What’s in a Name?

Spanish Language Wikipedia logo

Spanish Language Wikipedia logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Short answer – Nothing and everything.

Why? Naming something, whether a character, selecting your author name, or naming a website … unfortunately gives an impression to the person who happens to read it – positive or negative, maybe even neutral. Some authors opt for using a pen name because their names are not “suitable” for the genre they are writing, or because they prefer not to use the real name.  As an example, I will use my own. When you read my author name (Maria Antonia Diaz), you may (or not) assume that I write in Spanish, when I don’t; so far inspiration has come in English, but that doesn’t mean anything because one day, I may sit down and write a novel in Spanish (translations do not count here). Perception of a name depends on many factors – personal, cultural, social … you get the idea. Fame adds another layer. As an example, I will mention J.K. Rowling (famous) and her recent pen name of Robert Galbraith (not famous, at least until he became J.K. Rowling and the book started selling hot, hot, hot).

Recently, I was reading about the importance of obtaining the .com for your author name if available, and how to forgo another domain (.net, .org …) if it was already taken. The reason given is that people are conditioned to search for a .com first, and the mind makes an association with that first name (the .com owner). In addition, people will land on the .com first, and it may not be to your best interest if the association with the already taken domain is not a positive one, especially after so much work and dedication crafting your path. The author’s opinion was that it was better to obtain a .com by tweaking your name, or by choosing some important point/feature from one of your novels to drive attention to your work. This was when panic hit. I realized that I had never bother to see if a .com was available for my author name. After so many years of research and work, how this simple point escaped my attention? If I was so serious about my path as a writer, how something so basic eluded me? The answer to that had to do with how I viewed my two work-related domains, as an intricate part of me, the author. That was the wrong answer. Why? Because readers don’t make that connection, I do.  You can guess what happened next.

I found out that the .com was available, and I grabbed it. In addition, I decided to build a separate website as an author. It is in the making. I could have done that from the beginning, but Inkspeare was the name for this blog, and it is how it developed. Changing the name of it at this point, would be a mistake. This takes me once more, to the importance of thinking your author name and its developement, not only well, but separate from your other online personas/entities. You might view yourself as one and only one, but this is only your perception, and not necessarily translates into the reader’s perception. As far as readers concern, they don’t care about your other jobs, sites, or online entities; they just don’t make that connection that you have internalized.

If you are contemplating a career as a writer, a long and serious one, think about separating the author from your other online personas that do not relate to you as an author, and which readers will not make a connection with, because in reality, it does not pertain to your name as an author.  In the long run, it will be easier for you, and less confusing for the readers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have many readers now because you are setting the foundation for your future as an author.

So what’s in a name? Nothing and everything.

5 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I use Kenton Lewis, because to me it sounds like a writers name. My real name being Byron Lehman. Kenton becomes my alter ego I suppose.

  2. I love how both names sound, and never occurred to me that your name wasn’t Kenton Lewis – see what I mean? I am sure that as we become used to other domains the .com issue would cease to exist. It is all programming, and how we perceive things. I guess it is more about making it less confusing for the readers and about continuity, although many authors use different pen names for different genres; however, each pen name seems to stand for itself, and does not cross over.

  3. Very informative and I enjoyed reading and learning the importance of the name of the author. I am an aspiring author and these topics are of special interest to me. Thanks for sharing the lovely post with us.

  4. Hi, thank you for stopping by. I am glad that you liked it. Best wishes on your journey as an author.

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