Category Archives: Web Safety Tips For Writers

Your Secret Identity: 7 Ways To Safeguard Your Author Pen Name Online | Web Design Relief

Perhaps you’re a science fiction writer who also enjoys penning lighthearted chick lit, or a serious academic striving for university tenure who happens to spend summers plotting thrilling potboilers. To keep your worlds from colliding, you’d probably use a pen name. But aside from donning a pair of Clark Kent eyeglasses, how can you ensure your true identity will remain a secret?

Web Design Relief Explains Seven Ways To Keep Your Secret Identity Safe

Get A New Email

It seems so simple, but many people slip up and use their personal email when signing up for websites, copyright registration, etc., inadvertently revealing their true identity. Make sure the email you use for all your writing business represents your pen name.

Set Up Separate Social Media Profiles

You may already have an Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter account in your own name, but if you post anything about your literary accomplishments, then the jig is up. Instead, set up separate social media accounts in your pen name that are completely independent of your personal ones. As a further safeguard, make sure not to “friend” yourself or otherwise link your pen name accounts with your personal ones.

Purge Personal Photos 

On your author website, bio, and social media accounts, avoid using any photo that shows your face. A simple Google image search or a face recognition app could connect your author persona to your real identity. Many writers who use pseudonyms opt for a distant or obscured photo or their book cover as an option.

Soft-Focus Your Bio 

It goes without saying that you can’t list the date you graduated from your alma mater or your current workplace in your pen name bio. You’ll have to be vague about the details and tell your life story in soft-focus. But don’t get carried away and start making things up or claiming credentials you don’t have. If and when that information comes out, you’ll be discredited.

Consider Copyright Issues 

If you copyright your books using your legal name, then your true identity will be revealed within the first few pages of your book, right in the copyright clause. So much for anonymity!

However, if you copyright using your nom de plume (leaving your legal name off the copyright form), the length of copyright protection may be shorter. Also, without legal backup, it can become more difficult to prove you’re the owner should a claim arise in the future.

Check Out DBAs And FBNs

If you’re serious about separating your legal identity from your nom de plume, you may want to talk to a lawyer in your state or municipality about setting up a corporation or a limited liability company. You can then do business through that corporation, though you’ll still have to use your legal name for signing publishing contracts.

If you intend to receive payments, do any kind of banking, or get a credit card under your pen name, some states require that you fill out a “Doing Business As” or “Fictitious Business Name” form. With this in hand, you can register your domain name for your website, thus keeping the information about your identity masked from the publicly searchable domain name registry.

Limit Public Appearances

Keep in mind that even if you’re attending a conference far, far away from your hometown or office, it’s always possible you’ll bump into a colleague or old friend. You’ll also have to avoid being photographed, because there’s a risk those pictures will be posted on your fans’ social media pages. For every public appearance, weigh the risks and rewards carefully.

Though it’s not easy to hide your author persona in a world of rampant online interconnectivity, writers who are scrupulously careful about keeping their personal life separate from their writing life can continue publishing in happy anonymity.

 

QUESTION: Do you think pseudonyms are a good or bad idea for authors?

5 Biographical Elements NOT To Include On Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

Whether you’re a New York Times Best Seller or a new writer ready to self-publish your first book, the moment your author website goes live—you’re a public figure. Your readers will want to get to know you better, and you’ll be eager to tell them your life story. But along with true fans and interested literary editors and agents, Web Design Relief knows you’ll also get visits to your author website from scammers. So how do you share your personal journey while maintaining your privacy and not putting yourself at risk?

Five Biographical Elements NOT To Include On Your Author Website

Legal Name

Between social media and online databases, you’ve already shared a huge amount of personal information with the world. An online search of your name will quickly bring up social media pics, information about the trips you’ve taken, the houses you’ve bought, the cross-country moves you’ve made, and maybe even the funerals you’ve attended. So you might want to consider using a pen name to protect your privacy and identity.

But if your legal name is already established as your author name, you can still protect yourself and your identity from those who want to do you harm.

One way is to obtain domain privacy protection for your website. When you registered for your URL, you were required to input your real name, address, and phone number. That information is publicly available in a database run by WHOIS, the overarching organization that manages domain registration. Domain privacy protection allows you to mask your personal information from the public, adding an additional level of privacy.

Home Address

If Google Analytics states you have only a dozen visitors a day, you might think that it’s okay to include your hometown or your home address in your biography. But if your next book takes off like a rocket, the number of visitors to your website will also increase—and most will be strangers.

If you feel you must include an address on your website, don’t use your home address. Instead, get a locked post office box in another municipality. Better to make a few quick trips a week than risk finding a stalker at your door.

Email Info

It would seem to be a no-brainer to include an email on your website so fans, editors, or agents can contact you, but scammers troll websites in order to deluge them with spam. Some of those spam emails may be infected with viruses and other malware that can steal your personal info and do real damage to your computer.

Instead of offering up your email address, use a contact form page on your author website which masks your email. Then, to ensure you’re dealing with humans, use CAPTCHA codes to ward off dangerous bots.

Identifying Information

While you’re telling stories about your wild and colorful family in your author bio, make sure you’re not spilling more information than you should. These days, many banks and credit cards require that you answer personal questions if you forget your log-in information. If you’re giving away some of that information publicly, you’re setting yourself up as an easy target.

Common identifying information can include:

  • birthplace
  • birth date
  • mother’s maiden name
  • high school where you graduated
  • name of your first pet
  • name of your first car
  • name of the street you grew up on
  • place where you met your spouse

Combined with your legal name, this information can be used to steal your money and your identity.

Personal Social Media Pages

For safety and privacy purposes, it’s always smarter to keep your personal social media accounts separate from your writer social media accounts. Setting up a Facebook author page and a separate author Twitter handle allows you to continue posting personal communications on your personal profiles while you cultivate a following on your author platform. Make sure to link only to your author profiles on your website.

Be mindful of what you share on all your social media pages. Scrub them so that your high school, birth date, current address, etc., aren’t available publicly. And watch what you post: Don’t use geolocation services for pics taken in and around your hometown. Periodically check your privacy settings to make sure you know with whom you’re sharing your personal data.

 

Question: If you have a pen name, why did you decide to use one, and how did you choose it?

Strategies To Keep Your Author Website Safe (For Yourself And Your Visitors) | Web Design Relief

When building your author website, you’ll carefully select your theme, typeface, and color scheme. As a writer, you’ll agonize over every sentence. But, while the creative elements of a website may be well in hand, many writers are not as savvy about the technical security aspects of smart web design.

If your author website isn’t protected and secure, it can be dangerous—not just for you, but for anyone who visits your website. Web Design Relief presents the 411 on website security issues.

How Your Author Website Gets Hacked

An author website is basically made of files stored somewhere in the world on a computer. That computer then publishes those files for everyone to see in the form of a website. But, for any computer connected to the Internet, skilled hackers can gain access and control over the files inside your website. They can then upload their own nasty files and redirect your website to scam other websites—damaging your website’s credibility.

At this point, your website’s host company will take action. Many hosting companies do not claim responsibility for the files you host. So when they realize your site’s been compromised because the files are deemed inappropriate or potentially dangerous, the hosting company can—and will—end your service contract. You’ll lose access to your website and possibly all of your files stored on their servers.

Until the security breach is fixed, your website will be deemed unsafe. Your host company will freeze your account and unpublish your website.

Ways To Keep Your Author Website Secure

Strong password protection. Make sure your website has strong password protection. This includes the login information with your webhost.

Quality web hosting. Confirm your webhost is providing a firewall for your server that will help mitigate the typical hacker attacks.

At Web Design Relief we recommend running your website on WordPress, which has an amazing Content Management System.

Smart security plugins. Having the right plugins in place will help fight hacker attacks. At the very least, a good plugin will notify you about attacks on your website. Using plugins such as Wordfence Security and Anti-Malware will safeguard both you and your visitors.

Up-to-date software. Check that your website is always running the latest software releases. Keeping your author website current is one of the services offered in our Web Design Relief Hosting Care Package.

Secure contact form. You want to have a way for your website visitors to contact you. Rather than listing your personal email on your website, use a contact form. This will protect you from spam and dangerous phishing attempts on your personal information.

One way to weed out spam is to use CAPTCHA on your website’s contact form. This tool will protect you against thousands of spam attacks, which could debilitate your email inbox in minutes.

A New Day…A New Spam Attack—And What To Do About It

Unfortunately, new and unpredictable ways of breaking your website security are constantly being developed by hackers. No website is 100% immune to attack.

But if you remain vigilant and informed, you have a better chance of staying a step ahead of hackers who want to hijack your author website.

If you want to put your website security into the hands of caring tech experts who understand the unique needs of writers, Web Design Relief can help. We host the websites we create for our clients and take full responsibility for the safety and protection for the sites under our care.

We take your website’s safety seriously and are up to date with the most recent security techniques. Schedule a free consultation with our experts today!

 

Question: What are some of the ways you protect your website?

How To Create Backups Of Your Author Website If Your Web Host Doesn’t

Like the savvy writer you are, you have your author platform running like clockwork. Then one day, you check your email and find that the host for your author website has contacted you—and it’s bad news. Your website has been taken down because it’s been hacked. Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s becoming more and… Continue Reading

Socially Acceptable Grandstanding: 7 Tips For Talking About Yourself On Social Media

These days, many traditional publishing contracts include clauses that require an author to have a social media presence for the purpose of marketing and promotion. An author hoping to use social media to sell books might think the best way to go about this is to incessantly blast Buy! Buy! Buy! on every social media platform. Yet… Continue Reading

Essential Vacation Safety Tips For Your Social Media (And More!)

You’re so excited about your upcoming vacation that you can hardly contain yourself! Finally, you’ll be the writer posting photos of umbrella drinks and tweeting about glorious sunsets, or blogging on your website about amazing Mayan ruins. Authors are always in search of new content for marketing and promotion: What better way to captivate your… Continue Reading


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