Hello! I was hoping you could address something in your blog. Cart before the horse, I know...but I've really been agonizing over it the closer I am to querying.
I am in law enforcement and have written a story that is set at my own department in a large, metropolitan city. Despite the size of the department, I am fairly well-known among the chain of command and am easily identifiable as an employee. The City is very concerned with how we promote ourselves privately, such as on social media, and some can't identify as members of the department while others are on national TV shows with their blessing. I expect The City would be very critical (or unsupportive) of a current employee writing even a fictional story set here, especially since it doesn't show city in the most favorable light (think: an apathetic response to uncovered corruption). I can't afford to quit my job, but this is my dream and I really believe in this story, so I am considering a pen name (which I don't want). My specific questions are:
Does the threat of having to use a pen name make a writer less appealing to an agent or publisher because she might not be able to promote the work as openly?
How would one properly promote the work through a social media platform while trying to remain on the down low for job purposes? It seems like any decent amount of promotion would out the writer anyway.
A pen name isn't a problem.
For promotion, you create a new identity and use it to promote.
Lots of writer do this.
And this is a big however.
If you're using a pen name so people won't know who you are, trust me, someone will find out.
And they'll spill the beans.
Even one of the most closely held pen names I can think of (Robert Galbraith) was revealed due to someone whispering the secret to make themselves look like an insider.
I can't tell you the number of people who've sidled up to me to say they know Lee Child's "real name".
As if I cared at all.
But you DO care because your job is on the line.
You need to talk to an employment attorney first, and maybe your union if you're unionized.
Whether they can fire you from your job for writing this is one thing;
they can certainly make your life miserable if they choose.
AND if you haven't planned for this, it will happen at the Worst Possible Time, because that's the only time this kind of thing happens.
The last thing you want is to be blindsided AND unprepared.
It's not a problem on my end for you to use a pen name.
It's not a problem to promote.
Consider how much you're willing to risk on your end.