany: Welcome back. I hope you continue to make progress with your recuperation.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Thanks for the Aussie info, AJ.

I'm a dual citizen, internationally published. I've got an Australian Business Number (ABN) - sole proprietor, a tax file number (TFN) and also have a US SSN.

What really sucks is that as a dual citizen I have to file both AU and US tax paperwork.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Christina Mercer, an author and CPA, wrote a book Bean Counting for Authors that gives an excellent rundown of business structure. I've also seen her give a talk on this, and she knows her stuff!

Full disclosure, we are friends--but I'd recommend her book anyway. It's genuinely answered nearly all of the questions I've had about taxes and running my writing as if it is a business (as it should be).

If you Google "Christina Mercer business structure," the pertinent section of the book does come up--but I hope that if you've found it helpful, you then go and check out her books. She's got a great, magical tween series in addition to this accounting book!