What’s in a Name? EVERYTHING!

Name recognition is a big deal. It’s a cornerstone of your platform. You have to get it See the source imageright.

Way back in my freelancing days, I had a decent platform. Enter my name in a Google search and there I was on the first page. Not the top, but somewhere in the middle, behind the Real Estate guy and Genetics CEO, but ahead of the musician. I turned down more business than I accepted.

Then Parks and Recreation came out, and suddenly “Rob Swanson” Google-corrected to “Ron Swanson.” Business dried up, I got another job and… but that’s another crazy story, and this one is about names.

“Robert” and it’s derivatives, “Rob” which means to steal, and “Bob” which means to float… badly… is one of the most popular names in America. “Swanson” to my surprise, is also way up there, and a common name can be death on Amazon for a writer. I could use my old stage name, but armed with that, some things may turn up on Google search better left hidden.

That’s why I use my full formal name for my books: Robert Alexander Swanson, a mouthful, but nonetheless almost unique. That was my only real option if I wanted personal credit for my books and screenplays. Married women have an alternative. Can you guess what it is from the choice of a couple of my authors?

Bonnie Manning Anderson

Debi Gray Walter

It isn’t my intent to publish only people with common names, but Rob, Debi, Bonnie, Steve, Cindy…. them’s the breaks.

Bonnie and Debi used their maiden names, yet there are other options for us plain Janes and Johns. Look to literature:

S.E. Hinton– Initials used to obscure the fact that the Outsiders writer was a woman. Far too cagey for male publishers to figure out.

Robert B. Parker – Author of the Spenser series. I thought about going with my middle initial, but I like my name block with all three names of various lengths being the same width.

Thorson D. – I’ll be honest and admit I’m not sure if he used his last name initial or got his first initial out of order. He wrote short stories back when the world was black and white.

Bill Quiverlance – A pen name I used in my ego-driven college days. Bill = William, Quiver = Shake, and Lance = Spear, for the sharp-witted, William Shakespeare (I said it was ego-driven).

Aron Osborne – Okay, this is Aron’s real name, but because his parents can’t spell, he’s got a unique name with a missing “n” and an extra “e.” Check out his book, So Many Mountains, Which Ones to Climb. You, on the other hand, can purposely misspell your name. I could be Ron Swanson with an instant platform… but, naw.

Is this a problem you have? Or are you one with a name so unique no one can spell it (Aloysius – how you get Al You Wish Us out of that, I don’t know)? How will you/have you handle(d) it?