how do I get coworkers to stop printing things for me, old job still lists me as an employee, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. I accidentally used a very crude expression with my new boss

I’m mortified.

I (cis man, he/him) returned from parental leave a couple weeks ago to find out I had a new boss. I’ve connected well with the new boss and think I will really enjoy working together — she is already empowering me to own things the previous boss never did, plus she has a unique background for my field and I am already learning a ton just from being around her at work.

Today, in a conversation with my boss, I used the wrong colloquial expression;.I meant to say that we couldn’t keep milking that cow forever, but I accidentally said that we couldn’t keep stroking that goat forever. My boss reacted visibly in the moment with a loud and uncomfortable laugh (which is the only reason I noticed my error) and we moved on, wrapped up our conversation normally, etc.

Later I googled “stroking the goat” (PS don’t do this at work) and learned the expression has only one definition, which is quite crude. I feel awful for likely making my boss uncomfortable (based on her laugh in the moment), and I’m concerned this incident will make her question my judgment and professionalism — both of which are critical for me to be effective in my role — and feel the need to manage me more heavily.

I’m debating if I should address the gaffe with her by apologizing, indicating that was not the expression I meant to use and I wasn’t aware of its crude meaning until I googled it after noting her reaction, or if I should instead just hope the incident will pass by and not acknowledge my awareness of the inappropriateness of how I behaved at work. Any advice on how I can humbly recover from this, demonstrate maturity and professionalism, and correct my boss’s perception of me?

Oh no! You should indeed go back and say something so she’s not left thinking that you have the sort of judgment where you would intentionally and cavalierly make a filthy reference to your brand new boss. The conversation might be awkward, but it’s preferable to leaving her with that impression (and if it makes you feel any better, she will probably be relieved to hear it!).

I would say it like this: “I am mortified by something I said to you in our meeting the other day — I thought I was using a colloquial expression meaning that we couldn’t keep doing X (fill in with what you thought you were saying) but realized later that what I said had a very crude slang meaning! I would never intentionally say that at work and didn’t want to leave you thinking I would.”

That will almost certainly take care of it. Also, it might make you feel better to read some of the posts from last year’s Mortification Week.

2. How do I get my coworkers to stop printing things out for me?

I need a script to use with my coworkers who have a habit of printing off things for me that I do not need. I will almost always search my electronic notes for information rather than sift through a pile of papers. If it was just occasionally, I’d probably bite my tongue but I’m getting 2-3 pieces of paper a day!

If I toss it and then we need the info and I look it up on my computer rather than on the paper they printed previously, they print it again!

I’ve already used: “Thanks for this but I have it electronically and prefer storing this type of information on my computer rather than on paper.” And even “I have so many notes I need, I try not to kill all the trees! No need to print me a copy, thanks!” Nothing has worked. Help!

I think your scripts so far have been too long — try just going with, “I don’t use paper, please don’t print copies for me, thanks!”

That said, some people cannot conceive of not printing things out, so you might never fully win the battle. If you want to add additional effort, you could make the request of people not when they’re about to hand you a piece of paper, but totally separately, like: “I wanted to mention to you — please don’t print things for me. I really only use electronic files, so it’s wasted on me.” Even, then, though, people won’t always remember the individual preferences of everyone they work with so you might never fully stamp it out (unless you’re their boss, in which case you can require it).

3. My old job still lists me as an employee on their website

I worked at a small nonprofit for about one year. The organization is very much run by the president and once my direct supervisor quit due the president’s overbearing and erratic leadership, I knew I would have little protection. Things grew more volatile, so a month later I quit and the president was happy to have me quit to find people who “were actually devoted to the mission.” This was six months ago. Despite all the tension, I think I was able to leave on a good note or at least on a quiet note.

I have a new job as of three months ago and I noticed the old president had looked me up on LinkedIn. I happened to glance at my old job’s website and my picture, bio, and position is still listed on their team page (as well as my old supervisor and coworkers who quit)! I’ve now checked back every few weeks and the info has still not been taken down. As the nonprofit is always looking for donors or grants, I feel like it is disingenuous on the president’s part. I know from experience she dictates the website and added new staff to it since I’ve left. On a personal note, after all she put me through, I dislike that she is trying to pretend like turnover of staff isn’t that high (I found out she’s had two deputy directors start and quit within the past six months I’ve been gone, but didn’t add their photos to the site). I just want to not be associated with the organization any more in this public way.

Would it be okay for me to send a message asking her to take down my information? And how can I word that message in a way that is concise and effective?

Yes. And that would be fine even if you didn’t think she had left you up for underhanded reasons; it’s perfectly reasonable not to want to be represented as working somewhere you left six months ago, even if it were a completely innocent oversight.

You could say it this way: “Hi, Wilhelmina. I hope you and the Cinnamon Toast Alliance are doing well. I noticed that I’m still listed as an employee on the website and wanted to ask that you take me down so there’s no confusion about where I work. Thank you, and all the best to everyone there.”

That will probably work, but the more interesting question might be what to do if it doesn’t! At that point you could send your request to whoever there manages the website in the hopes that they’ll quietly fix it themselves or at least put pressure on her. If that doesn’t do it, your options get pretty limited; you could have a lawyer send a stern letter on your behalf, for example, but that’s likely more trouble to pursue than it’s worth.

4. Writing erotic fiction when you work with kids in your day job

I recently have come across the idea of writing and selling erotic fiction. Apparently, it’s the highest selling genre on digital platforms like kindle for Amazon and the passive income builds up. I’d like to supplement my meager income from my 9-5 and prepare to transition from my current field, which I fell into, to my desired field (writing/more creative pursuits). However, I’m not sure if this is a good idea considering I work with children (think a clinic setting but providing a direct support service). I’d use a pen name but I’m still worried about it. Would you err on the side of caution here and just not do it?

If you use a pen name and are careful about never discussing it with anyone who has a connection to your day job, I’d say the risk is very low. Don’t underestimate the importance of that second factor though; make sure you don’t slip up and mention it to someone who could mention it to someone else.

That said, people are really weird about the private lives of adults who work with kids. So if any readers who work with kids want to present a different viewpoint in the comments, please do!

{ 427 comments… read them below }

  1. Babyfaced Crone*

    LW #4, as a parent of small children, I can say that if I ever found out about your side gig, you’d need to be writing about something pretty far out of the mainstream for me to worry about it.

    1. Mm*

      Yea. I do think they type of erotic fiction matters here. I have seen advice that you find a “niche” on this sort of thing to standout on Amazon – so I would caution not going to wild with that just to stand out.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        I do think there’s a risk-reward here, as in all things. But honestly, people are weird enough about this that she’s likely to be fired if caught with generic Harlequin fodder.

        FWIW, I’m not in the business, but I have several high-school friends that write for a living. They pay the bills with custom-written smut. Amazon can be a side income, but unless you’re both lucky and good, it’s not a living wage. Custom is where the money is, but it’s genuinely sex work, even if you get to keep your pants on. The customer comes to you because there’s an itch that can’t be scratched by mainstream smut, and it becomes your job to make Rule #34 a reality. They report being stalked or otherwise boundary-violated by clients, such that they keep to paranoia-level anonymity practices for their own safety. But…living wage. One of them apparently makes well into the six figures, as the go-to person for [a scenario that I’m not going to put onto your work computer, you’re welcome].

        1. Felis alwayshungryis*

          Well, that’s a career path I’d never heard of before, and now I need brain bleach from thinking of all the things people might want written. The more you know, the less you wish you did.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Too true. A friend of mine writes customized material and told me about some of her requested storylines. I’m pretty creative, but after a few minutes? ‘Okayokayokayokayokay! NO MORE!’

            One story was especially jarring and I…um…gah.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            The part about knowledge bringing power ought to have the caveat “and periodic nightmares/revulsion”

          3. Sloanicote*

            Now see I think that’s a bit more risky for OP because presumably she’d be developing a more personal relationship with these clients which leads to an increased chance of her identity getting out. Writing anonymously for a wide audience seems quite low risk; becoming a one-on-one writer seems higher.

      2. Iwritesmut*

        I write erotic fiction and I work with kids, and I think it kind of depends. How much are you working one-on-one with a particular kid? My job has me working with different kids every day, rarely with one kid more than a few times in a month. I think there’s a protective effect there. If I was working with one kid all day every day it would be more likely that a parent would go looking for information on me and maybe have an issue. How old are the kids you work with? I work with little kids (k-4). Googling their teachers hasn’t really occurred to them. Middle schoolers and high schoolers? They will definitely look you up and if they find anything interesting will ABSOLUTELY share it. And that point about never discussing it at work is important. I have never told anybody at work even though I’ve received a little acclaim (I’ve been positively reviewed in a few major publications). It’s temping to tell your coworkers exciting news, but you gotta resist. Also, how much can you count on your bosses to protect you? I love in a pretty liberal part of the country and my job is hard to hire for. If my “secret” ever came out, I’m pretty sure my bosses would defend me for at least a while, though probably not for ever. This isn’t true for everybody. I know some writers who’ve lost jobs over it.

        But also, even though erotic fiction is the highest selling genre, it’s still hard and lots of people don’t actually make much money doing it. You’ve got to WANT to do it, because you’re going to spend A LOT of time trying to get reviews and trying to connect with readers and other writers on social media. You can’t just put a story up on Amazon and wait for the $$$. So, before you try it, make sure you want it.

        1. Evelyn Carnahan*

          Yes this! Writing is hard, takes a long time, and you have to be willing to dedicate yourself to it. Plus, erotica is the highest selling genre on Amazon because there’s a lot of it. Not everyone is Chuck Tingle, and it can be hard to make money in such a crowded field if this is just a side hustle kind of idea.

          To the working with kids point, I think the age group matters but so does the workplace. Teachers have been fired for having a drink in their hand in a tagged photo on Facebook. I don’t think this is such a big concern for people who work with PK-12 aged kids outside of school settings, so LW4 might have a little more freedom there.

          1. Free Meerkats*

            Chuck Tingle is an excellent example for keeping your real identity secret. He exists, we all know he exists, but he’s a figment of our collective imagination. And he’s become successful without being outed (so far.)

            I still have a con badge ribbon that says, “I AM CHUCK TINGLE.”

            And I am, so far, the only recipient of the Chuck Tingle Award for Humor.

          2. Ray Gillette*

            Even the great Chuck Tingle serves as a important example – he’s only able to make a living wage at his writing because the kerfuffle with the Hugos made him famous. Prior to that, he was unknown and living on disability.

            1. Jasper*

              Not sure that’s entirely true. He was getting pretty well known *before* the Hugos. Possibly not yet quit-your-day-job well known, but he was getting there, and would not have needed the Puppies to succeed in the long run.

              1. Sasha*

                “Prior to that, he was unknown and living on disability”

                That sounds like part of the persona honestly. I’m sure the books weren’t making millions, but Chuck Tingle is as likely to be a group of grad students or somebody working in Ikea as they are an elderly man on disability.

                1. Hex Symbol*

                  I really don’t want Chuck Tingle to be a group of grad students appropriating/affecting a neurodivergent persona to increase sales of their weird stories. :(

        2. Jora Malli*

          This is true. I’m a former member of the Romance Writers of America and I met a number of people who would switch sub genres between each book because they were trying to stay on top of whatever trend seemed to be selling best at the time. The problem with that is that their work never got to the level where those top sellers were because they didn’t stick with one thing long enough to master and improve it.

          The indie romance/erotica writers I know who actually became successful enough to quit their day jobs had to invest quite a bit of money into editors and cover artists and advertising before they reached meaningful sales levels. It was worth it to them because this kind of writing was what they truly wanted to do. If that’s true for OP, I say go for it. But if OP is deciding on this genre purely for the money, just know that however many millions of dollars worth of erotica Amazon sells every year is divided between an incredibly large author pool and OP’s individual share will probably be smaller than they’re expecting.

          1. Iwritesmut*

            Yes, you cannot chase trends. By the time a thing is a trend, it’s kind of too late. If you want to write monster erotica, write monster erotica, but don’t write it because it’s having a moment. By the time you get your story out there, the genre will have moved on to historical step-siblings or something. You’ve got to be building a readership who likes what you do, who will follow you, and if someday what you do intersects withe a current trend, Yahtzee. But it’s got to be something you were going to do anyway, otherwise it just seems desperate.

            1. Tried it*

              It’s a lot like building a youtube channel or a blog that way. The key is consistency in content and schedule. The money comes (if it comes at all) from building a following. In short-story smut, you want a new reader to find one of your stories, enjoy it… and then go buy and read your entire back catalogue, with the expectation that it’s all similar.

              For what it’s worth, I wrote and self-published (on Amazon KDP) 10 erotic short stories around 2015 to 2017 and made a total of $500. I had $11 of misc income from royalties to report on my taxes for 2021, lol.

            2. Hex Symbol*

              “Yes, you cannot chase trends. By the time a thing is a trend, it’s kind of too late”

              Somewhat disagree. There are tons of Amazon erotica writers who are leaning into the SEO data, writing trends fast, and hoping to get noticed from something that hits/find something that hits and then keep writing it until the trend dies. I don’t recommend this method because SEO is the devil and everything wrong with the internet, but back when I was looking for the method to succeed as an idie author, this seemed to be what a lot of people were doing.

              I do agree that you need to know your genre and its tropes to succeed, I think that’s why a lot of the SEO-driven stuff seems like it’s a trend pasted onto an existing romance subgenre (billionaire romance but it’s at the North Pole because “Santa” is trending; kidnapping romance but it’s at a scientific research facility because “pandemic” is trending).

        3. WestSideStory*

          I feel impelled to second that last paragraph from Iwritesmut. As someone whose earlier career involved managing the Kindle accounts for not one but three erotic romance fiction publishers — all of them well known and practically household names in that genre – please don’t believe the hype that it’s “easy” to make money writing digital-only erotica. That ship sailed, well, maybe 3-4 years ago.

          The bestselling authors in this genre spend twice as much time promoting their titles as actually writing – keeping up their social media, showing up at events, creating traffic-driving promotions, and networking fiercely within the erotica community. The time commitment to become successful even on a single platform such as Kindle is not compatible with a day job where someone might ‘out’ you just for spite.

          That said, if you have the urge to write, please do so. You may well have a success but don’t expect it to be a money-maker unless you can devote all your weekends and a good chunk of whatever family time you have to continuous self-promotion.

          And it doesn’t have to be erotica! I’ve worked with dozens of authors in the “sweet” romance categories (i.e. no sex!) and helped those authors make unbelievable money in that sub-genre, as well as other niche areas of romance which are fully on display at your local public library (or digital public library). Find some books you like, note the publishers, request their submission guidelines, and make a plan that allows you to explore a new career while working with kids as you like o.

          I’ve lurked quite a bit on AAM, but this is the first time I’ve ever been moved to comment. Sorry folks, but this is my wheelhouse.

          1. harmonybat*

            Please do not apologize for sharing your expertise! It’s really interesting to be able to learn stuff like this!

          2. Princesss Sparklepony*

            You mention showing up at events. I think that would be a no go area if the LW is trying to keep this side line on the DL.

            Thanks for the info on this stuff. I never thought about it and all it entails.

    2. Wendy*

      LW4, I’m a published author of queer romance and erotica. I write under my own name because I can and I think it’s important for representation and whatnot, but a LOT of writers are in your same boat. We’ve all heard the horror stories – and seen the news articles – but it’s only a tiny percentage of erotica authors who get outed and have professional consequences. That said, the tiny percentage is more than zero, so be careful! The hardest part (from what my friends who use pseudonyms tell me) is keeping your pen name and your real name all the way separate on social media. You will inevitably have people in your real life want to support your work, and you have to be very clear on boundaries with them so they know that really really, you don’t want any posts cross-tagged or anyone to address you by your real-world name.

      1. Aunty Fox*

        I was a book blogger for years (pre insta days) and we had a regular slot with a group of romance erotica writers. There were three people who used to chat with others in the comments that I got to know individually reasonably well. It still took me two years to find out they were the same person and even then, only because they told me! Just an amusing story, but also the writer crafted three distinct and convincing personalities for social media, it was quite a feat! She’s become a good friend and I still crack her up every so often reminding her.

        To LW4 erotic fiction is hard to do well and as others have said it’s not lucrative for everyone, if you are keeping your identity secret it adds to the workload and makes marketing more complex so give it some thought. And consider the school and town you are dealing with, is it generally quite liberal or very christian conservative (for instance), the latter is more likely to give you a problem.

        1. MsSolo UK*

          Just to build on the lucrative thing, I used to write, and over the years I made a whole 3 digit figure from writing. Which is nice! It mostly came in at £5-£20 a month, apart from the one time I got an advance which covered a whole half of that month’s rent (but Amazon has pretty much killed the erotic small press market, so you’ll probably be better off self-publishing these days). These days, I make more doing surveys online.

          The people I know who make a living from writing erotic romance full time probably make less than an elementary teacher’s wage putting out a book every two months, and these are popular books! It’s a huge amount of work, and the way publishing has changed in the last decade has made it harder. You’ve got to love the genre enough to put the hours in, ultimately. Readers can smell an opportunist a mile off.

          1. I edit everything*

            Yep. When I had a book up, I made enough to buy a pizza. Not nothing, but I wouldn’t do it again. This is why I edit now.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same. I made more than I expected to last year, but not enough to stop job hunting.
              Not that it would stop me from writing, because I will probably never do that. And I publicly promised to finish my trilogy.

          2. Baby Yoda*

            “but Amazon has pretty much killed the erotic small press market, so you’ll probably be better off self-publishing these days” Yes and same for the sweet romance market. After years of working with a small press I was shocked at how much more $$ I made by self publishing.

          3. sub rosa for this*

            Same here – I think my royalties work out to about $10 a quarter. (That’s a quarter of a year, btw.)

            There is SO MUCH you have to do even writing for a publisher; self-pubbing is even more intensive work – it’s exhausting just doing all the marketing, and leaves you little time for writing – and once you’ve done it, you find out that the most successful writers are usually conglomerates of ghosts writing under a single pen name to maintain traction with their readers, because readers forget about you if you don’t have a new title coming out every 2-3 months.

            That said, if you want to do it, go for it! Be aware of issues with Amazon (google things like book-stuffing and Cockygate) and find other writers you can form a network with to help avoid being pirated. A few years ago I’d have recommended you join RWA for the latter, but… *sigh*

            Best of luck to you!

      2. I edit everything*

        Yeah, I edit romance (erotic and otherwise), and my clients promote on Facebook heavily, and it’s very, very difficult to keep their identities completely separate.

        It’s really going to depend on how erotic you’re going–I have one client who writes historical romance with a single sex scene per book, and she brings in bucketloads of money from a large and dedicated fan base. She’s a retired nurse and teacher, and I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with her working with kids, one on one. But some of the stuff on FB would get you serious side-eye no matter who you’re working with. It’s a huge spectrum on both ends.

        LW, be sure to do your research about how to maximize income–self publishing is a complicated, risky prospect, with far more involved than writing something and just throwing it up on Amazon. And be sure to hire an editor, even though it seems expensive.

        1. Cohort 1*

          Hear! Hear! on the subject of editors. I’m currently reading a series of SF stories that has an ongoing problem with putting question marks on questions and some annoying misplaced quotation marks. “It’s odd, said Jane. Where is that ray gun.” It drives me nuts. These are Kindle versions, so maybe the the print versions did a better job. And then there are popular authors who desperately needed an editor with a well focused large red pen to thin out the extraneous. I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            Not an editor issue but I stopped reading an author’s series that I liked because by book 20-something, she’d get confused about what had happened in earlier books so would get things wrong.

            Except as a reader, I was constantly re-reading the old books. I had to stop the insanity because I was just getting so upset at something that wasn’t that important in the scope of life.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            Are these self-published? The self-publishing crowd runs the gamut from carefully edited to publishing first drafts. I have seen a writer dismiss second drafts as the sign of a dilettante, dilly-dallying when the writer should be working on their next book. This is an outlier, but it didn’t produce any push-back.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Unfortunately, some trade published books lack editing, too, including some very popular series. I kind of winced at a few of the typos (inconsistent use of nicknames, some synonyms which passed the spellchecker but weren’t right, that kind of thing) in one recently. And let’s be real, the later books of some popular series don’t always receive as much enthusiasm from the author as the earlier ones.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I have been an interested observer of the self-publishing world for about five years now. I first looked into it when I got serious about writing a book. I concluded that while self-publishing makes sense for some sorts of books, early baseball history is not one of them. But I have maintained my interest in self-publishing as a cultural phenomenon. I am interested insiders’ take on my take, as follows:

          Self-publishing, entirely or primarily in ebook format, became a viable business strategy around 2010 or so. The early adopters were startled to discover how much money they were earning, and quit their day jobs.

          That is the good part. The first bad part is that Amazon, a major player from the start, now is nearly the entire game, and predictably is putting the squeeze on authors. This is not through royalty rates, but indirectly. You have to pay them off for them to show your book in any commercially meaningful way.

          The second bad part is that the market is very crowded. It wasn’t for those early adopters, which explains their unexpected good fortune. The hard part no longer is getting published. Anyone can easily do that. Getting noticed, however, is harder than ever. Some people have a knack for self-marketing. Most of us do not.

          The third bad part is that apart from extraordinarily rare exceptions, the financial plan requires constant output of new product. The strategy is not to appeal to a large number of readers, but to have a limited but devoted fanbase. They will buy everything you make available, but the unit price is low. The way to make this work is to put out a high volume of new works for your devoted fans to buy.

          Put this all together and this makes sense for some people (those with an aptitude for marketing and able to write quickly) and some sorts of books (mostly commercial genre fiction of one sort or another). How long you can maintain the pace is another matter. It frankly seems grueling, and I understand that burnout is a very real issue.

          There are two classes of exceptions to the above. One is traditionally published mid-list authors who already have a fan base. They can bring this fan base over to self-published works. My go-to example is Lois McMaster Bujold. She will put out one or two novellas a year and I will happily pay $4 to download every time she does. She has a substantial fan base from decades of traditional publishing, so she doesn’t need to churn out books at a fantastic rate.

          The other exception is the hobbyist writer. Making money off your hobby is nice, of course, but this is not the primary motivation here. I you are writing because you need to write, self-publishing can make sense so long as you realize it will likely be only marginally different from putting the completed manuscript in a drawer and forgetting about it. I place myself in this category, except that I am in it to be part of the conversation. Self-publishing would not achieve this, while going through a university press does. I expect to make beer money, but hey: I like beer.

          1. As per Elaine*

            For a different example of author with a fanbase, see T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon. She had a very successful (won a Hugo) long-running webcomic, and has an engaging/quirky twitter presence that she posts on regularly. She generally puts out 1-3 books a year, of varying lengths.

            She has chronicled the financial side of her self-pub business on a long-running thread on Absolute Write; search for “The kingfisher has landed.”

            (Anyone who’s looking at this with an eye to their own self-pub journey — it’s a datapoint, not a guide to what YOU can expect to make. Ursula started a while ago, not soon enough to be one of the very early adopters, but soon enough that the market was growing and only somewhat crowded, as opposed to very crowded. Also, recall the fanbase part. She had a not-insubstantial fanbase when she started, and even with that, notice how SLOW the growth of her income is. She was only making grocery money, if that, for YEARS.)

            For people who like data, Jim Hines used to do a survey of author income and post the results. I’m not sure if he’s done it the past few years, but I always found it interesting.

          2. Alice*

            Lois McMaster Bujold also truly *crafts* her books. I listen to them, literally, every single night as I fall asleep and have found one or two “umm, that doesn’t fit with that” moments in her whole catalogue. The links she builds in, particularly in the Vorkosigan series, are astounding. Need a kitten to mess up a crucial dinner party? Introduce its mother in the previous book and make her important to that plot.
            At this level of detail one or two novellas seems hard work!

        3. the once and future grantwriter*

          Any advice on how to get into editing? I’m doing a bit of developmental editing for an audio drama at the moment, and it was a lot of fun. I’d like to do more of it, even if it’s not hugely lucrative, but I’m not sure where to start.

      3. Sloanicote*

        Right. I’m an author (not erotica) and I dreamed of keeping my pen name separate from my real life. But if you want to be successful you have to do a lot of promotion – I appear on podcasts, panels, conferences etc – and have social media and a newsletter and a website. OP may be hoping not to do any of those things and presumably in erotica there are different norms but if you avoid promotion you’re not going to make that money. If you love writing erotica and want to see your work out there even if you have small returns, fine. If you’re doing it as a business the promotional aspects will make it harder to be completely anonymous.

      4. TootsNYC*

        with today’s cross-pollination of Google, Facebook, etc, you may want to be sure you’re using some level of anonymity on the writing computer. I’m always amazed.
        I have a work computer that I’ve used to log in as Work Me and also as Personal Me.
        I have a home computer that I’ve used to log in as Work Me and as Personal Me; my husband uses that computer as well.

        I went to log into my work computer, and Google was suggesting that perhaps I wanted to use my husband’s login? He’s never logged in on that machine.

        So…if there’s a way to do your writing on a computer that has its own distinct connection to the internet, etc., I’d suggest it.

        1. Hex Symbol*

          I hadn’t heard of this before, so I looked it up (and it seems like it isn’t common because I could barely find anything).

          The only answer that made sense is apparently our Google accounts can store and sync other logins from any computer where the Google account is used. I don’t know the specific mechanics, since it seems like we’d all have a few random ghost logins kicking around if it happened every time we logged onto a non-main computer, but I’m not an engineer and I don’t understand any of this.

      5. quill*

        Came in to second this, and caution you on social media promotions: your social media to promote your fiction should be hooked to a different email than your personal social media, and NOT know what your phone number is. Twitter, facebook, etc. have this annoying habit of trying to link all of your profiles to your personally identifying data.

    3. topcat*

      Unfortunately there are a lot of prudes out there, and it takes one prude raising a ruckus to cause a world of pain.

      If you write anything that someone might be “offended” by – whether your work contains swear words, reference to drugs, sex etc – then set up a pen name and be robust about your privacy (eg use domain privacy features on any website).

      1. Sloanicote*

        This is pretty extreme I think (…swear words? Someone would lose a job because their book has swear words?) but we are really harsh on teachers, particularly of young children. Still, I’d say this level of pearl clutching is on the far end.

        1. Wants Green Things*

          Ooooh yes, if you work with children it’s a *very* distinct possibility. Some people have obscenely clean expectations for anyone working around children – even a covenant nun might be too loose for them! People have absolutely lost their jobs because of this Puritan outrage.

          1. quill*

            I mean, Nuns take communion and communion involves wine! Can’t have anyone who teaches a kid live in the same universe as alcohol. /S

            I suspect it’s usually people who dislike the person or the curriculum finding some bad faith argument, but the precedent is so bad at this point that I might be disappointed.

        2. quill*

          It’s a school district. All it takes is ONE parent to raise a large enough stink, and the school district and local legislation will cave like a wet box of kleenex. It’s one of the ways we have been getting book bans and discriminatory laws against trans children and Florida’s recent attempt to make it illegal for children to learn that people can be gay. And many proposed laws to enable parents to sue teachers for teaching anything they disagree with. People have tried to get rid of their children’s teachers because they were living with their fiancee (therefore not waiting for marriage!) because they had a picture from years before of them in a swimsuit on facebook or them holding a red disposable cup that they were tagged in, etc.

          The people with the most firepower against schools are always the least reasonable ones. At this point your career as a teacher is as susceptible to bad-faith attacks as a twitter post that someone set a post-reporting bot on.

      2. Humble Schoolmarm*

        One thing I’ve noticed in my career is that it’s often unexpected what sort of things set rabid parents off. I’ve had a few incidences (video I didn’t preview well enough, a small swearing slip of the tongue, pictures of me at a bar with school sweatshirt on) where I’ve been sure I’m about to be fired. I’ve never heard a thing about those, but I’ve had to grovel for sending a kid to the office after he was passing pictures of his weed stash around and banning water bottles after three kids got in an in-class water fight (there was a fountain 10 steps from the door that they were welcome to use for their hydration needs).

        TLDR: Most parents are reasonable and most parents have better things to do than track down your secret erotica, but there are enough exceptions that I would proceed with extreme caution.

    4. HoHumDrum*

      It really depends on your district. Where I live most parents wouldn’t care (or would think it was cool!) and the ones who do care would struggle to get traction.

      But in lots of areas people absolutely would care and you could lose your job. I think about that teacher who got fired because a parent saw a FB picture of her holding two beers while she was on vacation in Germany. I think about the teacher who’s students were using porn and somehow stumbled upon her side gig taking photos of herself, they shared the photos with other students and SHE got fired. Another teacher had a student take her cell phone out of her desk, found an explicit photo, and she got fired. At private schools I even know teachers who have been fired for getting pregnant out of wedlock or being caught living in sin. Let alone all the teachers who get in trouble when it comes out that they are LGBTQIA. It’s all so ridiculous, but it happens. Many people believe that there’s something sinister about teachers in the first place, and that they are somehow incapable of separating their adult life from their work. Triply so if the teacher is queer or a person of color. People use their children as a weapon to punish and discriminate all the time.

      So that’s just to say- you need to know your district. If one wackadoodle complains, will your admin have your back? Is your union strong? Will people predominantly be on the side of “teachers deserve private lives” or are you in a very “think of the children!!” area?

      1. Observer*

        Keep in mind that most of these stories were with PUBLIC SCHOOL teachers – and absolutely NOT all in high Christian or conservative areas.

        Which is to say that the OP REALLY, REALLY needs to know their area, but more than just “we’re fairly liberal / conservative.”

        OP, see if you can find out what’s happened in the past to teachers / therapists / providers of support services to kids in your area when “scandalous” stuff came out. And look at what gets defined as “scandalous” in your neck of the woods.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          And if there is a “morals clause” in the contract, meaning that if your employer discovers that you are “of low moral character” or some such thing, that you can be fired with cause.

          (My partner works in a public facing position, in an industry where those contracts are a distinct possibility, and has checked to make sure that their contract contains no such clause.)

    5. ecnaseener*

      If all parents were like you, LW wouldn’t be worried. But it only takes a few outraged parents to get them fired.

    6. Katie*

      Unfortunately, just because most people won’t care doesn’t mean there will not be a problem. It’s the far end of the spectrum people who are the loudest and could cause a problem and then pull in the less offended people and twist it for them to be bothered by it too.

    7. Rolly*

      Is your comment helpful? If you feel you are typical of most people, including most conservatives, then yes, maybe it’s helpful. But if you’re just talking about yourself as one data point when the OP has to be worried in a much broader sense, i don’t think what you say is helpful.

      I’m also a parent of a child. My viewpoint is not helpful unless the OP was literally in my community.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        It probably is helpful for the LW to get a general sense of the different ways parents in different communities (including AAM readers, why not?) feel about it — both the positive and the negative. I imagine the LW will also take a firm look at the community where she teaches and put a heavier weight on the impression she gets there. Sometimes we have to start really wide in our research before we zero in on the specific group that matters most; that wider research can help provide a baseline for understanding and developing ways to think about/ask questions of our specific group.

    8. Sloanicote*

      Yeah to me the only exception is if the topic of your erotica was very extreme (uh, animals?) or ventured into overlap with your field – like (sorry to say but this does exist) anything with minors. Maybe don’t write about a naughty nanny/teacher getting on with married parents in a daycare and you’re fine even if I found out as a parent that you do this on the side.

      1. I take tea*

        “Maybe don’t write about a naughty nanny/teacher getting on with married parents in a daycare”

        This. I wouldn’t demand that anybody got fired, but I must say that I never felt quite at ease with the middle aged professor writing a novel about a middle aged professor having a sexual relationship with a student half his age. Under his own name, I’d like to add. It just felt icky, even though the student wasn’t underage.

        1. quill*

          Ah, the stereotypical philandering lit professor novel. It’s VERY hard to not read those as self-insert fantasies.

        2. Maestra*

          There was a colleague (6 grade) at my school who already rang alarm bells for various reasons and then we found out he wrote a book featuring a teacher/student relationship. I think the student was of age, but still…
          I would have felt more comfortable had we found out he’d been writing erotica featuring middle aged adults.

          1. quill*

            I mean, even with college students it’s still as much a situation with potential abuse of power as dating your boss. The person you’re seeing having control over your scholastic or professional life in any way is not good!

    9. Artemesia*

      It doesn’t matter that you or I would not think this a big whoop; the fact is that there are a fair number of people in this country who love making trouble for teachers around this sort of thing. There is a whole political movement obsessed with fake pedophilia; some dude shot up a pizza parlor over fake trafficking. And teachers have been fired for ridiculous things like being seen on facebook holding a glass of wine.

      I would think if a teacher wanted to do this that she would want to take spy level steps at concealment and never ever ever mention it to a soul.

    10. Kyrielle*

      This! Assuming it never comes up in or around your day job, and whatever you’re writing wouldn’t be illegal to actually do (in all 50 states, because we have some oddball laws in just one or two states that never got taken off the books there), I wouldn’t care. I’d try to forget it, because it would be awkward to know, but that would be the extent of it. (That is, I’d want to interact with you as “person who does X for my kids” and not “person I know writes erotic fiction, who also does X for my kids” – because the erotic fiction has nothing to do with _my_ interactions with you. But it’s also not something you’re doing wrong.)

      That said, if you’re in a very conservative area, you may have people who would react with considerably more dismay. Keeping it quiet is a good idea because of that.

      1. Starbuck*

        “and whatever you’re writing wouldn’t be illegal to actually do”

        This is such a weird thing to read because we have entire genres of literature focused on crime. So, so many books! Not to mention books where non-sexual physical altercations occur. And no one really bats an eye at those. Ugh.

    11. Aggretsuko*

      I’m now reminded of the teacher who got fired for reading a book about butts. Some parents are just freaking insane, unfortunately.

    12. Campfire Raccoon*

      As a parent who edits erotic fiction for several writers (some who work in early childhood development), I am not going to look at you weird unless it’s rapey, overly sexist, or far outside the mainstream. Go for it and get yourself a good editor. Someone who can count hands. Even the most seasoned writer has too many hands roaming around during smexy time.

      1. I edit everything*

        Words to live by! Keeping track of hands and clothing is a big part of my job.

    13. Some dude*

      I wouldn’t care either, but people are weird about sex, people are weird about sex work, and sex + children is something that sets a lot of alarm bells off for people. I’d proceed with extreme caution.

      Regency mysteries are also super popular on amazon – maybe that could be a creative venue?

    14. minecraft fan-fic as an alternative*

      A bit tongue-in-cheek here, but my sons go CRAZY for minecraft fan-fic and forces me to buy them (better than him spending all his time playing videogames I guess). They are mind-numbingly boring to me but it seems the authors must make decent money based on the number of positive reviews on amazon (and sounds like they don’t need to pay the game creators). There’s an idea for (maybe?) easy money and perfect if you work with kids. Just saying.

  2. Itsjustanothergirl*

    #4 – I used to edit erotic fiction and people in my current industry – I work in tech now – find it fascinating but scandalous.

    That said, if that’s what you’re passionate about writing, do it, but protect yourself. Create a corporation for your pseudonym and have everything – copyrights, contacts, etc, – go through the corporation to make sure the pseudonym can’t be easily traced back to you. Keep your social media for you and your pseudonym completely separate. Go as far as using different IPs to post so algorithms don’t see the connection between the two accounts.

    And don’t tell anyone. Anyone. That way no one knows your secret and it won’t get out. There’s still a ridiculous stigma around it and when it comes to working with kids somehow this just doesn’t seem to be even the tiniest bit acceptable – though really I don’t see why – and it’s a case where better safe than sorry is probably your best bet.

    1. Wendy*

      This is good advice if you’re writing for the love of it, but you’ll find it hard to build a platform this way and even harder to make money if you don’t have that platform in place. Romance in general and kink/erotica in particular is a wonderfully friendly industry in ways you don’t find with other genres :-) It’s also not likely to be worth the money to make an LLC until you’re already making more than most authors, and websites still need to be registered with a real name and a street address. You can do a lot to make yourself hard to find, but it’s difficult and expensive to go from “hard” to “impossible.”

      1. Dahlia*

        Yeah, this is a case where it really would be best to talk to some people who do actually work in the industry, because, honestly, publishing can be weird.

        It’s similiar to recommending you register a copyright. Are there times when you should do that, like if you’re self-publishing? Sure. Are there times where doing so can make you look incredibly out of touch, like if you do it pre-querying agents? Also yes. The nuance is hard to get if you’re not in there.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        There are webhosts that will be more anonymous in their registry – I think NameCheap in Iceland is one. No idea about customer service/etc.

    2. Sue*

      It doesn’t even sound the OP is passionated about the genre? Just that it is the most lucrative. Seems like a lot of work to keep it secret – and risky for their day job if they fail – for something they might not care that much about?

      1. Sloanicote*

        True, they could write more mainstream romances – also a very popular genre – and probably not have to deal with this level of secrecy. I do think to be truly confident you’re absolutely anonymous it would take next-level security that the average person isn’t going to be interested in maintaining, particularly if you want to have a platform to run ads and interact with readers/other writers (in order to boost sales). Facebook for example has rules against creating accounts under anything other than your legal name; if you create a page for your pen name, they want it to be linked to your real profile. They can require you to upload an ID to prove your identity and they can delete your page if they find out your violating their TOS. You could spend a long time building up social media accounts and learning the ins and outs of advertising and then wake up one morning to find it wiped out.

      2. KateM*

        I was wondering whether it’s even worth doing it, if OP is not passionated about genre and would it do it just for money.

        1. lyonite*

          Yeah, this. There certainly are some erotica authors who make a lot of money, but they put a lot of work in (and generally invest some money, in covers, editing, and advertising), and know a lot about the genre. The “passive income” thing is largely a myth.

        2. TrixM*

          I have to agree with the other commenter saying there’s probably not much money in it for them either, unless they’re wildly lucky.
          Yes, erotica is undoubtedly selling well, but that’s on aggregate. Millions of books sold per month, maybe, but in that, it’d be a handful of authors earning enough to live on, a handful more who still have to work a “real job” but get enough to supplement the rent, and the vast majority earn cents, if they sell.
          It’d be interesting to scrape Amazon or Goodreads for titles in the genre compared with number of authors in the genre, because there are a LOT of authors in the genre. There’s a lot of competition in author numbers and because of the number of books being published, profit-per-book (it any) is spread thin too.
          Unless you’re a “name” author or manage to build a rep, profiting from writing is not the typical story

          1. quill*

            Lurk Romancelandia twitter and you quickly discover that the people making any useful money off their books have been doing it for decades, have put out dozens of books, spend a hell of a lot of time doing their own marketing, and have a source of monetary support (usually a partner’s income or funds from a previous lucrative career) that allows them to treat writing as a full time job, even if it’s a *second* full time job and they still have a day job.

            And also take their advice on where to publish so that amazon is not your entire profit stream, because if you only have one and there’s a fit of prudery that amazon caves to, you can lose out a lot.

      3. Rachel in NYC*

        yeah, a coworker’s spouse is getting into writing. it sorta sounded like they were trying a little bit of everything. but I took that more as they are testing the waters of writing, after deciding the career they went to school for wasn’t what they wanted as opposed to these are the hot book markets.

    3. Not Your Fantasy Girl*

      Go as far as using different IPs to post so algorithms don’t see the connection between the two accounts.

      I have to laugh, because this is exactly how I found out my ex-best friend is doing a very NSFW urban fantasy webcomic about him and me (our friendship was platonic, or so I thought. His controlling, abusive, negging nature was what ultimately drove me away after too many years wasted on him.) He follows my Twitter account on a worksafe one, and didn’t take proper steps to secure his NSFW identity. Literally the day he created his NSFW side account, Twitter recommended it to me as someone to follow, and I recognized the art style in his profile picture immediately. It’s hilarious because he’s a fullstack webdev, screenwriter, and YA author who reaaaally should know better about protecting his online identities. He doesn’t know I know about his NSFW identity or adult work. We don’t talk and haven’t for years. I don’t block him because I don’t want to deal with the backstabbing drama he’ll raise, and anyway, I don’t post anything on my Twitter I don’t want him knowing.

      If you’re wondering about the webcomic, I’m not gonna ID it because my ex-BFF is a (diagnosed) malicious narcissist who Googles himself obsessively and has no trouble sending out the whiteknights. But the comic is highly popular. He makes a lot of Patreon and commission money from it, and gets a lot of fanart. The character who is Totally Not Based On Me At All *eyeroll* is pretty much universally beloved. She’s the willing sex slave of the male lead, who is Totally Not Based On Him At All *double eyeroll.* It’s really weird to see countless people fawning over what is basically yourself, and they don’t even know their “dream webcomic girl” is real…and is very conflicted about all the lovingly rendered, but frequently explicit, fanart of themself. (I’m AFAB-enby. The character based on me is cis-female. My enby identity was always something ex-BFF wouldn’t tolerate.)

      I just went off an a major tangent about my own situation, but seriously, OP, protect your identity! The person who figures out who you are otherwise might be far less inclined to avoid drama than I am. And…don’t assume that people won’t figure out your inspirations in your work. I definitely do not recommend writing real people into your work without their consent. My ex-BFF is sure he’s gotten away with it because he’s So Very Clever, but literally everyone who knows both him and me can see how blatantly the two leads are based on us. I get messages about it every time the comic updates: “OMG I remember when he said that to you on IRC!” “Isn’t that one of your outfits?” “Wow, these are the fantasies he’s been having about you all this time?!”

        1. Not Your Fantasy Girl*

          I really appreciate this. I had to write that in a hurry, so it might come off a bit more frantic than I really feel about it, but I hate the whole situation. I don’t have problems with adult content, but I do have problems with being included in such without my consent. Also the fact that my ex-BFF would rather fetishize and monetize me/my perceived sexuality than treat me like a person and address whatever his thoughts and feelings are with me directly.

      1. Anon for this one*

        For what it’s worth (saying this for the benefit of folks reading for tips to protect their identities – I have a side gig helping folks with this kind of thing), the most likely way for this scenario to happen, is that it recommended the account to you because he associated a phone number or email address that you have in your contacts, with it. A lot of people’s accounts (on various apps) that they meant to be unconnectable with them, get found that way.

        Also, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that, that’s awful!

        1. Not Your Fantasy Girl*

          We actually don’t have each other’s info outside of Twitter usernames! (And he only found my current username because we have a mutual friend following both of us–he figured out who I was by my responses to a tweet thread where the mutual and I talked about things all three of us originally did together.) It’s been over twenty years since I cut him out. I’ve long since deleted the contact info accounts he knew about, many years before this NSFW stuff happened. Not because of him, just wanted a change from my high school self. Everything I do today is under emails, names, and numbers that didn’t exist when we knew each other.

          1. Not Your Fantasy Girl*

            Dang it, I was trying to click the check box, not Submit! I’d wanted to say that I appreciate your post, and it’s also really good to know about more ways to protect yourself online. :)

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Oh my goodness. That sounds so disturbing and gross. I’m sorry someone is using you for their comic that way!

        1. Not Your Fantasy Girl*

          Thank you! Sometimes I think I’m overreacting to how anxious it makes me feel because of my own personal connection to the situation. But when I bring it up, the reactions of other people tell me that, if anything, I might be *too* calm about being made into an adult fetish comic character without my consent. Still, it’s not like there’s much of anything I can do about it except dish with my horrified friends who also knew the guy back in the day.

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Oh my goodness, how violating. I’m so sorry you have to deal with that.

        1. Not Your Fantasy Girl*

          Thank you! He’d be a really amazing person, worthy of all the praise he gets, if he’d just learn to value other people as people, and not as potential stepping stone objects for his own benefit. I could even forgive all of this stuff with the non-consensual webcomic character, if both a sincere apology and honest effort to be and do better were put into action. But I’m not too optimistic. I just don’t see him making that kind of change as long as he has people kissing his feet.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Please, please, please do not take advice about forming a business entity from internet strangers, only from a CPA or attorney in your own jurisdiction.

      The requirements and costs of forming “a corporation” vary incredibly widely. In some places you can form an LLC for a few hundred dollars and signing 2 pieces of paper. In others, it’s multiple thousands and requires onerous annual upkeep, to the point that it could make it nearly impossible to become profitable in a reasonable timeframe, because you’d be sinking all your startup cash into the entity instead of the books.

      There are also tax implications.

      In many places it is perfectly legal to do business under a trade name without an entity, and if you are self-publishing, there aren’t really any contracts, just Terms of Service for the providers like KDP and Draft to Digital.

      Talk to someone local and well-recommended about what’s actually needed, because if you walk in and say “I need to form a corporation,” there are folks who will just oblige you and take your money without screening to see if it’s really in your best interest.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        Agreed. I’ve been in multiple classes for people starting/growing small businesses and there’s ALWAYS someone who formed an LLC before doing any feasibility planning for the business. In my state, it’s $800/yr in fees every year to maintain an LLC, plus requirements for a board and it’s a BIG FREAKING DEAL if you decide to close the business.

        The instructors always warn people not to do an LLC unless they meet xyz criteria because it’s a big hassle and it won’t do what you think it does. I don’t remember the details of the tax implications, except that you can’t have an LLC that only pays you $1/yr salary but you expense your car, travel, cellphone, etc. like people think you can. People always say “but I don’t wanna lose my house if I get sued over the business” but business insurance is going to be cheaper than LLC fees and more effective.

        Best case scenario if you have an LLC but not insurance and your business gets sued for enough money your house would be at risk is that you sell the business to pay the settlement and your lawyers. If you have (adequate) insurance, your insurance pays out (and maybe they terminate you but maybe not) and you don’t pay lawyers and you don’t have to sell the business. Heck, I knew some guys who had a public benefit corporation and lost the whole business because they didn’t pay $99/yr for computer security insurance and some jerk stole their corporate identity, took out a ton of loans, and defaulted.

    5. CoveredinBees*

      It’s so funny that a product which is clearly so popular is also so stigmatized. I know that applies to many forms of sex work and sex-related work.

  3. Cmdrshpard*

    LW#4: I don’t work with children so take it for what it is worth. But Ihave seen several stories of people that work with kids getting in trouble/fired for very normal things.

    I am a believer in two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. I would maybe only trust a significant other or a very very close friend. But more distant friends and family might let it slip accidentally not thinking anything of it.

    Friend/family member mentions to someone they know that does not know you “Oh my friend Jane Smith is a writer under the name Jesse James.”

    That person looks up your writing get curious about your day job sees you work with kids and decides to raise a stink about it.

    Personally I wouldn’t tell anyone besides my spouse that I started writing. I think if you tell people you started publishing they will want to see your stories.

    1. Pam Poovey*

      I find it ridiculous the level of prying into personal lives we allow for people who work with kids. OBVIOUSLY make sure they aren’t predators or bigots or otherwise unsafe, but people have lost their jobs and/or teaching license over things like old college photos where they were drinking or because someone found out they did burlesque as a hobby. It’s absurd.

    2. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      +1 to the “tell no one”. I write as a hobby. Sometimes I mention this to people who don’t know me well yet.

      Question 1: “What do you write?”
      Please have an extremely boring lie to tell in answer to this, something like “Mostly I journal!” and maybe an extremely lengthy detour into the Morning Pages technique from The Artist’s Way, because…
      … the inevitable Question 2 if you say anything like books or publishing is going to be “Can I read it?” and it’s much better if you can head this question off before it happens.

      If you can’t, “I’m still trying to get in to the industry” is a great non-response, because it will invite them to share their pet opinions on self-publishing, and any tricks they may have heard of to get the attention of a publisher. Incidentally, check the “Writer Beware” blog/site before accepting any unbelievably awesome deal, especially one where you only have to pay the low, low amount of $scam in order to get your book printed and in bookstores everywhere.

  4. TheSüperflüoüsUmlaüt*

    OP#3 – If asking nicely doesn’t get you and your former colleagues removed from the website, does this org have a social media presence? Could some of your (not obviously connected to you) friends post on the org’s FB page or somewhere @NuttyPresident to very publicly enquire as to why their website shows A, B and C are listed as employees when it’s public knowledge that all these people are no longer working there, and calling out the deceptive nature of this conduct?

    1. Laure001*

      Maybe not call out the deceptive nature of the conduct right away, because to the readers, it will sound paranoid… They will think the site has just not been updated yet. But say very publicly, “by the way, Edward Baldwin doesn’t work here anymore, how come he’s still listed on your website?” should work, especially if other people agree in the comments. “Yes, doesn’t Edward work at NASA now?” etc.

    2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I think what I might do is give them a couple of weeks to fix it, then if they hadn’t, add somewhere on my LinkedIn, “Please note that I no longer work at [company]; their web site is out of date.”

      1. Mockingjay*

        Agree. Company websites are usually low priority. My excellent company’s is dreadful and hasn’t been updated since I started nearly 6 years ago.

      2. DrSalty*

        I would assume this would be obvious from the dates of employment on OP’s personal LinkedIn page, so adding a statement seems a bit like overkill to me.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I was thinking that one avenue the LW could take would be to contact LinkedIn directly. If LW is identified erroneously on an organization’s page, LinkedIn should be able to get that removed. It would likely be a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        I don’t think companies can list people as employees on LinkedIn, the individuals control their accounts. This seems to be a company-website issue, the only LinkedIn tie-in here is that OP was alerted to the website issue because they saw their former CEO view their LI profile.

    4. ehhh,*

      #3 Can’t help but wonder if you still have access to change the website…strikes me that the prez isn’t one of those kinds of people who would change passwords regularly.

    5. Smithy*

      I want to start by saying that the OP is in the right and their assessment is also likely right – that this is being done to cover for high turnover more so than deceptively relying on the names and experience of past employees to bolster the nonprofits’ standing.

      However, I think it may also benefit the OP to give a very good and angry yell at the sky before considering their next steps. If they left on good terms with their former manager who’s also on the website, I’d likely reach out and ask for their guidance, advice, and perhaps just to vent first. Particularly if the first step would be to ask the CEO to remove them from the website.

      The OP can still decide to go through with asking the CEO and trying other means like drawing attention on social media, but it’s very likely to turn a good/quiet leaving into less of one. Which the OP can decide they’re totally ok with. But it may also be that after connecting with someone else who knows this CEO and how much of a bad actor they are, and letting go some of that frustration and anger…..that will let this be a nonsense thing the OP can let go of easier.

      Organization’s who have publicly accessible bad audits get donations from donors who say they do financial due diligence. While our past nonprofit employers who have wronged us and our colleagues by being unethical will always sting, this kind of misrepresentation usually only creates noise within our corners of the industry. If that. OP, not saying you need to take this, but my suggestion would be to try and connect with some other people this impacts first before making a final decision.

    6. Beth*

      I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that the remaining staff at the org doen’t include anyone who actually knows how to remove obsolete content from the website. I’ve seen it happen before.

    7. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I also thought of social media, but no need to ask passive aggressive questions about why or call out other people who have left; just make the request politely on their page “Please remove my photo and information from your website; I no longer work at Cinnamon Toast Alliance as of November 1, 2021.”

  5. Eagle*

    OP #4, there are a number of resources out there that help starting writers with problems like this one. I find the 20booksto50k FB page provides more info and help than most. Read the published group info and search the threads, many answers are there.

    1. Sloanicote*

      There is also a specific subpage for spicy books (they can’t use the word erotica) that would be great for OP – I think it’s common to discuss questions about anonymity there.

    2. going anon for this one*

      A friend has recommended this same FB group to me. Can second its value.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Good group in general, and well moderated (unlike many such). Can’t speak to the “spicy” subgroup but the overall page is very solid.

  6. Mamabear*

    I have small children who attend daycare and I couldnt care less what the educators do in their spare time. As long as your fiction doesnt include children (which I would have thought is obvious anyway), you do you boo.

    1. Ariaflame*

      Well, it’s good that you think so. But it’s fairly clear that some parents, especially in some locations are not as sensible as you.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        Absolutely. I know teachers that are very careful to not have their picture taken while holding an alcoholic beverage because of how some parents react to that.

    2. Beka Cooper*

      On the other hand, I worked at a daycare where one of our teachers got in trouble for posting “I’m so glad it’s Friday” on her facebook page, because it would “make the parents think she doesn’t want to be with their kids.” Some time later, the director tried to add me on FB and I ignored the request, haha.

    3. Observer*

      It’s not only parents you need worry about. If the OP is in a regulated field, which is probably since they talk about a clinical setting, they need to worry about regulators (even if there are no explicit regulations in place) and employers who worry about the optics or dealing with with regulators who don’t like it.

    4. Some dude*

      Counterpoint – parents took their kid out of my preschool because a preschool teacher wrote about his dealings with depression and OCD under his own name. People can get super uptight when it comes to their kids.

      1. quill*

        Anything under the sun that can be stigmatized gets somebody up in arms if it exists in the same universe as their children. Partly because people think they can and should have complete control of every idea their child could ever come in contact with, (whether because they’ve become paranoid about safety or because they cannot tolerate that the child may EVER disagree with them,) and partly because “think of the children” has been the rallying cry of every xenophobic conspiracy theory since the roman empire.

  7. Jinni*

    I’ve written erotica and romance and other fiction. (It’s my day job). I know a LOT of writers (think Catholic school teachers, church deacons, and the like) who write erotica. Choose a pen name. When you copyright, use pseudonymous – although also be aware of the differing copyright protection. People do it ALL THE TIME. A secret, though, is something you share with no one. Be cognizant of that as well.

    Also, google ‘erotica dungeon’ and ‘Amazon’ to be aware of some of the issues in marketing this kind of fiction.

    1. I edit everything*

      Yeah, Amazon is tricky about erotica. Words in titles and images on covers can effectively hide your work from anyone who doesn’t have a direct link, it seems. One little check box, and you’re sunk.

      I love my author clients, but the hoops they jump through and the amount of labor they put in to make any money off their books at all is incredible. I hate to discourage the LW, but it’s important she not go into this endeavor thinking it’s about just writing some steamy scenes and putting them up on Amazon for an instant paycheck.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The inherent flaw as I see it with the self-publishing world as it currently exists is that it depends entirely on Amazon, Even for those who broadly approve of Amazon, this means that writers are reliant on whatever quirks Amazon might display. The sadder but wiser understand that Amazon will maximize its income off these writers and that they have no power in this relationship.

    2. MissGirl*

      I’ve written a few clean romances and while there are authors making good money at romance, there are many more of us making a little money. The tough thing with romance is that you have to be churning out a lot of books. The market moves fast and the authors who do well are publishing at least 12 books a year.

      For your anonymity, I would recommend creating a pen name right off the bat with a Facebook page. There are a lot of author resources on Facebook and you want to be interacting with that community using your alias. Check out the Writing Gals.

    3. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      If you really want to read some “niche” porn, check out “dinosaur erotica”. You’ll never look at a picture of a T-Rex or a Triceratops the same way again! ;}

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I could have gone to my grave happy never knowing such a thing exists. Oh well, Rule 34 of the internet is at it again.

  8. gsa*

    I wonder why the second letter writer’s coworkers print things without being asked to do so.

    There are times when I prefer a piece of paper or two. But I do, I can print it for myself or ask someone.

    Script, “Thanks for printing that.”

    Script, “Thanks for printing that, but I’ve got it handled.”

    Script, “Thanks for printing that, where’s the recycling bin.”

    Script, “Why on God”s name did you print that and give it to me. Did I even ask you to do that!!!”

    The answer is somewhere in the middle of the above scripts.

    1. MistOrMister*

      Some people just really like having things on paper! I had one position where it was helpful to have my notes on paper based on how I was reviewing things and my colleagues and I would usually give each other printed samples. I’ve since moved to electronic notes and samples, but some people still like to give you a printout. I had one coworker cover me and when I realized they hadn’t saved the emails sent while I was out, nor had they copied me on any of them so I could save them myself, I asked that they forward them to me. Said coworker then printed all the emails so I could save them. That was interesting.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Printing emails is one of those things that make me feel the urge to scream. Why? Just why? When people do it I scream on the inside, smile, and ask them to forward me the electronic version

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I’ve printed a fair amount of emails in my time as we often use them for support when documenting things and our documentation used to be stored in big binders. Now our binders are all electronic which was very helpful when we started working remotely. I guess actually I still print emails a lot, but now I print them to PDF.

        2. Anax*

          There’s some pretty solid studies on this – tl;dr, people seem to skim more when reading on screens, so printed media can be useful for dense information that needs to be thoroughly retained. (Which isn’t most email, but it’s some email for some people.)

          “Don’t throw away your printed books: A meta-analysis on the effects of reading media on reading comprehension” is a 2018 meta-analysis I found pretty interesting.

          1. A Feast of Fools*

            This is me. When I went back to school, I had to buy a hard copy of the textbooks if I wanted to get an A in the class. Actually, I bought both the online versions and the printed ones.

            The physical copies were highlighted, marked up, and annotated, then I used the online versions for refreshers / ease of finding where in the book an important piece of info was.

            But I haven’t had to print anything out at work in probably a decade.

        3. NNN222*

          I had a manager who would print an email we were both sent and leave a note on it for me. It wasn’t the most efficient thing to do and I had never given him the impression that I don’t promptly respond to emails or perform requests of me in said emails. I felt like I was being treated like a child who had to be reminded to do things on top of having to have an unnecessary piece of paper on my desk.

      2. Nanani*

        The issue isn’t really “printing: good or bad” but about taking into consideration the wishes of people who aren’t you.
        LW doesn’t like to use paper, while at least some of their colleagues do.
        It’s pretty normal to be irritated that these colleagues just refuse to absorb LW’s preference and instead push their own onto them. A minor one, in the grand scheme, but still deeply annoying.

        So, the merits of printing vs electronics are completely besides the point.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          “ LW doesn’t like to use paper, while at least some of their colleagues do.”

          It may be as simple as this – OP may be the lone electronic person in an office full of paper people. Which may make this an uphill battle, OP, but if you really do work best electronically – I think just keep calmly stating that, and as someone else suggested possibly return those papers to the people who printed them in an “I think you forgot this” tone.

    2. Despachito*

      Why not say directly: “Thanks, but next time please do not print things for me?”

        1. Despachito*

          I was referring to gsa’s list, as I thought all the options given were sort of avoiding to say it directly.

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          Well, no, the LW doesn’t say they’ve said that. Based on their examples, they’ve been using 16 words when 6 will do (I have a coworker who does this and overhearing his phone calls in our open office stresses me out) and the important part of the message is getting lost. That’s why Alison’s answer also stresses brevity.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Right. Typically when people want to soften the message, they tend to use more words. OP is using so many words that the message is getting lost.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        In my experience, I had to add to that, “I really hate the mess and clutter papers make and find it harder to find things. I’m just going to recycle these.” and then bin them right there in front of the person. I always end up as “the person who hates paper” but since it is true (even if it is weird) I’m cool with that.

        1. DataGirl*

          Yes, feels a little aggressive, but if talking to them doesn’t work repeatedly throwing the paper into the recycling bin the moment they hand it to OP with a ‘I prefer to use electronic documents, thanks’. EVERY TIME. They might get offended but they’ll eventually learn not to print things.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Please take your printout with you.”
      “Here you left this at my desk.”

      1. Mockingjay*

        This. Give it back. If Printing Polly protests, “I printed this copy for you!”, reply airily “oh, I don’t use paper; I review everything electronically.”

        Repeat until Polly is snowed in by mounds of copies.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, I think hand it back/refuse to take it is the only thing that will work. “Oh, no thanks, I keep everything electronically.”

        1. Data Bear*

          Yes. Don’t accept the paper. Make them dispose of it. That will do a lot to help your preference stick in their heads.

      3. bookworm*

        Yup, THIS! make the paper the problem of the person giving it to you. This strategy also works for people who insist on giving gag gifts.

      1. Katie*

        Oops accidentally hit submit.
        Perhaps OP is asking lots of questions to the coworker and that is their polite way of saying look in the documentation?

        Or (and way more likely) that person likes printing things for their own sake and can’t imagine a world where an electronic version is better?

    4. ceiswyn*

      Anyone who attempts to give me a pile of dead tree I didn’t ask for tends to get a blank look and a “what am I meant to do with this?”

      Though that’s because they’re usually also someone who’s been irritating me for other reasons. Good colleagues, in my experience, understand electronic formats and do not make assumptions about my preferences.

      Either way, I’d take the view that their printout, their problem, it’s not going on my desk – but I also have enough capital that I can get away with the odd bit of brusqueness. And there’s a reason I avoid working with people more than I have to :)

      1. Ann Disasterrr*

        I’m a good colleague but still need to print some things. I have adhd & cannot focus on screen on certain tasks. While I absolutely understand your preference your statement as is makes it sound like anyone needing to print anything is a bad colleague. I understand electronic formats just fine but certain tasks will take me 10x longer because my brain is not typical so I’m gonna print things out once in awhile, it has nothing to do with my intelligence or ability to be a good colleague.

        1. urguncle*

          Ceiswyn is saying that good colleagues remember your preference for electronic copies and don’t litter their coworkers desks with detritus that does not pertain to them.

          1. Nanani*

            Exactly. It’s not about which team, paper or digital, you’re on, it’s about taking the other person’s preference into consideration instead of pushing yours.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          They didn’t say good colleagues *use* electronic formats, just that they understand the concept and will let those who prefer to stick to electronic do so. So it sounds like you would fit into that category then…

        3. renna*

          Right??? I understand the annoyance of someone giving you a printout you don’t want, but this comment section has taken a weirdly aggressive stance on people….using paper? Having a preference?

          1. Ann Disasterrr*

            It was the good colleagues understand electronic formats that came across poorly to me. And the comments on the Facebook post shaming people for wanting or needing to print some things. I was just offering insight on the reason some people still print things that aren’t just a hard habit to break. It’s definitely a weird culture the OP is in where they force printing on you but I also have been given crap several times for printing things once in awhile & while I’d love to be paper free, my brain can’t handle it for a few things. I honestly only commented in here after I encountered a printer police in the Facebook comments & wanted to offer a perspective that wasn’t rooted in being stubborn & not wanting to change – it gets to you when boomers (in my former office) make snarky comments on me being a millennial & needing to print things once in awhile.

            1. ceiswyn*

              Good colleagues understand that electronic formats have different properties and utilities to print ones, and that some people may prefer them.

              I occasionally use print myself, usually for proofing.

          2. Tirving*

            I’m getting the same impression from the comments. ” Paper bad. If you use paper you’re a tree killer so therefore you’re bad and I’m better than you”. Check your biases at the door. If your Preference is not to use paper, that is simply Your Preference, and others should respect that. Just as you should be respectful of theirs. I’ve experienced several people all proofreading and approving an article in digital format, only to have someone print it out and find a typo right away.

        4. Cdn Acct*

          I didn’t read ceiswyn’s comment that way, my impression they were saying good colleagues would know, or would check before, giving ceiswyn paper copies, not that good colleagues don’t use paper at all.

        5. Nanani*

          Nobody is saying -you- can’t have printed copies. This is not a debate about the merits of printing, it’s about -not giving printouts to someone who doesn’t use them-

          It wouldn’t be ok to force you to stop printing what you need, either, but that’s not the issue.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I thought at first it was just one coworker but when I realized they were saying multiple people did this, that seems so odd to me! I definitely have coworkers who prefer to work with hard copies and I occasionally print things to mark up by hand but I can’t imagine printing things for someone else so often without being explicitly asked. I’m very curious if OP is their boss? Because if they are just peers, I really can’t imagine one of my coworkers mentioning that they need to know about X and then I go to my own computer, search for X, find the relevant information, print it out, and then bring it to them.

      I like my coworkers but printing aside it seems odd to me that multiple people are going out of their way several times a day to bring information to OP? But maybe that’s a necessary part of whatever their jobs are and it’s less odd than I am imagining.

      Printing not aside, if OP really wants it to stop they could try just not even accepting the paper if they haven’t tried that yet. The next time people bring you a paper say “thanks, but I really don’t like working with paper I will just stick to what I’ve got here” and then don’t take it. If it’s just two or three people hopefully you only need to do that a few times. If it’s somehow more than two or three people doing this then honestly that may be too big of a culture to change lol.

    6. TootsNYC*

      never say “thanks for printing that.”
      Say, “Oh, you printed that. How weird. I’ll look in my email.”

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Exactly. Do not move toward the paper. Say no thanks and turn toward your computer.

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    LW4, I agree with the commenter above about keeping secrets. I wouldn’t share this with anyone other than your spouse.

    Also, consider the political climate where you live. I live in a very, very conservative county, and the antics of the hyper-conservative majority that took control of the school board in November are so insane (and also in some cases illegal) that they’ve made national news. They are funded by several right wing extremist groups, one of them led by a person who was a speaker in DC on January 6th, and has a podcast where he has voiced his support for Putin and Russia, as well as accused educators of grooming school children. Were someone like that to get wind of your side hustle, they could not only try to get you fired, but irreparably damage your reputation.

    Be very, very careful if you decide to pursue this. It really blows that some people are so unhinged about this kind of thing, but they’re out there, and you don’t know who they might be.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I think especially now. there’s such a mania about “grooming children,” etc.

      And it doesn’t even have to be anyone who’s in your school district who will do this.

      1. quill*

        The accusation – especially if against someone who isn’t politically far right – is seen as proof by most of the far right at this point.

    2. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

      Absolutely. Even in the relatively moderate district I teach in, there are some parents, other community members, and school board members who are making it their new obsession to “get” teachers in any way they can. There’s literally a hotline through the state department of education to report teachers. No matter the accusation, the commissioner follows up. It’s scary out there. I’m all for following dreams — absolutely — but just be cautious.

    3. Pam Poovey*

      Teachers are not paid nearly enough to put up with this shit. Though tbh I’m not sure there’s an amount that would be enough.

  10. pcake*

    OP 4, if you do decide to start writing erotic fiction, you’ll probably a website to further promote your work and help fans keep in touch with you. Remember to use a secure feature that hides the name of the domain owner or you may find yourself outed as an erotic fiction writer even before you start.

    Btw, non-erotic romance sells very well, too.

  11. MistOrMister*

    I am trying to think of what kind of operation a Cinnamon Toast Alliance would be and I can only think it would be something fabulous.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

      Motion carried. We exist.
      First order of business for Saturday’s open forum: pick an anthem. Serious or silly, they’re out there.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I move that the next order of business be to establish the correct order for putting cinnamon and sugar on the toast — mix together or cinnamon then sugar?

  12. Observer*

    #4 – If you do this, please make very very sure that no one can dig up that you are the author of Piece Of Erotic Fiction. The people posting here wouldn’t care if their kid’s teachers do this, but the reality is that that’s waaaay not the norm. I mean, teachers have gotten fired for being “so licentious” as to have their picture taken at a pool party in a (not especially revealing) bathing suit with alcohol present.

    And you are not just working with kids – you are dealing with them in a clinical setting. For a lot of people, the sensitivity is going to be really ramped up.

    1. Despachito*

      One of my kids’ teachers had her pictures – not explicitly erotic but it was what I think is called “glamour” – taken and published. Of course the teenage students googled them and giggled about them.

      I think we are pretty liberal here so there was no scandal and the teacher’s livelihood was in no way jeopardized but I reckon there are much stricter areas and I’d go with the advice of writing your fiction but be very careful not to reveal the link between your working self and your writing self, and especially not to tell anyone. Be aware that for a person really invested in it it is not that difficult to google and find many a hidden secret.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        The kid over the road from me once tried looking up his teachers on Facebook, found what he thought was one of his teachers having had their photo taken wearing nothing but a sock over a certain part of his anatomy, as part of a testicular cancer awareness campaign (from what I understand this person’s face wasn’t visible in the photo), and immediately circulated it to all his friends. One friend felt guilty about it and reported it to a different teacher, and the school were seriously considering disciplinary action for the teacher over it before they looked at it properly and found out this was just some dude with the same name as that teacher, and the teacher had nothing to do with it.

        So yeah, I’d recommend the pseudonym to avoid something like that.

    2. Nobby Nobbs*

      Be careful of your anonymity/pseudonymity from the other direction too! If you get involved in online drama, at your own instigation or someone else’s, there’s a non-zero chance some bitter amateur sleuth will dig up your real life identity and out you to your employer/ brickspace social circle. This is called “doxxing” and it’s easier than ever on the modern internet.

    3. Elephant*

      I agree. I’m a high school teacher and even if my job would never be in jeopardy because my students’ parents are reasonable people, they might think differently of me and interact differently with me if they knew I had an erotic side hustle. As a teacher, relationships are central to what we do! BUT that isn’t true of all jobs that involve working with kids. The nurses at my kid’s pediatrician office are friendly and nice, but they see my kid only occasionally and do not have an ongoing relationship with us. That’s different from a teacher who sees a student every day and whose work is dependent upon having a good relationship with the student and parent. So just consider what your job is and how much your “image” matters in that job. And, as many have said, lock it down on social and get a pen name!

    4. Marthooh*

      I don’t know if it’s the norm, but the norm doesn’t really matter here. All it takes is one parent making a fuss to get the OP in a ton of trouble.

  13. TBS*

    LW 2 – are they printing stuff just for you, or are they printing stuff like an agenda for a group meeting? The former would be strange if you asked them not to repeatedly. But for the latter, if I’m prepping stuff for a group and know I need some hard copies… I probably won’t be taking individual preferences into account and would make sure I have a copy for everyone.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah I was just thinking this. If it’s a 5 person meeting, I’m printing 5 agendas or whatever. I don’t know if everyone needs one, but I just want to make sure anyone who does has one.

    2. LW2*

      It is mostly things just for me. Yesterday I was handed a print out of an email that was also forwarded to me that has absolutely no need to be referred to after being read once, a PDF that was pulled from our system that I can access whenever I need, and two other documents that have nothing to do with my job (it was a particularly busy paper day). They also print agendas and things of that nature but that bothers me far less

      1. JayNay*

        That sounds so odd! You didn’t say this but I’m picturing a generational divide between you and the paper-lovers, is that correct?
        It also sounds weirdly passive-aggressive? Are they worried you won’t attend to their question if it’s only asked electronically?
        At that point I wonder if you can make it a known habit that you will work electronically first, paper last. As in, announce at the next team meeting that you’re getting a lot of requests for assistance and to keep organized you will prioritize the requests that reach you electronically. Then put a tray on your desk as a paper inbox and have your coworkers put all their paper requests there. That visual alone of the paper inbox aka straight-to-trash pipeline might help make your point.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Idk, I’ve always interpreted a paper inbox as meaning “I will check the things in this inbox, please use it.” Unless you immediately trash every paper dropped in the inbox without looking at it, it’s not going to look like a trash pipeline.

          1. Rocket*

            Agreed, I don’t think anybody would see that as a straight to trash pipeline. First of all, I just don’t physically watch what my co-workers do with paper enough. And second paper in boxes are still so normal that I would just assume if you have one, that’s what it is. It’s a paper in box that you use for when people give you paper. Not sure how anybody is supposed to get straight to trash pipeline from that.

      2. JustKnope*

        This is extremely odd behavior. Is it a cultural thing at your office? Or are there a couple of people who are adamant about it?

      3. Batgirl*

        Can you wave it away? I think if you physically refuse to take it from them, it may have more sticking power than “Oh thanks, but like I said, NEVER AGAIN”. For some reason they will still only register that they successfully handed you something they think is useful. I would not touch it, and mentally file it with yourself as: yes, they print out too much and are willing to hand them around, but they aren’t printing it out *for you*; you don’t ever take them! Go with something like: “No thanks, I prefer online versions”.

      4. Slow Gin Lizz*

        That is very odd. Why on earth would anyone think to print an email to give to you that they already sent to you? Perhaps you could ask the person (people?) who are doing that why they do it and then tell them that you prefer they not waste time and resources doing it. This of course would work better if you were higher up than they are; not sure you should do it for a boss but I bet even still you could nicely explain that you are so proficient at finding what you need electronically that it’s completely unnecessary for you to receive a printout.

        Alison and Captain Awkward often suggest saving difficult conversations for after a heated moment has passed, when neither party has their defenses up. While this isn’t all that difficult a conversation, it might be helpful to have it at a time other than when someone is handing you an email that they printed out. YMMV, of course.

      5. Snow Globe*

        That is really odd – even if you preferred hard copies, why would anyone want to take the time to print stuff for their peers and then deliver it to them? And so frequently?

        FWIW, I think I’m the only one in my office that prefers electronic documents, and I’ve definitely gotten some quizzical looks when I tell people that I just write my notes in the electronic doc rather than printing it out and writing my notes on paper, but no one has ever volunteered to print things out for me.

      6. Astrid*

        I think I would have a large box with the words “RECYCLE” written (large and in all caps) on it, next to my desk (after trying all the scripts) and start pointing to it when someone tries to hand me a print out and say “Just put it in there”. I also like the option of refusing to take it. If they put it on your desk anyway, make a point to quickly toss it in your recycle bin while they can see you do it.

      7. Ceiswyn*

        This is definitely where a simple “No, thankyou” may serve you well. You don’t want it, you don’t need it, you don’t have to take it. When you accept the printouts, you indicate that they may be useful.

      8. Everything Bagel*

        Might be easier to give advice with some more context. Did you ask why they print things for you? Is it one person or everyone in the office that does this? Do they not understand how email works? I’d say, “Thanks, Charlie, but we have the emails. Why do you also print them and hand them out?” Maybe having more of a conversation about it will drill into the person(s) heads that it’s unnecessary. Maybe it’s worth bringing up in a staff meeting, mention the redundancy of information and waste of paper. You could start putting the papers in a pile and put a little skeleton doll and cobwebs on top of it, maybe that will send a message!

      9. JB (not in Houston)*

        I don’t know if this would help, but have you tried giving it back to them? Like, if they put it on your desk while you’re there, hand it right back to them. If they leave it on your desk while you aren’t there, take it to their desk and give it back. If they try to hand it to you, do what Batgirl suggested and refuse to take it (with a polite “Oh, no thanks”). If the paper becomes something they have to dispose of, maybe it will stick in their minds?

        There may be nothing you can do, though, because it seems like an office culture thing. The whole thing seems so odd. I am someone who usually prefers to work with paper, but I don’t print my emails and I just cannot imagine printing out an email for someone else. Especially if I’d already forwarded it to them!

        1. TootsNYC*

          this was my thought–if they hand it to you, hand it back immediately. “Oh, I don’t use paper copies, thanks anyway, you can keep this.”

          if they leave it on your desk, deliver it back, “I don’t use paper copies; you can hold onto this if you want.”

      10. Little beans*

        OP Is there any chance you’re missing deadlines or making mistakes? I agree the behavior above sounds weird especially if everyone in your office is doing this to you. Do they all do it to each other, or is it specific to you? The only thing I can think of is that I did have a boss who was so busy that I would sometimes schedule a meeting with her and bring her printouts to get her attention. She received hundreds of emails per day and might not be able to easily find something you sent her even a few days ago.

      11. TootsNYC*

        do they think you’re disorganized, and they’re trying to help, or are making a statement about it?

      12. All Het Up About It*

        Oh, good gravy! A print out of an email you were forwarded? That. Is. The. Worst. I’m having flashbacks to an old boss of mine who would do this sort of thing, instead of you know forwarding me the email. The man also had me print out a physical copy of his outlook calendar, so you know… there were some inefficiencies there.

        I think having the conversation when they are NOT handing you paper is a good idea. If that doesn’t work, you might have to go the route of just not accepting the paper, or getting a recycling bin right next to your desk and just dropping everything they hand you in there, even if they are standing there.

        Another option? Printing a memo that explicitly states that “LW does not wish printed copies of any emails, PDFs, etc. Please no longer print these items for them.” Then you hand deliver it to each offenders desk. But you should probably only do that one in your mind.

      13. CatToys*

        Are you sure it’s just for you? And not for you to do and then hand the copy back to the person to “prove” you did it?

        Some people just can’t grasp the concept they can *search* for things after you send an email to them stating you’ve done *that* thing.

    3. Decima Dewey*

      FWIW, I now feel better about the boss and grandboss who keep forwarding me emails that have already been addressed to me. As in my name was included in the original recipients list. At least they aren’t wasting paper doing this.

  14. Shallow Sky*

    I don’t work with kids, but I do write erotic fiction, and I’ve seen various scandals in the field go down. The keys here:

    1) Don’t post anything that would be illegal, dodgy, or even just generally considered gross if it happened in real life. None of the “barely legal” stuff, nothing dubiously or not consensual, none of the more… out-there kinks. If you can put it at a remove from anything “real” (e.g. setting it in the Magical Land of Amour and having all your characters be elves), that would not be a bad choice.

    2) Never, ever mention the stories to anyone you work with IRL. Friends and family who you trust to be understanding, and who never meet your co-workers, are possibly okay; my family doesn’t know the details, but they know I write and they know there’s some adult content in there. However, I do not work with children. In your situation, I might even advise pretending you don’t write at all.

    3) Never give any information about your real life, even something as vague as “I live in New York City” or “I’m a teacher”, to people who know you as an author. If you get on someone’s bad side, they can collect all the information you’ve ever said and get a lot more than you meant to share. I have seen people I knew lose their RL jobs because someone got in a fight with them, dug up everything they’d ever said about their RL, narrowed down their real identity, and sent their Amazon page to their boss.

    I’m sorry. I wish it wasn’t like this. But there are still people who believe that anyone who works with children shouldn’t be aware of anything children aren’t.

    1. English Rose*

      I agree with your third point especially, Shallow Sky. I know someone who wrote weird horror fiction (not my bag at all but whatever…). He had mostly a very supportive community of other authors and was a bit naive about trust. He did ‘get on the bad side’ of another author and the resulting rows and social flaming really impacted both his privacy and his mental health.

      1. Mongrel*

        Another layer would be to generate a new online persona.
        No identifiable usernames that you may have used previously or based on your favourite media\hometown\school. Make a very generic name or have it closely aligned with the genre
        Keep your location secret or just straight up lie if it’s easier
        Google how to remove EXIF data from pictures, do this with any photos you post online
        Never post the same photo on business & family accounts as services like TinEye can easily connect the two. Same for sharing posts or links.
        I’m sure there’s more but that’s an off the top of my head list

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          Don’t post pictures with anything outdoors at all (power lines, trees, neighbors’ houses, reflections of windows from the glossy front of your microwave or in your glasses or eyes).
          Don’t post pictures with reflections.
          Don’t mention the weather, or the traffic.
          Chain stores are localizable, unless they’re MAYBE McDonald’s and Starbucks. But if you mention “a McDonald’s in Alaska where the house next door is torturing an effigy of Ronald McDonald”, I will know exactly where you are and so might at least 30,000 others.
          Don’t have the same best friends.
          Absolutely don’t reveal a birthday or age in any detail further than “0ver 18”.
          (Those last two are how a friend and I realized that so-and-so’s pseudonymous BFF was *also* notable niche genre author X; we have not done anything with that information because we are not that kind of jerk. They later made the birthday information private.)

      2. I edit everything*

        That can happen no matter how careful you are to keep your lives separate. Someone flaming your pseudonym doesn’t hurt any less.

        1. TrixM*

          Not that much different personally, sure, but the idea is to prevent spillover from happening in the rest of your life. Especially if you do have a “real” job or have school-age kids.
          One of my favourite actors has taken a noticeable step back from work with the kind of moderately out-there characters she was known for. It’s a shame for many of her fans, but since her kids are more in their teens, it’s very very understandable. I certainly hope those kids don’t come across the idea of “fanfiction” any time soon.
          Naturally successful actors are more in the public eye, but don’t forget the hell of G@mer-g@te, which blew up because one awful guy decided to dox his ex-girlfriend. No-one had heard of either party outside of pretty limited geek circles, but you never know what might go viral. Unless you’re rich enough to not worry about your job, I understand why people wouldn’t want their business exposed everywhere.
          I write fanfiction myself, which is very explicit and moderately kinky. While my colleagues would not care at all if they came across it and knew it was mine, I would be mortified. I also know there would be one or two individuals in the division who would not hesitate spread it around to point and laugh at it. I wouldn’t get fired, but it would undermine my authority among certain staff members.

    2. LiptonT4me*

      It sounds more like anyone who works with children shouldn’t have a life outside of that….and yes I know, political climate. Just infuriates me is all.

  15. Global Cat Herder*

    OP2, I have a colleague who takes out his phone and takes a picture of any papers he’s given, then hands the paper back. “Thanks I’ve scanned it so I can find it later.” He says he starts to get fewer papers since the people who printed it have to take care of throwing it away. A physical version of “return awkward to sender.”

    1. Sleepy cat*

      I was coming here to suggest this – just keep giving the print-outs back to people.

    2. LW2*

      This is actually very smart. I will have to try it. Especially because so much of it needs to get shredded and can’t just be tossed easily

      1. Lyudie*

        So wait, they are unnecessarily printing confidential/sensitive/etc stuff?? I wonder if you could use an argument about security or legal issues to get them to knock it off?

        1. Janet*

          That was the most annoying thing when I had print-happy coworkers. They did mean well, but I couldn’t throw the proprietary stuff into the recycle bin, and until I could properly dispose of it I was required to store it in a locked cabinet.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Okay – that makes it even more confusing. Is there a way to make it harder for people to easily place papers that you don’t want or need on your desk? And yeah – maybe keep returning the papers to deliverer. Maybe if it’s their problem to get things appropriately disposed of it will decrease the printing.

    3. Arrghhhhh*

      I previously had a coworker who would type up an email, print it out and send it to me via intercompany mail instead of sending me the email. After one too many times of this and him ignoring requests to just send the email, I wrote my response on the print out, scanned it back to him via email, tore the piece of paper he sent to me into pieces and sent him that back via intercompany mail. He stopped sending me intercompany mail and switched to sending me emails after that.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        What on earth?? That’s so bizarre that he would do such a thing! Was this in the early days of email or more recently?

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I previously had a coworker who would type up an email, print it out and send it to me via intercompany mail instead of sending me the email.

        A memo. This is a memo.

      3. A.N. O'Nyme*

        …Did he do this to anyone else that you know of? Because that is just bizarre.

    4. sswj*

      Yup, that was more or less my thought. Look briefly at it and then hand it back saying you’ve already got that in your files.

      It’s even better if you can glance at it while it’s still in their hand and avoid taking it at all. Just “Oh, thanks, but I don’t need that” and on to the next thing. And now it’s their problem.

    5. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Yes, I think actually handing the paper back is the key. Maybe you could add a cheery, “No printouts for me, thanks—you can’t crtl-F dead trees!” (Replace “crtl-F” with “grep” if your office is nerdy enough, but if they’re printing out emails I’m guessing they aren’t that nerdy.) But making the printer dispose of the paper—and showing that this isn’t just a preference thing for the future but something you mean right now—might help.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        The printing out and delivering emails is what really confuses me. That’s probably where I would start my root cause analysis – why do the printers think they need to print and deliver these things – but only if you have the spare time. Root cause analysis may help come up some other strategies to stop the unnecessary printing.

  16. Not Australian*

    LW4, after 10+ years in niche publishing I can honestly tell you that keeping your identity secret is likely to be less of a problem than getting your author name known well enough to achieve a level of sales that would justify your effort; marketing and discoverability are by far the biggest hurdles for a newcomer to overcome, and even some of the biggest publishers are crashing and burning in spectacular fashion. My best advice is to thoroughly research your market, attend events and try to make some contacts so that you can pitch in person and create a relationship with a publisher. Only self-publish if you’re prepared to spend more time publicising and marketing your work than you ever do writing it; IMHO these are specialist skills that are all too easily forgotten in the creative frenzy.

    And no, I’m afraid I don’t have any contacts now; I’m retired.

  17. Shara*

    LW4 – I think if you want to write it, you should. However, please be careful to prepare for backlash if people find out. Especially if you’re writing during downtime while watching kids (like if they’re napping or anything).

    I would imagine the biggest conclusion people might jump to is that you’re thinking sexual thoughts while around the kids.

    You probably wouldn’t be, but…

    1. ecnaseener*

      I would go so far as to say just don’t write it while at work. Way too easy for someone to walk by and see.

      1. KateM*

        Helloo, setting aside children seeing, haven’t we had “you shouldn’t do your side hustle during the time your main job is paying you” discussions enough??

        1. ecnaseener*

          I’m saying even on a break, even in downtime moments when it’d be fine to read a book or check your emails or do work for your Etsy store, don’t run the risk of being caught writing erotica.

  18. Browneyedgirl*

    I write erotic romance, and I would say the same as others have said – use a pen name and keep it very quiet.

    I don’t work with children so it’s less of an issue for me, but I have had trouble with a stalker in the past (after I had an article published in Mensa magazine, and their response was “Well, you’re a sex worker, it’s your fault!”) If I wrote crime I wouldn’t be a criminal, but people have weird attitudes towards erotica.

    1. Starbuck*

      Same. It’s sad to see so many people chiming in to say “don’t write anything illegal or too risque in your *erotica* novel” when the same standard never seems to apply for other genres (no one accuses you of condoning murder if you write a murder mystery or even a fantasy novel where your protagonist happens to kill someone). Not to say it isn’t smart advice for someone who works with kids given how deranged people can react, but it’s just so whack.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, the problem with writing romance or erotica as a genre is that people are VERY rabid about people (mostly women) who make money off anything that could be connected to sex. So you have to take way more precautions than if you write any other genre. Especially if you are a racial, religious or ethnic minority, or if you’re queer, neurodiverse, or disabled.

      2. Gothic Bee*

        I fully agree, it’s sad to see. And to add to your point I have actually seen a fair number of horror authors get flack for what they write. And dark romance authors (which obviously has a lot of overlap with erotica and also sometimes overlaps with horror or thriller genres). And that’s not even touching on what happens when those books are queer. I feel like there’s a fuzzy line there and when you write something that’s seen as too far out of the “norm”, then certain purity culture types get upset about it. They decide that because your book contains weird and/or illegal stuff you must want people to do those things in real life which is a bizarre way to think about writing fiction.

      3. Nameless in Customer Service*

        Absolutely. Fiction can be a good place to explore the taboo, such as consent and the lack thereof, except that people insist on interpreting having created or read fiction about taboo subjects as a desire to implement those subjects IRL. The logic breaks down when one thinks about it but so many people still believe in that equation.

  19. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    I’ll never understand why some people are so concerned about what people who work with children do in their private lives. People are allowed to let off steam outside of work for goodness sake.

    1. yikez*

      Because many of them view people who work with children as “the help”, and therefore they aren’t human.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I recommend the movie Inside Out for a good rundown on disgust and the role it plays in our psyche. (Protecting us from ingesting dangerous food or ideas, as Disgust explains.) And disgust has some strong transitive properties, where the thing that touched the thing is now also disgusting.

      I’m all for letting teachers have private lives. But I don’t think it helps to pretend that it’s nigh inconceivable that some people would find erotica touches teacher touches my kid to induce some unpleasant knee jerk reactions. And for those of us who are sincerely chill at one level, you can probably escalate the icky thing until it reaches a level where we’re having some visceral reactions to the idea of “contamination” by touching something that touched it, whatever our executive function says about our hypothetical principles.

      1. Allonge*

        Just for the record: I never heard of this extra expectation towards teachers (pretend you are not a human who has a life with adult things in it) in my country. So it’s very much possible to keep this to a reasonable level.

        Yes, people get weird mental associations. The correct response is to use the rational brain, figure out that yes, the fact that a teacher reads erotica or has a beer has zero impact on my child, and leave it there.

        1. BethDH*

          And that is a good reminder that disgust, while visceral, is culturally specific. Food is the easiest example. I don’t know if you intended to imply that because disgust about this is not present in your country that it doesn’t “really exist,” but that’s how it came across to me.
          Falling Dipthong’s point that people who think they are okay with things often have a visceral response once it touches their life is important for OP to consider. Think of families that are “okay” with people who are gay but then melt down when it’s their kid.

          1. Anon all day*

            Yeahhh. Expecting cultural ideas to go away as long as people just behave “rationally” is,well, not rational.

          2. Non-American*

            Yes. I’m an outside observer, and I’ve noticed that America in particular has a strong streak of ‘purity’ culture (and not just in the conservative religious people) which includes the idea that some things are good and others are bad and that that property of badness can be transferred by association, and that even a little bit of badness can spoil a thing irredeemably. This line of thinking is not really a thing in a lot of other countries and it took me a while to understand it. A lot of things made sense when I did!

            1. Starbuck*

              Sadly yes we have a culture that’s still heavily influenced by Puritanism in a lot of ways. It sucks.

            2. Batgirl*

              The extra-expectations of teachers thing is alive and well in Britain too! But it’s something I wasn’t aware of until I became a teacher. In training I was told about a teacher who was disciplined for going to a pole dancing class at a hen party after the pictures went on social media. Simply for wearing gym clothes and being in the vicinity of a pole. Two male trainees got fired after going to the beach with beers; they ran into some students in bikinis who wanted a picture and when said pictures surfaced, they got sacked. It was widely accepted that the incident was totally innocent but the optics were criminally stupid. People forget that teachers are 50 per cent actors and that our image matters if we are going to do our job well. It’s not even the parents who are the biggest issue. If you’re trying to get through to a rebellious teenager then you can bet your boots that very teenager will try to get dirt on you and toss it back your way making it twice as hard as it would be otherwise. In my last school students signed up for Tinder, so they could see if any teachers nearby were also on it using the geographical settings. I would never make an issue for my child’s teacher, I would correct my child if they were making an issue for the teacher, but I would also tell new teachers to lock their pictures and online persona down, thoroughly and well. It’s just common sense.

              1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                Agree with this 100%. Here in Canada, I don’t know of anyone who has been disciplined for being in a picture with a beer, but we hear enough coming up from our neighbours that a lot of us feel it’s better to be cautious. It’s also very true that teens loooove to google their teachers. Our staff have all been checking our privacy settings since a group of eighth grader went wild searching us on line a few months ago. Nothing scandalous was found, but even having kids peppering you with questions about 100% innocuous on-line activity is a lot.

    3. Shiba Dad*

      I agree that folks with work with kids are entitled to their private lives. That said, there is a fear that private lives will bleed into their work and influence the kids. I don’t have (human) children, but I wouldn’t care if someone who wrote erotic fiction was around my brother’s kids. However, change that from “erotic fiction” to “white supremacist literature” and that is a different story.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yeah, think of something you genuinely find morally repugnant. Torturing animals maybe-we can all agree that’s awful. Even if it never came up in school, even if it never affected your kid at all, would you be ok with their teacher doing nasty things to small animals in their spare time? I certainly wouldn’t.

        There is a pretty strong disagreement over whether stuff like erotica is morally repugnant, but I think expecting people who work with your kids to follow moral boundaries in their private life is pretty universal.

        1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

          The problem though, comes from the fact that teachers are held to a much stricter moral boundary than anyone else.
          If I’m fine with Betty from Bookclub taking a picture in Germany holding two beers, but I get into a moral tizzy because Terry the Teacher does the same thing- I’m being unreasonable.
          If its something I truly find morally repugnant I will have a problem with it no matter what context I know the person. For example, I would have a problem with Rasputin the Rabbit Torturer whether he was teaching math or playing volleyball.

        2. Nameless in Customer Service*

          Being common and being fair aren’t the same thing, though — I could list a bunch of once near-universal ideas that I’d hope most of us would find wrong nowadays. There are not a few people who think consuming or producing erotica, even just written, is as bad as murder — I was told so in church as a child, I think they’re objectively wrong and shouldn’t be able to inflict such an expectation on teachers’ private lives, but right now in the US at least, they pretty much can.

          1. quill*

            That and many atrocities have been justified by the people who commit them as “moral” – see the entire history of US expansion, because of course some people at the time made the argument that destroying cultures, stealing land, and committing genocide was OK if it forced some people to convert to Christianity. We can’t trust the public’s common consensus on what is “moral”, we need some sort of objective standard on whether an action does harm, or people will continue trying to get teachers fired because of how they dressed during non-school hours, having been seen consuming alcohol in public, etc. It would certainly help if local governments and school boards were less of disasters, too.

  20. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    OP#2: I kind of got the impression from this letter that perhaps your colleagues are concerned you aren’t remembering important information? During my training at my first “Professional job” many moons ago, my trainers were frustrated that I was asking the same question repeatedly, and made a point of printing off instructions off for me because they thought it might mean I could find the answers easier/save time for them. Is this possible in your case? Or are they just giving you random print-outs unprompted? I would check that you are looking up info before asking anyone (though it might be easier/faster to ask) . Or they could just be of the paper generation as others have suggested. Good luck :)

    1. LW2*

      It is a range of items that get printed. And most of it isn’t actually related to my job so I don’t feel it is likely because I’m missing something (the worst of the paper people and I also have a good enough working relationship that she would have said something by now). I do have a feeling it’s a generational difference.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Let’s not get into age. I’m a technical writer who’s nearly 60 and my work is 100 percent electronic. Company rules for remote work don’t allow me to connect to a printer except in the office, and then you have to enter a key code which records the output.

        I think it’s more about company culture. Yours is comfortable with printing; mine discourages it.

        1. JSPA*

          Then you (& me too) are old enough to remember when paper was the only option. And thus should understand that the sort of person who defaults to “how people did it when I started out” will have broadly different defaults.

          Something doesn’t have to be an uncrossable chasm between groups to be a correlated characteristic.

        2. Janet*

          I’m even older, and I hate paper. Everything is on the computer or our cloud storage.
          So no, not all older folks print everything. A whole lot do, though. I haven’t seen this constant printing from my coworkers in their 20’s and 30’s. Only middle-aged and up.

          Thank heavens most of them are retired now.

        3. TechWriter*

          I think there’s an intersection of age and profession here.
          As tech writers, how people access information is often at the forefront of our minds. We know modern users don’t typically sit down and read a physical manual anymore, and we are intimately aware of how much easier it is to find things in digital format! It’s our job to adapt to new learning and information consumption styles. Someone whose job is not that… is maybe not as in-tune. Especially if they established their work habits before everything went digital.

          (I’m a weird bridge here; in university, my peers were starting to use laptops for notes. I still preferred hand-written ones, even with my atrocious hand writing. When I started my job, I used a physical notebook to take actual notes in in-person meetings. But still didn’t have hard copies of any of the docs we wrote or worked one! Now a decade later, we don’t have an office anymore, and I couldn’t imagine bothering with paper notes.)

        4. Charlotte*

          Both can be true at the same time. It can be a generational thing in LW2’s office (if only older people are doing this) AND it can be true that not all older people prefer paper.

      2. doreen*

        It may or not be a generational difference ( I’m 58 and spent a good part of the last few years telling people much younger than me to send reports electronically) , but if you think it might be and multiple people are printing documents for you , that suggests that your preference is not universal. Unless you’re the boss, it’s unrealistic to expect people to remember everyone’s individual preferences. My last manager had some issues about certain things – for example, even once my agency set up electronic signatures she would not accept them. I had to print out the report and sign it in ink. She would then sign it in ink and then have her secretary scan it and send it wherever – which kind of defeated the purpose of the electronic signature. She was my boss, so I had to remember – but I certainly didn’t know/remember everyone else’s preferences and I didn’t expect everyone to remember mine. So I didn’t get annoyed when for example, the office EAP rep printed and distributed paper copies of a flyer, brochure or memo that I had already received electronically from the EAP coordinator. Which reminds me – what do you mean by “not actually related to your job” ? Do you mean the items are related to your employment but not the actual work you do ( like the EAP things I mentioned) ? Or do you mean that they are just items you shouldn’t be receiving at all, either on paper or electronically?

  21. R*

    “The Cinnamon Toast Alliance? I hear you have to put in a lot of long hours.”
    “Yeah there’s a lot of crunch.”

  22. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW 4, I can’t speak for working with children and a lot there also depends on your area and what you’ll be writing specifically, but I can speak for writing: make sure writing erotica is something you really want to do. In my experience erotica readers are a bit like punk people: they are really really good at figuring out who is faking it for the money and who isn’t.

    1. Brightwanderer*

      Yes, I was coming here to say this – have you written erotica before LW4? Is it something you enjoy in its own right? I think a lot of people really underestimate what it is that makes erotica readers (or any other genre, but particularly erotica and romance) keep coming back for more. It can all look very formulaic and paint-by-numbers from the outside, but like any other genre there are cliches and tropes that have been done to death, and others that put people off, and without being a reader of it yourself you’re unlikely to end up writing something that gets interest. And particularly given the concern about your work – I’d be asking myself if it was worth it tbh.

      (Of course, I am also aware that you might well be someone who already reads/writes erotica – original or fan fiction – and has just realised there’s a bigger market for it! But if it’s not already a passion for you, or at least something you enjoy for its own sake, I’d be cautious.)

      1. Brightwanderer*

        Oh and re: the actual question – people shouldn’t care but I think unfortunately there’s a high chance they will. Personally I would lean into the secrecy and gleefully create an entire secret identity for myself and tell no-one until/unless I got successful enough to make it my main career. Plenty of erotica writers have gone that route in times when their “reputation” would have been damaged by being open about it.

      2. Brightwanderer*

        Okay, last comment – just some tips for maintaining anonymity.
        1. If you end up registering a web domain, be aware that by default these require a name an address which can be looked up on a WHOIS query. Many hosting companies however provide a service where they obscure your details.
        2. Don’t link your real life social media to your writing at all. Create new accounts with a different email address – the social media sites are constantly pushing to try and make more connections via things like email matching and you can’t be sure you’ve opted out of everything.
        3. In general, approach the creation of your pseudonym as if you were using the internet for the very first time and had to go through the process of setting up accounts for things. Try not to associate any of your current accounts/details with the new stuff, because sometimes even if you change it later there can be a paper trail.
        4. For financial stuff, set up a Paypal Business account under your pseudonym. You will have to still provide them with your real name (please do not commit fraud) but a business account obscures that information from people who interact with it, so you can use your pseudonym as your “business name”.
        5. The above point is important if you use sites like Ko-fi, Patreon, or the paypal donation button, because otherwise people can end up seeing your real name when sending money.
        6. Absolutely don’t mention that you have a secret writer identity to ANYONE outside your very close family/friends – even if you’re being careful about telling them WHAT you write – because I guarantee the mystery of it will entice people to try and track you down otherwise.
        7. All that said, your goal isn’t really total anonymity – it’s to make sure that if someone googles your real name, and someone else googles your penname, there is no overlap between the results. You probably can’t protect yourself from someone determined to doxx you, but your biggest concern is more likely to be someone accidentally stumbling across it and either getting outraged or spreading it around until it reaches people who will get outraged.

  23. Turingtested*

    LW 1, I was recently the only woman in a meeting of men where one of them meant to discuss “poutine” but instead said an extremely crass term for female genitals. It was obvious that he wasn’t trying to be provocative and his general humor is very PG.

    I’d apologize but if you’ve never said anything crude before and don’t say anything crude in the future you should be fine. People make mistakes.

    What you don’t want to do is over apologize. One time and scrupulously appropriate behavior afterwards. I say this because sometimes creeps will use the apology as an excuse to keep being creepy, not that I think that’s you’re intent.

      1. Turingtested*

        OMG it was funny! Especially when someone said “What?!?” and he responded “XXX-the famous Canadian dish!”

        1. TechWriter*

          Oh that’s good!

          Being Canadian and bilingual, I get a kick out of when anglos try to pronounce it with a nasal vowel. It comes out sounding like how ‘putain’ is pronounced, which is a derogetory word for a ‘lady of the night’.

          (Pronounced correctly, there is no nasal vowel, and the N is pronounced like a regular N. In a French Canadian accent, you get something like poo-tin or poo-tsin, emphasis on the tin. In a France French accent you’d get more like the English pronunciation, poo-teen. So I have to give credit, while giggling internally, to all those “took French in high school” folks who see an N and try for the nasal, my spouse and mother included.)

    1. Atalanta*

      I was starting a new job at a NOC the same day as another new (male) coworker. I’m female and it’s not uncommon for me to be the only woman in the room in my field but it occasionally makes my coworkers brain to mouth filter short out. We were being introduced around the building and not thinking, the TechOps manager introduced us as the “new NOCers”. He was horrified by what he said and very quickly apologized, which I accepted once I was able to stop laughing and catch my breath. Ten years later it’s a running joke and a funny story.

      More then likely a sincere apology and moving on will be enough to move past foot and mouth awkwardness if you’re working with reasonable people. As long as it’s a one time thing, it won’t be a big deal in the long run.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the apology is important here because he’s still making a first impression. Boss doesn’t know him well enough to theorize “Wow, OP accidentally said that phrase instead of the normal one he meant, and he was confused when I laughed, and obviously he is of purer mind than myself.”

      The apology is going to be awkward, but an awkward “So I realized I used the wrong phrase for “milk the cow” and I googled what I said, and OH MY WORD that was not my intent, I’m so sorry. That is not my type of humor at all” is better than leaving the impression that that is your idea of a casual conversational reference.

      I agree re not over apologizing. One time, and then don’t make a similar mistake again soon.

      1. M. McDonaugh*

        Laughable that it’s considered ok to use the phrase ‘milk the cow’. Now THAT could be considered offensive to some (including myself, once I thought about it)
        Perhaps get used to saying something more neutral like ‘let’s not try to draw anymore water from that well’ or ‘let’s stop trying to squeeze blood from that stone’ instead?
        You never know how your words can be interpreted by by someone you don’t know very well.

        1. yala*

          I mean. You milk cows. That’s what you do with them. There’s nothing particularly inappropriate about that.

          *stroking* something, on the other hand…

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was trying to say “genetic” once but the only word that would come out was “genital.”

    4. LW1*

      Thanks – what I didn’t articulate well in the letter is that I don’t want to force my boss to experience sexualized discomfort again by bringing it up to apologize, if it was very uncomfortable for her. I appreciate your perspective that a one-time acknowledgement is going to sit differently than a repeated re-living of the moment.

      Related – your story reminded me of my past humiliation from middle school that I had forgotten when I mispronounced “aurora borealis” and it came out as “areola” which, though anatomical and not really crass, was very embarrassing in class.

      Bigger lesson here is maybe I should slow down when speaking.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I would mention it once so she knows that you know it wasn’t appropriate, but focus on what you *meant* to say instead of what you did say. Something like, “I just wanted to say that I am sorry if I made you uncomfortable earlier–I meant to use the phrase ‘milking that cow’ but misspoke and I want to assure you I would not intentionally use inappropriate slang at the office. It won’t happen again!”

        I am sure she was a bit uncomfortable, but at the end of the day I’m sure she will forget all about this–probably long before you will because our brains love to torture us over our own mistakes. Sorry for your embarrassment! But I am sure this will not be a big deal for her as long as you continue to behave and speak professionally at work and it will be obvious that this was an error and not an indication of how you plan on speaking to your boss going forward!

      2. JimmyJab*

        This reminds me of when my high school physics classmate said “impotence” instead of “impedence” and didn’t get why it was funny for a mo.

      3. sb51*

        That’s one reason I’d personally do it via text rather than in-person; she can avoid having to control what her face is doing etc.

    5. Generic Name*

      The difference in your situation and the LW’s is that you knew your colleague and LW is just getting to know their boss. I think LW should apologize once and then plan to really self-monitor how they phrase things at least in the near future.

    6. MissMeghan*

      As a recipient of a mistake like this I have to say the apology really helped dispel any awkwardness after hearing it. The power dynamic was a bit different as I was new and he was a superior, but he came back and said “I learned the meaning of what I said earlier and I’m a bit mortified. I hope I didn’t make things weird.” Short and sweet and we both laughed. He’d meant to refer to storing a cache of loot you’ve won but instead of saying something like dragon’s hoard he said glory hole. I looked a bit shocked when he said it and afterward someone else explained his mistake to him. It was helpful to clear the air and prevent awkwardness.

      It helps if you prep a nice normal outro comment for after the apology so you can leave the conversation on a nice normal tone, like an easy observation about the weather.

      1. raktajino*

        That explanation also makes clear that the dirty phrase was new to him, which has a gloss of innocence over the whole thing. I couldn’t possibly have used the phrase *intentionally*, I had never heard it before in my innocent little life. Or maybe you risk come across as protesting too much?

    7. PhyllisB*

      That reminds me of the time my son-in-law asked me if I had ever made “nookie”. After my initial shock and quelling the urge to laugh, I said, “I believe that’s pronounced gnocchi.” He was mortified when he realized what he said.

    8. Raspin*

      I used to vanpool with a guy whose primary language was not English. One night on the way home he said, ” I said something in a meeting today and I think it was wrong based on the reaction I got. But no one would tell me why. Will you?” I asked him what he said and it was “my boss really went down on my yesterday.” After I stopped laughing, I told him that he wanted to say “came down on me.” Of course he then wanted to know why it was wrong and was totally mortified when I explained the colloquialism.

    9. SLG*

      I once had a direct report who, while sitting with me in a meeting room, meant to text me a photo related to a discussion we were having in the office. She accidentally selected the wrong image and sent me a meme having to do with “my illness is chronic but my t*ts are iconic.” She was incredibly mortified. I thought the meme itself was hilarious and did everything I could to reassure her that I wasn’t offended, and got back to the work-related discussion as quickly as I could.

      I think the key was that by that point I knew her, it was the only time that happened, and she made clear that it was unintentional. So LW1, I think you’ll be fine as long as you give a brief and sincere apology along the lines of “I’ve realized I accidentally said something totally NSFW, I had no idea at the time, I’m mortified, and I’m so sorry. Now, now about those TPS reports…” and then keep it professional and polite from there on out.

      1. SLG*

        I should note that we are both female and I briefly mentioned that I had some personal connection to chronic illness, so my laughter had some context and allowed us to quickly move past the meme and back into safe-for-work territory.

  24. Tabby Mac*

    I brought out my *very* dark (people use its warning blurb as a recommendation…) fiction novel when I was teaching in a prison and also running kids’ creative workshops. It became wildly popular, but a pen name and an entirely different social media account kept me watertight. It also helped keep plenty of water between my two different personas, and inadvertently created a useful ‘brand’ when I eventually went full-time freelance.

  25. yikez*

    LW 2: “Thanks for printing this out, but in the interest of moving in a more green/ecofriendly direction let’s reduce the number of printouts.”

    Even better if your company already has some kind of green initiative, and if not, maybe start one?

  26. Anonymous for this one.*

    #3 I’d be inclined to ask the person who handles web stuff first, as the president is already known to be toxic.

    #4 I faced this exact question and ultimately decided not to write the erotic fiction as the risk to the day job was too great. The pseudonym and the never mentioning it take care of part of the problem, but ultimately, how do you get paid without using your real name?

    1. Ddd*

      I was wondering about your last question (being paid anonymously) and it looks like Brightwanderer’s comments up above have some how-to’s on that!

  27. Blisskrieg*

    LW#3–you mention you are a non-profit. Do you have a board? If I were a board member I would want to know that the public is being misled to such a degree about the stability of the key positions. (You would think they would be on the website periodically, but maybe not).

    Maybe that’s not the first line of defense depending on the politics or the priorities (getting your own picture down vs. seeing an org you care about be straightforward with the public), but if the president balks at all, it might be something to consider.

  28. Shiba Dad*

    LW#3 – Hanlon’s razor could be in play here. Whomever edits the website may not know you and these other folks are no longer there. Or they haven’t had a chance to make the changes because they have a million and six other things to do.

    1. ecnaseener*

      If not for the fact that new people have been added in the meantime, I would agree they just hadn’t gotten around to it. It’s still possible the director just forgot when he was putting in other requests, but seems unlikely that he’s never actually looked at the page when getting those new people added.

  29. Catherine DeVore*

    Lw4, I’m a published erotica writer who used to keep up with my catalog but after a job change, I haven’t had the time or drive to publish anything new. I still get a few sales here and there but you have to publish A LOT to get any real momentum and even then it is not guaranteed. You also can’t just go through Amazon if you want to make money, you need to know all the platforms.

    However I would also like to brag that one of my titles, “Abraham Lincoln: Ninja F#€<master" was mentioned on the Colbert Report a million years ago. I have never been so proud haha! (However even that resulted in maybe a $100 surge in sales for a month! It is a competitive market!)

  30. BalanceofThemis*

    LW1: Funny story, the first time I ever heard “stroking the goat” I was living in the Middle East. There was a local who I was in a couple classes with who loved to use American idioms. He had relatives in the US and had spent a bunch of time here, so he knew them.

    He also thought it was the height of comedy to get them wrong when talking to Americans. He used stroking the goat, instead of milking the cow, but he didn’t know it had a filthy meaning either.

    Side note, you never realize how much we rely on idioms until you are somewhere where no one understands them.

  31. AnonyNurse*

    LW2 — At Old Job, I inherited a filing system that was based entirely on whether something was stapled or paper clipped. It was so ridiculous. She was typing notes into an electronic system … and printing them. For no reason but she didn’t seem to ‘trust’ that they’d still be there later. It was a nightmare because these were health records that had to be retained for 75 years so having them on paper resulted in whole file cabinets for no reason. Within a month, I had us off paper entirely. Within a year, we’d scanned in any hand written notes and been able to shred the paper versions that were relatively recent. (The stuff before anything was digitized still just sits in the file cabinets for 75 years)…

    1. Quidge*

      I had a temp job in higher ed where I inherited a drawer full of emails. And scans of IDs my predecessor shouldn’t have a copy of, let alone in an unlocked drawer in a reception area of a publicly-accessible building! I shredded at least 12 pages with nothing printed on them except “Please Do Not Print This Email.” Arggh!!!

      Inexplicably, the same person used email drafts to document important work processes. Which there was a big binder for, filled with print-outs.

      I still cannot understand how they managed to function well enough to interview for and get that job, but it does explain how ridiculously grateful all my co-workers were while I was there…

      1. Pippa K*

        I used to have a very senior professor colleague whose tiny office had a wall of large filing cabinets filled with every email he had every received. (Mind you, he didn’t print them out himself. He had the secretary do that.)

        1. WindmillArms*

          Ay my first office job, the filing cabinet in the desk was full of paper files–of dating profiles. My predecessor seemed to be printing out the appealing profiles. Incredibly weird.

  32. Person from the Resume*

    For LW#2, the best way to get it across is not to take the paper, refuse it. If they leave it on your desk, return it to them at their desk. If you’re holding it in your hand and they refuse to take it back, throw it in recycling/trash in front of them.

    Don’t necessarily do this with agendas for meetings or things printed as group handouts, but just toss it as you leave the room. Don’t take it back with you.

    1. Xaraja*

      Yep, that was my thought. When they try to hand it to you, hold up your hands, palms out, shake your head, and say, “No thank you, i don’t use paper.”

  33. Lacey*

    OP #3 – Is it possible they just don’t update their website very often? I was on my old company’s site for a year or so after I left. I don’t think they were trying to hide the wildly high turnover rate – I know that their website guy left right around the time I did!

    Eventually they built a new site and I was not on it.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I still think it is likelier to be an error though. When new people are onboarded there are likely a whole bunch of processes and announcements and when people leave it is usually a much quieter process. So I think it is possible and even probable that there could be a process in place where information about new hires gets sent to someone to add them to the website, but then nothing is generated to indicate a person needs to be *removed.*

    1. Another person again*

      Even though this doesn’t seem to be the case for the LW I think it’s not uncommon for web updates to fall through the cracks. I’m still listed on the website of the place I left a year ago – along with someone who left in early 2020 and an intern from 2019 – and that’s just from our team. But the head of the division got updated in 2021, so someone noticed and took action on that!

      I don’t really care but I think if someone does, it’s completely appropriate to ask for a change and keep following up until it gets done.

  34. KT*

    #4, my side hustle is as an author and I have some erotica but transitioned to romance of various genres. If you use a pen name for your writing then you should be able to keep your real identity secret. Some difficulties that may arise though is in claiming your books as the author on Goodreads (it links your personal account to the book) and starting newsletters (you often need to provide your real name and a business address to get an account and in some jurisdictions these details must be added to the bottom of email newsletters by the newsletter company). It might be worth doing a Google and FB search for author groups so you can see what other authors have experienced. In general though, if you’re careful then you should be OK but before you try something new, e.g. starting ad accounts, double check with others to see what info is revealed.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m not sure what you mean by “newsletter company” other than email hosting service, but I’m on several author newsletters who use their pen name and a PO box for the return address.

      If there’s a service that requires real-name disclosure, I wouldn’t think they’d have many author clients.

    2. SLG*

      For those in the US, the CAN-SPAM Act requires that any mass email include the physical mailing address of the sender. I don’t know if mailing lists under a certain size are exempt, but that regulation is why newsletter companies require an address.

  35. Helvetica*

    LW#1 – am I the only one who has never heard the term? Maybe your boss also hadn’t and reacted because she wasn’t sure what to say but I would definitely laugh if I heard something a bit bizarre, and not know what it means. It is in any case probably best to apologise in case she did know it but colloquialisms can be hard!

    1. MicroManagered*

      I’d never heard it either, but I think it’s pretty obvious what it means. If she’s ever heard any of the other variations (choke the chicken, etc.) she knew what it meant.

      1. LW1*

        Choke the chicken?! Well I’m glad I didn’t blurt that one out.

        @Helvetica, you could be right but my gut instinct from her reaction was that she was uncomfortable which is the only reason I even thought about it again.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        I’ve heard of choke the chicken, but never stroke the goat. If someone said that to me, I would be confused because I would have no idea what that phrase is supposed to be, especially in the context of a conversation where the meaning wouldn’t have made any sense.

    2. doreen*

      I hadn’t ever heard it before – but I also didn’t need to Google it to know what it meant. I might possibly laugh uncomfortably depending on the situation. It’s definitely best to apologize – but I’m a little uncertain about the apology including a statement that the LW didn’t know what the phrase meant. It doesn’t seem like someone meaning to use the “cow” expression would accidentally use the “goat” one without having heard it before – and it’s not necessarily much better to have used a phrase that you didn’t actually know the meaning of.

      I remember myself and a female co-worker having to explain the meaning of an expression to our male boss ( it referred to grabbing part of the foot). I am certain he truly didn’t know the meaning of the expression – but it was so commonly used by the population we served that it would have looked bad if he had used it in a conversation with his bosses and later explained he didn’t know what it actually meant and when he used it , he just thought it meant something bad was going to happen. It would have been better for him to explain it as a slip of the tongue and I wonder if the same might be true for the LW

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      It was a new one on me, (not sure whether it’s just not a common expression here in the UK?) but I could have a pretty good guess at the meaning.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You are not the only one, by any means.

      I think the ability to google things gives a distorted impression of how common or widely known a phrase may be.

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      Yeah, that’s a new one on me. In the original context, I’d’ve thought it an awkward reference to milking. In the current context, I’ve got a pretty good guess at the meaning.

      Tangentially, I’ve wondered for decades how the censors missed the meaning of Jed Clampett’s reference to a “stump-broke cow.” That’s NSFW, too.

  36. Oakwood*

    Stacey Abrams, who came within a hair of winning the Georgia governorship, writes erotic fiction under a pen name.

  37. anonymous73*

    “Please stop printing things out for me” and then hand the paper back to the person who printed it.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      This. If they haven’t gotten the point up until now, this should do it.

      If you want to be milder, just “Oh, you can put that in recycling. I don’t need it.”

  38. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    LW #2: If they hand you a printed copy, read it and hand it back. If they want to have paper references, that’s fine, but you are not obligated to do the same … and you are not obligated to accept it into your workspace if you didn’t ask for it.

    “Thanks, I’ll bookmark it now on my computer, so you can have it back.”

  39. MicroManagered*

    LW1 I thought I knew every variation of that expression, but “stroke the goat” is a new one. It’s probably worth looking at how often you use these types of expressions in your life outside of work and whether you can find other ways of expressing yourself to help form a new habit.

    I don’t mean that to shame you… Rather, I say that as a person who has had to make a deliberately remove certain words and expressions from her vocabulary so that I didn’t say them in mixed company/work accidentally.

      1. Oryx*

        I mean, it’s really not.

        Romance requires a Happily Ever After and the relationship needs to be the focus of the story. It can run the spectrum from zero sex scenes to very explicit.

        In Erotica, the focus is on the sexual relationship or sexual discovery and no HEA is required.

        There is a romance subgenre of erotic romance, but it still follows those beats of a romance with an HEA. A book having sex scenes does not automatically make it erotica.

        1. I edit everything*

          Agree. Romance is about the MCs emotional connection and growth. Erotica is about the physical. Sure, there’s overlap, but people familiar with the genres can tell the difference.

          *Badly written* erotic romance can sometimes be mistaken for erotica, though.

      2. SRW*

        ……. but no, it isn’t? There’s plenty of romance without erotica and there’s plenty of erotica without romance (HEA). It’s not even as challenging as an “all apples are fruit” or “all men are doctors” logic puzzle … The genres are distinct, for non-nebulous reasons.

    1. Nanani*

      Amazon is really weird about what gets classified where, and the line is already pretty wiggly and hazy in the first place.

  40. MicroManagered*

    LW2 Prior to going remote, I used to work with some real paper-lovers. Printing a paper and leaving it on someone’s chair was just as common as sending an email and it used to drive me bananas.

    How long have you worked with these people? If you’re relatively new, it may just take them time to learn that you don’t do paper. Instead of dramatically throwing the paper away in front of them like some are suggesting, I would probably ask them to email the source document. Printing for you and then being asked to go do a second step will get it through to most people.

    1. Ope!*

      I work with a retiree who still volunteers for my employer that trusts only paper to the extent that they continue to print lengthy documents in direct defiance of instructions otherwise. They are convinced that internet storage will fail “at any moment.”

      I’m empathetic because they worked through the era where that was definitely more true, but 99% of orgs (including ours) have got backups pretty well figured out, so at this point the cons outweigh the pros.

      1. MicroManagered*

        I’ve definitely worked with similar folks and I think that’s a “choose your battles” scenario. It’s probably less effort and more effective to take 3 seconds to drop a paper in the recycling bin than to convince them otherwise.

        And FWIW I don’t think it’s automatically an age thing! I have a coworker closer to my age who LOVES paper and a returning-retiree who has been paperless as long as I’ve known her.

        1. Ope!*

          Definitely agree and didn’t mean to make it sound like an age thing! I only mentioned the “worked through the era” thing because we work in information sciences so I know they’ve been on the cutting edge of it all before and (my guess is) been burned one too many times to want to keep up anymore

  41. TimeRaveller*

    I used to be the first stop for tech troubleshooting and the number of people who printed out screenshots (instead of like, emailing them to me) was way too high.

  42. MCMonkeyBean*

    For LW 3, it could be a ploy to look more stable or something but I think it is far more likely–especially if they have such high turnover–that it’s just not having enough resources to maintain the website and forgetting to keep that page updated.

    I was on the board of a local nonprofit for just a year and ended up quitting only because I felt like I wasn’t contributing anything and being on a board was not for me. I haven’t been involved in almost a year but someone just reached out to me because they thought I was still on the board as I am apparently still listed on the website. I am certain it is just something they have not updated because I went to look at the list and it also currently lists the previous president and not the one we voted for shortly before I left. I think that’s often just not something people think to maintain, especially at an understaffed nonprofit.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      [I know that it says people have been added, but I still think it’s more likely to be an error than some kind of malice–I would imagine the process that results in people being added during onboarding is different than when people leave because whoever maintains the site is presumably sent a blurb and a photo of the new people. But that doesn’t mean there is a process in place to notify them when people leave and need to be removed. An oversight for sure, but still probably just plain ol’ poor maintenance than a plot to deceive.]

    2. Legally Bored*

      This inspired me to look at my old job’s website and I have been gone (along with half of the listed staff) for over 2 years. It’s definitely to obscure turnover in my case.

  43. Rolly*

    2 and 3 point out how much people need to just try asking for what they want. Start doing it more and more in low-stress situations.

    Yes, maybe in #3 it’s not that simple, but asking what you want is a first step. Ask for what you want.
    I get the #2 is asking for a script, but the letter is so well-written I’m sure the OP is capable of picking the right words. Ask for what you want.

    1. Rolly*

      On the paper, the OP has said good stuff “Thanks for this but I have it electronically and prefer storing this type of information on my computer rather than on paper.” and “I have so many notes I need, I try not to kill all the trees! No need to print me a copy, thanks!”

      Next up is : “I’ve asked you before – please stop printing anything for me. It’s going right into recycling. Is that clear?”

  44. Calibri Hater*

    I was still listed as an employee on the website for a YEAR after I left a company. One of the many reasons I left was rhT I offered over and over to update their website and they didn’t see it as a priority (and the website is literally their #1 marketing tool). They lost multiple major clients after I left from not listening to their employees and customers and not focusing on their product. Go figure.

  45. Katy*

    I am a public school teacher, and one of my colleagues publishes paranormal romance under their own name – like, when you google this person’s name, their author website and amazon page and a bunch of book covers immediately come up. And apparently no one has a problem with it; the students never mention it, the teacher has been at the school for years and HR seems fine with their side job.

  46. Doctors Whom*

    LW #1 – I had a colleague who used to print EVERY email they received. I am not kidding. EVERY single one.

    I think by the time this individual retired they had been at the organization for over 20 years.

    They had so many filing cabinets crammed into their office. And then when they retired, dealing with that was ghastly because you couldn’t just recycle it all – had to order multiple locked shred bins in case there was any PII or anything in those decades’ worth of emails.

  47. Betsy*

    I wrote erotic fiction for awhile years ago (I’m a writer so it was just one of my genres) and it quickly spread through my neighborhood and my “reputation” has lasted for years, too, even though I’ve since written five mainstream novels. No one was ever mean or disapproving, more like the opposite, but I think it is tough to keep secret. People in the US are just super weird about sex, I guess. That said, it’s a fun genre to write!

  48. chewingle*

    LW #2 — Back when I was a contractor, I did an online piece for a client. A few days after the post went live, she sent me notes…through snail mail. She had printed out the piece directly from her website, written notes on it, and mailed it to me.

    Goos luck.

  49. It Happens to the Best of Us*

    OP #1 – I once sent out my wedding photos to a small group of colleagues (only people who requested them) and identified one wedding photo as “the money shot” because I thought it was the best photo. I had no idea what that expression actually meant and one of my coworkers told me afterwards. It was so embarrassing!

    1. LW1*

      Oh no! Thank you for sharing…

      Clearly some crass expressions get lodged in our subconscious and choose to come out at the wrong times.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        It doesn’t help that you can string together any three random words and come up with euphemism for something. And if it wasn’t before it probably is now. Language is a trap.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I know where that phrase comes from, but I have often heard it used on-set by photographers and filmmakers in mainstream contexts. Probably started as a joke and then became habit.

      I would consider it highly diluted from its origin. No need to be embarrassed.

  50. Jack Bruce*

    I was lucky in that at my old job, I had permissions to edit the staff directory so I deleted my entry my last day! I hated that thing- it was mandatory for public facing roles, but I never wanted my info out there.

  51. LittleMarshmallow*

    #2 sounds like maybe LW isn’t able to bring up notes and info as quickly as their audience would like (or something like that). For someone to take an extra step to print info for another feels like more of a “well if you don’t have it anymore I’ll just print it for you”. So in addition to the scripts already provided maybe also look inward and consider why people think you need to be provided paper copies this often.

    That said, if the situation is that it’s a big meeting and they’ve printed a copy for everyone and you just don’t want a copy I do think it’s unrealistic to expect a meeting organizer to remember (oh I only need 9 copies instead of 10 because Susie is going to be there and they don’t want paper copies). It’s sort of a strange behavior to be experiencing so I’d recommend considering if there’s something you’re doing or not doing (vs what your script is) that is driving this behavior.

    1. J*

      I wondered this as well. Are copies printed only and directly for OP? Or is it copies distributed for a group and OP doesn’t want one. Like LittleMarshmallow pointed out, it’s not realistic to expect others to remember OP is the single exception and print one less. Although, maybe with a small, repeated group – they’ll get the idea. Or perhaps OP could couch colleagues on using less paper.

  52. SoFresh&SoClean*

    LW#4 – yes, don’t slip up and let anyone at work know, you never know who will have a problem with it.

    My husband worked with a guy who came to work furious one Monday. It seems he was at a strip club over the weekend and was chatting up a stripper who mentioned she was quitting to become a teacher. Turns out the stripper would be a teacher at his kid’s school. The father/strip club patron took it upon himself to make sure that she was fired before she even started because he didn’t want someone with that kind of morals around his kids. I don’t know if he was successful, but I imagine he was.

    1. generic_username*

      ……………………………… does he realize there already is someone with that kind of morals around his kids?

        1. quill*

          The answer is that he thinks it’s OK for a man to pay for those sort of morals, and not OK for a woman to be paid for it.

    2. LutherstadtWittenberg*

      The guy was at a strip club. He voluntarily went to a strip club. He’s around his own kids more than the teacher would be. Nothing wrong with stripping, whole lot wrong with that guy. Your advice is sadly apt.

    3. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I bet no one could make him understand his reeking hypocrisy. UGH. That unfortunate young woman.

      1. Starbuck*

        And shame on the people in charge who didn’t ask “and how did you happen to come by this information yourself?” and then dismiss him with extreme prejudice when the hypocrisy became obvious. Ugh. These people only wield power because others are craven enough to allow it.

        1. Nameless in Customer Service*

          “These people only wield power because others are craven enough to allow it.”

          I am borrowing this perfect turn of phrase for my next letter to the editor.

  53. generic_username*

    I nearly spit out my coffee reading the first letter. No advice, just laughs at some internet stranger’s misfortune (that should blow over if you aren’t normally like this tbh). Blame lack of sleep from new baby

    LW#2 – stop accepting paper. My guess is that you take the papers they print you and set them somewhere until they leave and you recycle. Start saying “no thank you – I’ll look on the computer!” in a nice cheery voice and either don’t take the paper or hand it back to them to recycle. It’ll feel a bit awkward, but they’ll probably get the message after they start having to dispose of the paper themselves

  54. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    LW 4, one thing is standard sold-at-supermarkets romance, and other very different is dubcon/noncon/smutty/dead-dove-do-not-eat “””romance”””, which gets negative reactions from people. The best is to pick a pen name that is as much as removed as your real name.

  55. ChillinChild*

    LOL. I accidentally did the same thing as poster 1, but what I said wasn’t actually dirty or coarse, but several people who heard the expression *thought* it was. I used the phrase “shot our wad”, in the context that we had used all of our resources on an issue. The original meaning, which I knew, was a reference to using up all of your ammunition and had shot the wadding used in civil-war era guns and had nothing at all left to shoot.

    I didn’t think anything of it until a coworker mentioned that one of the other attendees had taken offense and mentioned it to her boos, who replied that the phrase wasn’t inappropriate or dirty, and that she needed to get her mind out of the gutter. LOL

    1. JustaTech*

      One of the professors at my college used that phrase to the *entire* freshman class in a chemistry lecture. While it might have started with a military meaning now it is 100% a dirty phrase, although he was using it in the “run out of important stuff” way.

      Of course the professor had no idea about the dirty meaning and, when it was explained to him after the lecture (he asked why everyone had laughed) he sent a mortified email to the whole class apologizing.
      (I always thought it was about spending money, but since I have learned that my peers assume the sexual meaning I don’t use the phrase at all.)

    2. Work From Homer Simpson*

      My brain still likes to wake me at 2am with the mortification from the use of that phrase when I was in 5th grade. We had a special assignment where we were teamed up with the 11th grade class and tasked to write a story based on real life that taught some kind of lesson. My older brother happened to be an 11th grader so he was there with us. I decided to write about the time he had spent all his money at the fair and didn’t have any later for something he needed, and I used the phrase “blew his whole wad” because I had a vague sense that it had a “grown-up” meaning and thought it would make me sound cool to the older kids. I had no idea of the sexual connotations. The 11th graders read all our stories and picked the top 3 winners (I think we got a candy bar or something). The winning stories were supposed to be read out loud, but after some giggling from the 11th graders that I didn’t understand at the time, someone jumped in and said we were short on time and would skip reading them aloud. Years later, when I learned the dirty meaning of the phrase, I immediately remembered that I’d written that story using thar phrase ABOUT MY OWN BROTHER and that the whole 11th grade class, including him had read it. So yeah, awkward. But lesson learned about using phrases without fully understanding them.

  56. Gal Friday*

    LW3 – if this is a very small org, they may outsource their website maintenance. Is there a person handling marketing tasks who might oversee those vendors? A straightforward request to that person might be your best avenue for getting yourself removed.

  57. lilsheba*

    #4 — I can’t speak to the business end of this or the money making possibilities that may or may not be there. But, I do believe that any legal activity or side job you do on your own time is YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Not theirs. I do agree with going with a pen name and playing it safe just because there are crazy people out there. But do what you want, just because you work with kids doesn’t mean you have to kow-tow to some kind of purity clause.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      That’s ignoring the very real fact that people have lost their jobs because of things like that.
      They can do what they want, but they should do it with their eyes open.

      1. Jora Malli*

        This. I’m from a family full of teachers, and I’ve heard more stories than I can count about people who have been disciplined at work for personal life stuff that parents found out about. Being seen leaving a bar, living with a romantic partner or even just a roommate of the opposite sex, you name it. The people who are saying this shouldn’t be a problem are right on a moral level, but wrong on a practical one.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Yup, posted further down about a good friend who lost his job as a teacher of primary school children because he published some gay fiction. There’s, even today, a lot of outrage against kids being around the concept of gay and still leads to loss of jobs.

        (It makes me angry, but as I don’t have kids I have no voice to go to the schools and tell them to be less bigoted)

  58. ArtK*

    LW#4 remember this: If you trust someone with information, you’re also trusting everyone that *they* trust. I can guarantee that somewhere in that chain of “trust,” there’s someone who is untrustworthy. Please be *extremely* careful about who you tell.

  59. Alex (they/them)*

    rip OP4. My mom works as a middle school teacher and avoids posting pictures with her holding so much as a beer. some people really expect those working with kids to just… not have lives.

    1. JustaTech*

      Nuns. They’re expecting that all school teachers are actually nuns (even the men). A totally “pure” lifestyle.

      It’s a very weird take on the thing a lot of little kids think, that their teacher lives at school.

      I remember being really surprised to learn that my kindergarten teacher had a daughter (but that was at least partly because I thought my kindergarten teacher was my grandmother’s age due to a similar, common hairstyle).

      1. quill*

        I think kids who think their teacher lives at the school do so because of society trying to ignore that teachers are human.

        That said my mom taught for enough years that I couldn’t go to the grocery store without some child yelling her name, sometimes even when I was there alone instead of with her. We don’t look THAT similar!

    2. quill*

      I swear to god that society expects (mostly women) who work with kids to not exist outside of their job / be a super subordinate part of their household, like an old-timey governess.

  60. Never Nicky*

    LW3 – is there a data protection angle you can highlight to speed up the removal of your personal and identifable information?

    Certainly in the EU and UK, my understanding is that the GDPR would cover this, including the need for personal information to be accurate, and also the right to be forgotten.

    Breaches of GDPR can lead to fines of £17.5 million or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is greater – so organisations tend to be keen to comply.

  61. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP4: I don’t work with kids (I do write smut though – under a very different name) but my old school friend did – up until he published some gay fiction. Then there was a few complaints from parents about how it was ‘inappropriate’ to have openly gay men around small children and…bye bye job.

    These days he works in a finance department.

    Write what you want, but if it’s smut or (Ihate having to say this) LGBTQ smut especially use a different name and keep it secret from as many people as possible.

  62. AlabamaAnonymous*

    LW2– In addition to handing the paper back to them, maybe go a step farther: ask them to send you a link to the info online. Or ask them to resend you the email. Or whatever makes sense in the context. That way, they are replacing their current action (printing a copy) with a different action (send the info electronically) that’s more helpful to you.

  63. Writer of the Erotica*

    I teach HS and write erotic fanfiction. I generate income with Patreon.
    Here are some tips….
    Use a pen name.
    Use an email address/username that is nothing like your real name.
    Never tell anyone at work, ever.
    Not even your “bestie.”
    Don’t ever “cross the streams” by mentioning your work on your Twitter/Insta/Patreon other social media.

    You’ll be golden.

  64. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#1 — I recommend following up with something similar to Alison’s script. I can almost guarantee that this will fix any problems.

    Then do good work, behave professionally and, by this time next year, you and your boss will probably find the whole episode funny.

  65. Jill*

    OP 4, especially if your program is government funded in any way I’d be really cautious about starting this. I’m in public relations for a non-profit childcare agency and I could 100% see this being a problem if it were found out in the community. Even if there isn’t technically anything “illegal” about it, the optics if it were to get out would definitely damage the program reputation and we’d be pressured to get rid of you. We once had to fire a teacher for leaving her own child (they were around 10, we serve 0-3 so couldn’t even be enrolled at our centers) in her car for 15 minutes while a family member came to pick them up, someone noticed and reported it, that was 5 years ago and we’re still having to tell parents she doesn’t work with us anymore. Obviously if you don’t get caught it doesn’t matter but you never know.

    1. Observer*

      This is so true – if this is a community based program with ANY government money, the pressure can get really, really intense.

  66. Empress Matilda*

    OP2, I’m a paper user as well, and you will pry my notebook and pen out of my cold dead hands before I switch to taking notes on my laptop. But I don’t print things for other people! And I can’t think of a single time in my career when anyone has printed something for me, other than presentation decks in meetings pre-pandemic. So I’m very curious about why this is happening.

    OP, I think your best bet is just to refuse the printouts as others have suggested. “No thanks, I don’t use paper” should be fine. But if that doesn’t stop it, you might want to dig into the “Why’s” a little. Some questions to ask (yourself or you colleagues):

    *Who is printing things for you? Is it the same person every time, or a group of people?
    *How many items do they print? Are those 2-3 sheets a day all one document, or three documents?
    *Do they print things for each other as well, or only for you?
    *Do they feel like you need the printouts for some reason? Maybe a former manager who made them do it all the time, or some longstanding requirement that TPS reports are always on paper?
    *What do they expect you to do with the printouts? (Make notes on them, approve them, keep them for some reason?)

    Although as I’m writing, I’m beginning to feel that it’s is a lot of time and energy to put into something like this! Don’t forget you also have the option to do nothing. Continue saying “no thanks, I don’t use paper” when people try to hand you things, and just toss the papers in the recycling if they end up on your desk regardless. If they choose to keep printing things for you, that’s their choice – it doesn’t mean you have to use the printouts, or even think about them for more than the time it takes to get rid of them.

  67. 90s Webmaster*

    LW#3, if in the US, phrase the email/letter as a “DMCA takedown request.” You can claim copyright over your photo, and then the publication of the photo without your consent is a copyright infringement. I used to field these requests, and they should be taken seriously, even if it is somewhat transparent that your interest is in accuracy, not intellectual property rights infringement.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Doesn’t the copyright belong to the photographer? Or the employer, if it was done under a work-for-hire contract?

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Rusty is correct. Since the person who took the picture was probably an employee of the organization, and doing it as part of their job, the rights to the photo belong to the organization.

        If you have your photograph taken by a professional photographer, the copyright of the photos belongs to the photographer. If you want additional copies, you can’t just scan them and print them yourself. You need to go back to the photographer.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          The actual cause of action that may exist here is publicity rights. You can’t use somebody’s likeness to promote your business without their permission. But it’s not clear that it’s worth going there.

      2. 90s Webmaster*

        Oh, I’m not suggesting that it would win in court, but there is usually a process for DMCA, whereas there isn’t a consistent process for “your web site is out of date.” LW wouldn’t be the only person to invoke the process for something for which it wasn’t exactly designed. Sometimes the standard operating procedure is to take down the content while someone figures out whether there is validity to the claim (depends on the size and maturity of the company), and at that point the desired edit has been made, and less likely to be undone.

  68. McThrill*

    LW #1, I’m sure if you follow Allison’s script you’ll probably be OK. I think we’ve all felt something similar. Although for the record, any colloquialism that has the word “stroking” in it is probably one that you shouldn’t use around your boss.

  69. Lenora Rose*


    I hope you don’t assume writing is easy money if you *haven’t* written fiction before, even just for fun. Even in these days where self-publishing means you can get your story out there fast, it is still a learned and practiced skill. And yes, that goes for smut, too; smut has its own extra special pitfalls, in fact, which is why I mostly don’t go there. If you have unstated publishing cred, or been writing NC-17 or X rated stuff about Bucky/Steve Rogers since the first Captain America movie came out and Maria/Captain Marvel since that movie, and know how to file off the serial numbers, of course this doesn’t apply, but it’s not actually that easy. (And you HAVE to read your genre.)

    Worse, publishing tends to be a case where a tiny handful make buck and the majority make less than a living wage. As a hobby/supplement, where you genuinely don’t expect more than bit of relief in the grocery bill on occasion, go for it, because it honestly can be fun.

    (I have a (tiny handful of) publishing credits and (even fewer) fanfic credits, though G rated to at most PA. And I have done critiques on the works of people who tried to pivot into writing fiction with no experience outside school assignments. It was… painful, let us say. And not at all saleable even when they were clearly aiming for commercial product.)


    As for the question you did ask about; one of my friends is a teaching, was teaching at a private high school. Some of the students hacked her phone, found some burlesque style pictures she’d made for her then husband (And by burlesque I mean still clothed, just in sexy/suggestive poses). The school added this to the reason not to renew her contract (and the students didn’t even get in trouble for hacking because “If you had better rapport with them, they wouldn’t have done it”) She is still teaching, and her current school doesn’t care, but we’ve all heard of worse outcomes.

    You’ve had a lot of good suggestions for how to separate your identity beyond “a pen name”. Look through it for the right level of paranoia for you; because this is literally your career at risk, and 100+ happy parents can mean less than 1 who makes a stink.

  70. Anonymous for obv reasons*

    As someone who works with kids and has written erotica, two things. 1) Wholeheartedly agree, very little risk of it ever being a problem as long as you keep your writing career to yourself. 2) do NOT count on it as a means to a passive income. Most people make little to nothing.

  71. Mental Lentil*

    Former coworker emailed me on their last day, asking if I had taken care of some relatively minor task. I emailed back a short message: “Yes, I did.” Three words.

    When we were cleaning out her office the following week, we found out that she had printed it out, not once, but three separate times.

  72. PotsPansTeapots*

    LW #1, I recommend peeking your head into the sex work corner of the internet (we’re easy to find on Twitter…for now) for advice on locking down your social media, sticking to your work persona, and general compartmentalizing (many SW have children/have day jobs working with them). Even though what you’re doing is pretty far from sex work, people are weird and only getting weirder about adults’ private lives and there are folks out there who have experience being public under a work name.

  73. No_More_Paper*

    #2 – I sometimes have this same issue with some of my coworkers. Some of them I know they function using paper so that’s what they’re working from and I roll with it. But if not, my usual script is “thanks but you don’t need to print that for me, you can just scan or email it to me.” If I feel I need more explaination, I add “I’m trying to stay as paper-free as possible.”

    One day I was feeling particularly sassy (the culprit was notorious for printing emails and dropping a print copy in my inbox – WHY?!?) and that day I caught him putting one in my inbox and I loudly declared, “Is that PAPER?! I don’t want paper. I will literally take that and throw it in the bin.” He sheepishly took the paper back and said he would forward me the email. Now, this coworker of mine has a good sense of humor and we both laughed about it (especially since I’m generally not that agressive at work). I know that wouldn’t work for all coworkers. But, he also has not printed an email for me again.

  74. Is Zoom an Instrument*

    #1, don’t feel too bad — I accidentally used an unbelievably inappropriate mashup of four different American idioms to a partner team at work. They laughed it off, I awkwardly tried to explain what I meant, they helped me untangle the idioms I meant to say, and now they jokingly use that mashup amongst themselves & with me. This can be an awkward -but-happy bonding moment as long as your intentions are clear.

    #2, I’m guilty of preferring printouts when I review drawings or technical documents — I usually print them out and hand the marked-up copy with a notes summary on a sticky note back to my designers. Some of them have started printing out their documents and leaving them on my desk before they submit their workflows because they know they’ll get a quicker review ! Now I wonder if this annoys them lol.

  75. Princesss Sparklepony*

    Cinnamon Toast Alliance – I want this to be a real thing!

    Fie upon you, great sounding fake companies!

  76. Free Associations*

    I’ve been thinking about doing something similar to LW#4, with a similar situation. Having produced some fanworks that people liked, I want to venture out a little further. However, I sometimes struggle to read the room and might innocently put a foot wrong at any time (not in the sense of being deliberately bigoted and then complaining about being canceled – I wrote a piece where I projected my feelings about gender onto a fictional character and got backlash about bad representation, even though I was describing my own orientation and what I identified with in the character. I still think about some of the worst comments, and how people went through my posting history to find more things I did wrong, and the feeling takes up way too much space in my head.) This has made me terrified of crossing the streams, being doxxed, or revealing a piece of myself that people will want to hurt me for.

    I have some questions if the experienced people in the comments don’t mind?

    1.) is it possible to set up a Patreon, KoFi or similar account where you can receive tips without sharing your real name? Doesn’t it have to link to a real-life bank account?
    2.) if you self-publish, don’t you have to use your real name somewhere? Meaning, when you set up your own “press” to publish under, can’t people see the owner of said press?
    3.) how do you go about finding sensitivity readers or beta readers under anonymity?

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