I am writing a book of short stories. I am planning to self-publish the stories as an e-book but would like to keep my anonymity - I will use a pseudonym.

Obviously, I would like to sell the e-book and wondered how I would be paid - would I have to set up a company and be paid through this in order to be anonymous or do I just set up a bank account in a different name?

If anyone can help me I would be most grateful.

  • 8
    Setting a bank account in a different name may trigger money laundering investigation. You REALLY don't want that headache.
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 17:20
  • What level of anonymity do you need? Do you just want to hide it from your readers? Or from the publisher? From the bank? From the police? Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    You ought to specify your country since you are asking about law, forms of business, and banking practices, which vary based on where you are located. Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 18:48
  • Selling books from a hosted site (e.g. Wordpress) with payment to a PayPal account (or similar) may work, assuming the service providers manage to keep your identity bottled.
    – Raphael
    Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 21:59
  • Are these fictional stories that would trigger hysterical law enforcement? Try using Smashwords and a Paypal account linked to the Smashwords account. See if there is any help about pseudonyms on smashwords.com.
    – Bulrush
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:34

7 Answers 7


If your work is going to be successful enough to make it cost effective to set up all the legal niceties of staying hidden. There is no possible way to guarantee you will keep your anonymity. The recent article JK Rowling lawyer fined over Robert Galbraith leak(BBC 2 January 2014) is but one example of failure.

If you are already an established author, your risk of exposure increases.

If you are not already an established author, your potential for recouping expenses is doubtful at best.

If anonymity is a significant concern, do not publish.

If anonymity is passing concern, then money is probably not a significant concern. Publish all your works for free, or direct all incoming funds to a charitable concern without ever coming to you.

There is no anonymity on the internet, there is only presence or lack of common knowledge (assuming anyone cares enough to look). As of this minute there are 277,316 published works on Smashwords Many of them published with pseudonyms. The majority of them make such a little splash, that no one is drawn to search out the authors. But if the right people, care enough to look hard enough, there no possibility of sure anonymity.


Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to create an author account where you publish and manage your e-books through Amazon. You have to provide your real name and social security number as well as bank account information so that they can pay you and also so they can report your earnings. However, you do not have to use your real name on any of the titles that you publish through them. They allow you to provide any name you want for the author, and you are not required to provide a publisher's name. If you want, you can tie your author account to your titles, but it is not required. I currently have over thirty titles published with them using my own name and three different pseudonyms.

I have only recently started using B&N's Nook Press, but it appears that they provide the same capability. I currently have twelve titles published through them using two different pseudonyms. My account is registered in my real name, but the books I have published through them do not have my real name tied to them.

Smashwords, on the other hand, is not nearly as friendly. If you want to keep your identity separated with them, you will need to create a separate account for each one of your pseudonyms. I currently have only my real name and one pseudonym distributed through them. I am looking at other options that I may use in the future to replace them.

As mentioned in one of the other answers, there is no hard and fast guarantee that you will be able to remain 100% anonymous, but it is possible to publish under a different name and still get paid using your real name and current bank accounts.


If you sell the book via Amazon, I thought that they do not expose your real name.


Use a lawyer. A power of attorney allows another person to act on your behalf. He can then collect the money on your behalf. There are of course many details which vary from place to place.


Amazon isn't viable, because if you release controversial writings, they still need your bank account, it doesn't matter if you can use a pseudonym.

Paypal may work for a certain amount of time, but if certain people want that information, they can also get it.


If you create a company you will have to be listed as a director so your anonymity will go. The usual way to handle this is to use a literary agent who handles all of the negotiations for you, for a percentage. With no publication history you are unlikely to persuade an agent to take you on. You can create an online account as your pseudonym. When it comes to taking money out from that account you should be able to pay it into any account you choose.

Whatever you do as soon as you are ready to take money out of the business talk to an accountant about tax and paperwork. If you have a local one they will probably give you some free advice to get you started.

Don't expect to make your fortune. Very few fiction authors make enough to live on. Don't give up the day-job,


The problem comes from the IRS's need to collect income tax from your book sales, and from the government's need to prevent crooks from laundering dirty money (and avoiding taxes). As a result, Amazon (and most companies) are going to insist on your Social Security number so they can report your earnings to the IRS. So, although you can put a pseudonym on the book, so readers don't know who you are, ultimately the information is out there. If nothing else, the IRS will know that you're earning money by selling books on Amazon (or wherever). And if they want to dig deeper, I'm sure Amazon would give them a list of the titles they're paying you for. But unless what you're writing is illegal (e,g. kiddie porn), odds are they won't bother to dig. And from a practical standpoint, unless you have a detective investigating you, odds are your identity would be relatively safe. But the fact that the info does exist (at both the IRS and in Amazon records) means you can never truly be 100% certain that you won't be "outed".

  • This is a very US centric answer. I don't see where it offers anything nor already present in one of the existing answers. Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 15:18

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