Q. If I write using a pseudonym, how can I be sure no one else is using that name? And, what should I do if I discover another writer writing under my real name?
A. There is really no way to be sure no one is using your proposed pseudonym or pen name, but then, there is no way to be sure another writer does not have a byline the same as your real name. One thing you might try is doing an internet search for your name or the name you want to use. Many writers today have their own Website or would have an online presence. Not foolproof, but at least it is a place to start. There is no problem legally in using the same name as someone else—just a problem of identification or confusion for the readers. If you find another writer is writing under the same name, you can add a middle name or initial, switch to a maiden name, use your first initial plus a middle name, etc. I have not often used a pen name, but when I have, it is my middle name, plus the last name my father's family used before they moved here from England and changed it—Elizabeth Marchant.