Shakespeare pondered it in Romeo and Juliet – That which we call a rose would by any other name smell as sweet, said he. But the question I am pondering on this page is, how does that apply to the name on my book? Not the working title (we’ll do that on another page), but what name am I going to use as an Author?
As a writer, some people know me by my legal name, some people know me by one of my many fan-fiction character names, some people know me by my maiden name. While this will be convenient for determining who I am meeting at book signings simply by what they call me, the confusion seems to outweigh the utility of it. So, what name should I use? If you have thought about this yourself, how do you solve the problem before it becomes a dilemma?
I was going to go for something unique, something that wasn’t my real name because I think my name is boring. It seems exciting to have a pseudonym. I could be anyone I have ever wanted to be. One bright idea I had was that I could combine my favorite author’s names into a new portmanteau name. I could be SaraAnn Phillipa by using three first names alone. Or I could become an androgynous sounding Gregory Rice-Paretsky, hyphenated always seemed very modern and independent while still being proudly attached to another human. Or I could go with the adventure writers, twisting Tom Ian Web from the first names or better yet, the unisex Clancy Fleming Griffin from the surnames.
In the midst of all this pondering, let me to share something I heard on WBEZ Public Radio’s program All Things Considered.
They had people on who had done two different studies on how people perceive names. One was an Irish scientist with a really strange first name, the other was a woman. Naturally, I did not remember either name because I was driving at the time, but here’s the nutshell of their findings.
If you have a name that is easy to pronounce, people like it (and you) better. Sounds logical, right? But did you ever realize that? Guess that lets out a few of my favorites like Omphale or Geiravör.
According to Google, there are only 46 others with my name who have an internet presence, all of whom are on Facebook. Furthermore, Google has shown me that if I drop my first name to use my middle name instead, I will be confused with another writer, who is already established and doing her thing. I am sure that she will find a lawyer with a name that is easy to say and write on a check, who will sue me if I try to publish that way.
The other study found that no matter what kind of writing (or lecturing or teaching) you do, if you use your middle initial, you will be perceived as more intelligent and taken more seriously. YIPPIE!! So, again using Google, I find that most of my namesakes in this variation of my name, were born in the 1800’s and died in the early 1900’s, so they only have entries on Ancestry.com.
So, that solves the first question of my authorship. I will be using my nice boring name, complete with middle initial. Hence the author L.D. Barnes has officially come into being and staked out her space on Facebook, WordPress and a few other places. Funny thing is, I have used this ploy most of my adult life. As a woman working in a predominantly male profession, I sent out my resumes with that variation so that I would not be eliminated based on my gender.
What are you going to use for yours?