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Marketing for Authors Made Simple - What's in a Name?


I hesitated before posting this entry, as noms de plume are a whole different can of worms and not typically thought of as part of marketing.  However, in my humble opinion, an author's name can and often does play a significant role in their marketability, and it is primarily this aspect of pen names that I will be addressing here.

Whether you decide to market yourself and your work under your given name or a pen name is a very personal decision.  However, it is a very important decision, and should not be made lightly.  Although there are authors that write under multiple names, these are generally writers that have already established a name for themselves in one genre and choose to use a second name when writing a different style or genre than previously.  For the rest of us, one published name is sufficient.

Choosing a name wisely, whether it’s your own or one you’re creating, is probably even more important than your photo.  It will be the only constant factor between the many books, blogs, and other works you’ll be publishing.  Your photo, on the other hand, will not always be included everywhere your name is printed; your books' titles and jacket covers will likely be used even less frequently. 
 
There are two key factors in a good name from a marketing perspective.  Your name needs to be memorable enough that readers can recall it when telling their friends about your wonderful writing.  It should be easy enough to spell, so that they and their friends can enter it to find you on Google, Amazon, or Twitter.

Your name as a writer will be very public, and the better job you do at marketing the more public it will be.  This includes social media feeds, so if you are hesitant to make your personal profile information public, you may want to create a new name with its own profile that would thus be secure to share with the world.  When people hear about you and search for your name, will they find scandalous photos of you on Facebook, or unprofessional background info on Google? If so, a pen name is probably a good idea for you.

Pen names do have their drawbacks.  Typically you’ll not give out your real name or even admit to having another name when you’re in a situation of being introduced as a writer.  This sounds easy enough, but it can be impractical sometimes, and can cause some confusion whenever your writing world and personal world overlap.  Pen names require a little extra effort in social media if you also keep a personal account, as you would need to be conscious of which profile (public pen name or private real name) you are posting under, and will have the extra time of keeping two accounts active. 

Having written under both my real name and a pen name, I can honestly say that it’s a toss-up for which is easier, and effectiveness in most cases is at least as much due to the effort put into marketing the name as it is to the name itself.   It really comes down to your personal preferences – your comfort with being a public personality, whether you feel a pen name would give you any key advantages such as being easier to spell, and if you feel the potential hassle of a pen name is outweighed by the benefits of being able to create your new image from scratch.

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Learn more about marketing your writing at Sierra Writers on May 13th at 6pm.  For more details, check out my upcoming class calendar.

1 comment:

  1. Well said ~ Clearly, the answer to the question, "What's in a name?" is more than you think, yet, like a rose, the name is only a bridge to the memory of the experience.

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