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?





10 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? EVERYTHING!”

  1. Ah, Rob. (That’s my husband’s name – including the ongoing joke about Lori being “Rob-bed” —LOL) We’re expecting a second grandchild, and our daughter-in-love is determined to have a name for her baby that can be found in a gift shop. This is explained by how her mother spelled her name: Alisane. (Yes, it’s pronounced Allison – just spelled uniquely.) Even if you’re not an author, a name and how it’s spelled is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugg — talk about unique names!! When I lived in NY I didn’t think my name was unique or difficult to pronounce. I was spelling it the traditional way, “Edie” back then. I NEVER had issues with it. THEN – I move to CA. All of a sudden, people couldn’t pronounce it. I got called “Eddie” all the time, or “E” “die”.

    Really? Sooooo…when I went into web and graphic design I decided that I wanted a more artsy look to my name. I followed in the footsteps of Eydie Gorme (Remember them? Steve and Eydie? If not, look her up – famous singers). BUT – people still weren’t able to pronounce my name. Sure, they ‘y’ in there is tricky, I get it. Now I get “I” “die” . Often, when someone needs my name – like restaurant reservation, Starbucks, etc, I just use Dee. MUCH EASIER!!!

    Now that I live in AZ – I’m still having the same issues.

    Yup, my name has been the bane of my existence since I was born. Birth name is Edith – which I HATE!!!! When I use it at the doctor’s office, etc, the nurses call me – get this – “Ed” “ith” Sigh —- Edith is not that uncommon. It’s frustrating. Had I known I’d have such trouble with my name I would have simply used my middle name – Helen. Oh how I wish I had a common name. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. :). I remember the Gorme’s well. I admit to struggling with your name, too. I just saw and said, ah, her!.

      My grandfather’s name was Hyram. He legally changed it to Ray. Good call.


  3. This is a problem. When I was thinking about which name to claim as my forever writer’s name, I realized every name I have is fairly common. Bonnie is not so common now, but there are a lot of them out there who are in my generation. Before I was married my initials were BM. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I always used my middle initial. Always. Then there’s the middle name – Lynn. There is a pretty famous Lynn Anderson out there. There is another author named Bonnie Manning, too. Now if I go by my initials, you have bla. Who wants to be bla? So the only viable choices were Bonnie Manning Anderson or BLM Anderson. That sounds too much like a sandwich. I like your full name. It works well and looks impressive on your book covers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I was the only one in grand school with my name, it was an older name way back in the ’50;s. I like to look up meanings of names and see if they “fit” the person. My granddaughter wrote a (very long) blog about how she came up with her daughter’s name, Lia Faith. If you have time to read her “book”, this is her link: http://themarthareview.com/howd-you-pick-that-name/


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