Your compassionate, thoughtful, and informative response to the person with depression (1.6.18) inspired me to break through my fear and ask you my own questions about being agented with a mental illness, albeit a different one.
Being a writer is my passion, and becoming a published (YA) fiction author is my dream career. I also have PTSD (from childhood trauma). Though therapy has helped greatly with many of the symptoms, PTSD has also left me with a great need for privacy. While I do engage with people online (and offline in real life, of course), I don't post pictures of myself on the internet, nor do I share any personally identifiable information about myself publicly online. I don't have Facebook account, Instagram account, etc.
If I become so fortunate to get a literary agent and, eventually, a book deal:
1. Will not having an author photo be a deal-breaker? (This has nothing to do with my appearance. It's simply a matter of privacy.)
Quick answer: no
1a. Further, will avoiding certain literary events as to avoid having a photo put online be a deal-breaker?
Quick answer: no
2. Will using a pseudonym as my author name and even, perhaps, putting the copyright under that pseudonym be an issue for an agent and/or publisher?
Quick answer: no
3. I would enjoy engaging with readers of my books through goodreads, my own website, or tumblr but not twitter.
Quick answer: no problem
4. When would I tell my (future) agent about the limitations on my internet presence? During "the (initial) call" so that the agent can have a choice whether to represent me/my work based on those limitations?
Quick answer: yes
These fears/questions have been holding me back from querying and moving toward having a writing career. Again, I would love to have a career in writing, but I would also be grateful for some hope that my books are, ultimately, what would be marketed, not me. My personal life and professional life must remain separate as much as possible.
(I know I sound super stiff and formal in this email. That's not my personality at all, but these are serious questions I've been frightened to ask. Your sense of humor is one of many aspects I adore and appreciate about your blog.)
I'm glad you screwed your courage to the sticking place and asked.
I'm sorry this has held you back from querying because these questions are just ones of knowledge (how publishing works) not fear.
You can present yourself to the world with the name you choose and the image you choose. Obviously you don't want to choose "Madonna" and use a picture of The Material Girl, but I've gotten along just fine with a jpg of a shark and QOTKU.
If you want to query with a pseudonym, the time to start building a public presence under that name is NOW, rather than later. I know several writers who use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. It's not a problem.
You don't owe the world, or your readers, your life. You owe them your best work. Readers in the YA community tend to want more personal relationships with authors, but that doesn't mean you have to oblige. Your first obligation is to your sense of safety in the world. No one gets to take that from you for the price of a book.
I will encourage you to speak out as much as you can about how you dealt with trauma. For every person like you who can bring themselves to say the words, even if by asking this question, there are a dozen more out there who have never said a word, and will benefit from learning they are not alone.
Some years ago when I worked in book publicity, I escorted Truddi Chase to media appointments when she was on tour for When Rabbit Howls. I will never forget readers clustering around her, saying "I showed your book to my doctor and said 'This is me'. Until then I didn't know what was wrong with me. I didn't know anyone else felt like this."
It was a singular experience; I've never forgotten the looks on those readers faces and the intensity of their gratitude for Truddi Chase's bravery.
Do what you can and then one thing more. It is of those small steps that great journeys are created.