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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Part 2: What's In A Name?

When I Google 'Converse', I get a zillion results related to the shoe company or the products they offer. When I Google my name, I get a zillion results related to anything but me. In fact, I discovered that there is another author named Susan Mills. YIKES! I can't have the same name as another author, can I? Yesterday, I discussed my user name, Lazy Writer, and how I thought I should change it because of the impression it gives. I want to thank you all for your feedback on this. I guess I've always known I would have to change it some day, and I think that day has come. Now, I have a new dilemma. What do I change it to? I could come up with another catchy name (many of you had some great suggestions yesterday), but I think it would be best to go with the name I intend to be published under. The problem is, though, I don't know what that is yet. Given the fact that 'Susan Mills' is common (not to mention boring) and that there is another author by that name, I've decided I need a pen name. What do you think? And what about your name? Are you happy with what you find when you Google it?

53 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

I had a dilemma when i got my contract. I was Rosen for 36 years and Schwartz for only one. So I went with both. I wanted my old friend s from high school, etc. to realize it was me!

But it does sound kind of dumb. Corey Rosen Schwartz. Maybe I'll drop the Rosen next time.

storyqueen said...

I'd think about adding a middle initial or something. For me, I am Shelley Moore Thomas in all aspects of my life, except for where I work, then I am just Mrs. Thomas. I kind of like having a work identity separate from the real me.

Whats your middle name? Stick it in there.

(I think Corey Rosen Schwartz sounds cool.)

Shelley

MattDel said...

There are three other guys named Matthew Delman that I know of. One's a college student in Virginia, one a DJ based out of Toledo, Ohio, and the third's living in Las Vegas.

However, my web presence is significant enough that I'm the first result that pops up when I Google my name (and second and third).

So yes, I'm very happy with my name. I tried to come up with several pen names, but didn't end liking them enough to want to really use them.

You might get away with writing as S. (middle name) Mills. My good friend writes as K. Marie Criddle (I didn't even know "Marie" was her middle name until a few months ago, btw).

strugglingwriter said...

You could use your middle name or first initial and middle name.

If you are going with the pen name, a play on words with something from your genre would be cool.

Natalie said...

Do you have an unusual maiden name? (I think you're married right?). I had a very regular maiden name so I am thankful my husband gave me the extremely unusual last name, Bahm.

If you don't have a cool maiden name I think I'd still keep Susan and pick a grandmother's maiden name or something like that. Then the name still means something to you.

Suzanne said...

I'm going to use my Grandmother's maiden name.

Hayze. That's why when you google Suzanne Palmieri you get all kinds of teacherly stuff (and suzy hayze stuff too) but when you google Suzanne Hayze you get... ME!

Play around with it. I put both names everywhere so both are seen together.

Janna Qualman said...

I'm one who usually votes against pen names. Claim your name and be proud of what you've written! Could you maybe add your middle initial? Or even your full middle name? Add you maiden name?

I'm fortunate to have an unusual name, and Google searches point directly to me. The problem I've found, though, is that it pulls everything, including insignificant comments on blogs and the like. There's nothing I'm worried about others seeing; it's just I hate they'd maybe have to wade through to the important stuff.

EriCan said...

I thought about this too. I like the suggestions with the middle initial. Funny. I was a Mills too- my maiden name anyway. If I use both I will sound like a law firm, or a funeral home-- Mills-Chapman...

Not sure what I'll do. I love my maternal grandma's last name. I'll try and incorporate that.

Play around- see what you can come up with.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I'm torn on this too. I like my name and my first name is relatively unique. When I google Roni Griffin, I'm not the first entry but I pop up on the first page. However, I think I need one because if I write hot romance, I don't necessarily need future employers knowing (especially if I'm teaching).

I could use my maiden name (Kaiser). When I google it, almost the whole page is all me (facebook, myspace, the alumni page of my HS, etc.) so it must be more unique. But I never really loved my maiden name, so I'm not sure. Maybe I'll come up with something completely different.

Maybe you can do some play on one of your names. Susie/Sue/Suzette and Miles/Millsap/Millson/Milburn or something. Although, they say that the most popular pen name combo is two syllable first name with one syllable last name, which you already have going on. :)

Patti said...

Even though I have a common last name, I seem to be the only one to have it, except a teacher at Columbine High school. I agree that you should throw a middle initial in there or use a maiden name with Mills, but try to keep your identity.

Tess said...

An interesting discussion. If you are asking for my two cents, I say go with your real name and don't worry about the fact that there are others with the same. When you hold your first published novel in your hot little hands, you will want to see your actual name on it. Plus, you'll want your friends to recognize it as well.

Melanie's Randomness said...

Oh woa about the name. Yeesh. Well Anne Rice wrote as "A. N. Roquelaure" for another series she wrote. Mark Twain's real name was "Samuel Clemens" I believe. That's a toughy. If you look up in the library for authors sometimes there are tons of different books with the same author name, but if your book is a different genre maybe that's okay?

Angie Muresan said...

My name's unusual enough that I might stick to it. If I decide to write under a pen name I will probably use my first and middle initials and my mother's maiden name.

LadyWriter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

I used to think my name was too boring to be a good author name. But I like my name and I've realized that, as common as it is, I have yet to find a fiction writer that has published under it. I'm also planning to publish with my full name, which makes it sound a little less boring, I think. Karen Marie is more interesting than just plain Karen.

For you, have you thought about using your maiden name? Or your mom's maiden name or something like that? You don't have to dig very deep to come up with something a little bit different.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Since my dad had all girls, and our family name is dying out, I decided long ago that if I ever get published I'd be doing so under my maiden name. So that's why I'm here as Eileen Astels Watson. I'm really Eileen Watson now, but should I ever get published, I'll be Eileen Astels on the cover. By joining the two last names in the cyber world, the Astels will be caught in google at least.

Is Mills your married or maiden name? Perhaps check out the other to see how it fairs in the search engines.

Strange Fiction said...

I like Susan Mills, can you add an initial? I read somewhere that an author picked a pen name because it would place her on the shelves next to a best selling author--higher visibility I guess. So Mills would put you up near Meyers :)

Abby said...

I like the idea of using a grandmother's maiden name. Still keeps it personal, but maybe you can come up with something a little more unusual?

I'm forturnate to have a relatively uncommon name. There are a few Abby Annis's out there, but if you google my name, at least four links come up linking back to me. And I'm always on top. :)

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

When I google my real name scores and thousands of results come up, none of which are actually me.

Once, I searched my given name in Amazon and nothing came up. But it is a concern I have as my name is aurally very similar to another very popular author and I don't know if I want any accidental associations.

Stephanie Faris said...

Well, there's your maiden name? Is that more interesting? What's your middle name? Your mom's maiden name? I'd head toward something that means something to you. You could also look through your family tree and see what you find.

Tea With Tiffany said...

If you are writing for YA, I definitely suggest something more hip. Ultimately, I say BE YOU! Who are you to yourself? Is it Lazy Writer? I hope not. I hope you see your creative side and smile.

Nice to meet you!

L. T. Host said...

My first name is really unusual, but it's also the name of a character in a once-popular fantasy series, and I have this nightmare where the author, whom I adore, comes to sue me for using her name. So, first initial, middle initial, last name, rolls off the tongue. I tossed around a lot of variations before I decided. In the end, it's really something you have to pick, though, Susan. What's comfortable for you? What are you ok being known by? If it's your name as it is now, I say do it. I would throw in your middle initial though, to differentiate between yourself and the other other.

Jungle Mom said...

I think it should be related to shoes in some way!

Jill Kemerer said...

When you decide on a name, make sure you Google that one too! Nothing worse than finding a great name belonging to someone else.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

My name is fairly common, too. And I've discovered there is another Wendy Miller out there with an unfavorable profession. Rock on. But it's my name and I'm sticking to it. I've considered throwing my maiden name into the mix...Wendy Paine Miller. Sounds like a law firm...still thinking. :D
~ Wendy

staceyjwarner said...

Take this one slow, it needs to come from you. It might not come right away. You've put it out in the universe and it will come to you.

Much love!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i'm with stacy...take it slow. there aren't any other writers with my name (that are on the internet....although their is a pesky beadwork lady who took my .com domain....) so i didn't worry with pen names. but good luck to you as you figure it out. (and i'm glad you've decided to change Lazy Writer...i did have a negative connotation associated with it a bit....no offense!) :)

jeannie
Where Romance Meets Therapy

Tamika: said...

I like Shelley's idea of using a middle name. A pen name seems so secretive.

What about a first initial and your last name.

I'll be praying for you in your decision!

Dominique said...

When I Google my name, I get listings for apartments. Not what I'm hoping for. Though, if I reject the apartments, I get a kick to the facebook of a girl I've never met in Orange County.

I actually just had to pick a new name for a class I'm taking on Chinese. It was an interesting experience. For a pen name, I'd recommend using naming websites to find a name with a meaning you like.

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh yay, I got in. Yesterday I had to leave my comment under Monday's because DANG blogger wouldn't let me in. GRRRR. I hope you saw me. I was jumping up and down, waving my arms. :)

I think pen names are fine. And I love your REAL name. Though I understand your reasons for wanting to write under a pen name. Why don't you use the middle name idea? :)

Beth said...

I dig the real name, but I like the middle initial idea some suggested. When I google my name it pulls up a professional shapeshifter, and the only shapeshifters I've ever heard about have been in books. So I've got that going for me I guess ;)

K. M. Walton said...

Go with your gut here. You've gotta like it. I think Susan Mills is a great name and not at all boring.

Girl in My Own World said...

My Twitter comes up when I google myself and there are some others out there with my name. I don't know. I am going to help you think of a name. Just give me a little time. I think that a pen name is cool though. Great idea! Especailly if there is anoter Susan Mills out there. I have never heard of her though. Well, I will let you know what I come up with.

Rae said...

I hope you find just the right name you are looking for. I agree with what many have already said. A middle name or an initial may help. I am anxious to see what you select.

Girl Meets Gun said...

I'm pretty glad my name is unique in that manner. I won't have to worry about another author having the same name.

I missed your blog yesterday (SORRY!!!) but hmmm...creating a new name on here could be fun for you! And as for a pen name, I would try to keep it as close to your name as possible if you wanted to use your name. Otherwise...pen names are fun, too. :) I'm going to be using my initials, N.C. Witowski, just because I think it sounds cool! lol.

Kelly H-Y said...

I like the idea of adding a middle initial ... or your maiden/married name to your last name (whichever one you're not currently using! :-)).

La Fleur said...

Few of us have truly unique names. In my opinion, it is not so much about the name, but moreso what you do with it. There is nothing wrong with Susan Mills or Lazy Writer for that manner (your name actually attracted me to your blog). It is about what you do with it.

I immediately think of Michael Jordan. That is a pretty common name; however, he made it his own. You are talented. I believe that you can do the same. Stop worrying about the other 'Susan Mills' out there. You shine above all the rest!

Heather Sunseri said...

Oh, wow, this is really, really BIG!!! A pen name? I'm going into hives just thinking about this for you. I agree with those above who said to take it slow. Very, very slow.

I guess my name is something I was blessed with when my dear husband came into my life. It's very unusual. I do believe I might be the only heather sunseri in the world. I'm not sure who I will be beside on the bookshelf. I'll have to check that out.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

What a kawinkey dink, when I googled my name I found out there is also another Sherry Rogers but she is a picture book artist. She also has a blog under the name Sherry Rogers, so I had to come up with something differnent.

I actually self published a book and the name of it is Splatt so thats how I got the name for my blog www.splattawayoflife.blogspot.com.

Since the name Sherry Rogers is already taken, I just use my middle name as extra, Sherry Dale Rogers. Dale is how I have always signed my art work, it just works. My published book is under the name Dale Rogers. Dale seems mysterious to me.

I have actually talked to the other Sherry Rogers and get this her hubby's name is Dale Rogers, go figure.

Good luck on coming up with a name.

Later

Tere Kirkland said...

I'm gonna go with Mills being an excellent choice for a last name because it's in the middle of the alphabet.

You'd be shelved in the middle of the other books in your genre, not at the very end, or at the very beginning. I tend to browse more in the middle of the alphabet for some reason, but ymmv.

Good luck, and don't kill yourself over it!

Cindy said...

I'm one of those who doesn't usually go for pen names. If that's what you want, though, you should definitely do it.

When I first started getting my name out there, Cindy Wilson was pretty common. It's the name of that blond singer in the B-52's! So I added in my middle initial and quickly claimed my domain name and now when you put in Cindy R Wilson, it goes right to me. Are there still a lot of names like yours if you use your middle initial?

Dawn VanderMeer said...

You and I are thinking alike this week! I think I'm changing the name I write under, and I'm planning to post about it once it's official. Good luck deciding, Susan!

~Ellie Kings~ said...

I agree with most... add an initial, it'll work. OR ...
Sleep on it and come up with a pen name like me. My real name is Elizabeth Reyes. Most of my life many have pronounced my last name wrong, so years ago I decided to make up a pen name. I chose to go with my nickname and translate my last name to English. I thought it sounded catchy then, and I still like it today, Thank God.
PS. I dont think your name is boring at all! :)

MG Higgins said...

I'm glad you posted this. It gave me the incentive to Google MG Higgins which, for some strange (probably introverted) reason I've been avoiding. Phew. My blog was the first thing that came up on Google and there doesn't seem to be an author by that name.

It looks like you've gotten some good name advice, so I won't add to your confusion by throwing in my .02.

Jody Hedlund said...

I think it's a good idea to figure it out now. You're building a web presence and a potential readership. You want your name to be the one people will know you by forever! Good luck!

Tabitha Bird said...

I like Suzanne's idea of using her grandmother's name. I might do the same thing one day. Good luck with this one. It is very hard to choose.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I decided to use my whole name (including middle) because of Kay Hooper. She's very famous and I thought Karen Hooper was too close. Plus I do love my middle name so why not use the whole thing? Though it is a bit weird when someone misses the Karen and calls me Amanda. I've never gone by Amanda, so it sounds funny to me. lol.
Maybe you can use your full name too. :)

Amy De Trempe said...

I used my maiden name because it is uncommon. However, I think I may go google, it has been awhile. What about a nickname? If I had gone with that I would be Mimi. Maiden name? Mother's maiden name? Just a thought. It is fun to play around with different combinations. You will find one that works for you.

WhisperingWriter said...

How about Non Lazy Writer? ;)

Laura Martone said...

Oops. I meant to post this earlier, but it's been a weird day...

Like Natalie Bahm, I'm grateful for my husband's last name, because I never really liked my maiden name. But it wasn't always like that:

I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl, so I've always thought that I would keep my name (Laura Raitman) - whether I married or not. I even published several articles (online and in magazines) under "Laura Raitman." When I met Dan, he made it clear that he'd like me to change my name, and I made it clear that I wouldn't. Despite the fact that I never liked my maiden name. In fact, I'd started trying to think of a new name... Kingston, Guinness, Cross, etc. (don't ask me where any of those came from). I think it really hurt Dan's feelings that I was willing to change my name - just not to his.. It was hard to explain to him that I needed my writing to be mine - and not related to his family's name.

Even after we got married in January 2001, I kept my name and continued to publish under it. Then, in the spring of 2003, Dan's parents sent us plane tickets to visit them in Florida... and his mother had inadvertently booked them under Laura and Daniel Martone. Being a post-9/11 climate, airports weren't accepting name discrepancies (even if I'd dragged my marriage certificate along with me), and my mom-in-law couldn't change the tickets because they were purchased with frequent-flier miles. SOOOOOO, long story short, I officially changed my name to Laura Martone (drivers' license, social security card, the whole bit). At first, I was a little miffed - MY mom even thought my mother-in-law was being passive-aggressive about the whole thing (as if she were trying to force me to change my name) - which I know for certain was not the case. My MIL is just an old-school gal - she figured I'd already changed my name, like good little married girls do. Sigh.

Now, I think the whole thing is hilarious. I actually like the name Laura Martone better (despite the presence of others named the same) - and so much more of my writing (like my guidebooks) is published under my new name that Laura Raitman is a thing of the past. And it was kinda nice selling a jointly written screenplay under Daniel and Laura Martone - there was no doubt that we were a married writing team, and I liked that!

As for Google, well, sadly Laura "Raitman" only yields one person... me. Laura "Martone," however, is apparently a common name, but I'm the one mentioned in seven out of the first ten google hits, so I must be doing something right. :-)

Laura Martone said...

As for YOUR dilemma, Susan (wink, wink - I'm such a comment hog)... I like some of the above suggestions. Middle initials, maiden names, etc. Although I like your name, I can see that "Susan Mills" might be rather common.

I toyed with dropping my last names and going with my middle name - "Laura Clare" - but it sounded like a Southern belle romance writer... which I thought might send the wrong message to potential agents and readers. Teehee.

Glynis said...

I chose to use my own name as it is unusual enough.

What about S.R Lislm? (pronounced Lism), it is Mills mixed up.

Veronica Barton-Dean said...

We've been thinking about the name game alot in our house as well. Thomas and I are both unpublished writers. Both of us are at the point to start submitting to agents. Than there is our acting daughter as well. Our current last name makes all of us sound uneven. So we've been considering changing it to one that carries a little more of his heritage.

When it comes to our projects I often get obsessed with names and than can't come up with one. Then I'll be sitting on the couch watching TV or at hockey practice or ballet and it will just hit me. For the moment it will be perfect, after all the publisher will most likely change it anyway. When we first started querying for Thomas' project his book title gave the project more of a romantic feel than a murder/mystery. He didn't get very many nibbles. Now that he's changed it, it makes a lot more sense to the project and expect he'll get more takers.