Friday, October 11, 2019

Author names

KDJames brought up a good point about name recognition for authors. This is something I’ve been mulling over for quite some time, and I’d be very interested in getting your opinion on.

The question is: Having used the name Casual-T for all my public, professional, and online activity (social media accounts), how feasible is it to expect that I will be able to use it for TRADITIONAL publishing purposes? It is a, let’s just say, somewhat unusual name in the world of literature, and I’m wondering if there might be pushback along the lines of “Well, son, this is a great book you’ve written there, but with this name we won’t be able to get it to the right people? How about A.V. Erage. Now there’s a fine name for an author!”

I do think that part of a good branding strategy is to stand out (in a good way)... In my opinion the name Casual-T does just that. It’s gets people’s attention.

Use the name people know you by.
It's worked before.

Besides, how will I know to buy your book if it says something other than Casual-T?

The ONLY question people will have is whether to shelve you as a C or a T.

PS I have NOT forgotten contest results. I'm hoping to get to those this weekend.
Sorry for the delay.


Amy Johnson said...

Casual-T: You've got the coolest of monikers. And it's memorable--you're the musician who also rocks at flash fiction.

I've spent considerable time lately studying author branding, and I'm still mulling when it comes to my name. Yeah, there are lots of Dan Browns, too. What to do? I dunno. I dunno. I dunno.

Aphra Pell said...

I'd stick with how you are already known unless YOU want to use a different name. In any case, I'd hope no one would get rejected on their name - in which case it is something you only need to worry about IF a publisher raises it. At which point its the kind of thing you can discuss with your agent and make whatever decision suits you at that time.

But generally I'd think unique and unusual is good, and all the Steve Kings out there are the ones with the problem.

K. White said...

I have fretted about my last name for way too long. Not only is White a dull moniker, it lands on the bottom of shelves, typically way in the back (yes, I've tested this in numerous different bookstores & libraries).

While visiting relatives deep in the Arkansas mountains I was shown a graveyard and told I was related to 99% of the inhabitants. I found several familial last names I'd never heard before. Interesting last names! Now I must decide which one I want to rebrand myself with. Probably one that begins with an A or a B. It'd be nice to be in the front of the alphabet for once in my life.

Craig F said...

Coming up with a unique name will make it much easier to grab the top spots of a google search. With that garnering attention on social media is pretty much of a snap.

Intrude on eight to twenty twitter feeds with a "Who is Casual-T" and watch the counters roll over.

That could almost be an advertising coop in it's own right.

Get published, Causal-T, I want to see what happens.

Y'all have wonderful weekends, please.

Colin Smith said...

As far as I'm aware, as long as your agent knows who to write the royalty checks to, it doesn't matter what name you put on your work.

Branding is a big deal, though. I've read Dana Kaye's book YOUR BOOK, YOUR BRAND, and it is both eye-opening and thought-provoking, especially if you've never thought of yourself as a brand. It sounds very de-humanizing and corporate-y, but when it comes to publicity and name-recognition, that's how you have to think. And in reality, it's all about coming to terms with who you are and how you like to be known, so it's really not as clinical as it sounds.

Branding is less about what your name is and more about what people think of when they see Casual-T on a book cover. Get Dana's book and read it. I recommend it. I know Janet uses Dana's services and has endorsed this book herself.

You'd think with a name like Smith I'd be chomping at the bit to give myself a pseudonym. But I'm fine with using my own name. Again, it's not so much my name but what you think of when you see it. I add my middle initial to help minimize confusion (there are other Colin Smiths in the world, apparently). My challenge is to make my brand so distinctive, all the other Colin Smiths have to say, "no, I'm not THAT Colin Smith" (the same challenge faced by all the other Stephen Kings in the world). :D

Laina said...

I'd shelf under C, considering the whole thing one name. Like the children's author "Avi" who only publishes under that name, as far as I know. (And is 81!)

Lennon Faris said...

The impression I get when I see the name "Casual-T" is someone who is laid-back/ likes to be informal, funny (sometimes in groaning kind of way), friendly. Based on Casual-T's writing, I think that's a pretty thematic impression. I would try to keep it.

Someone (here?) once told me my name reminded them of lemons and Ferris wheels and John Lennon. Food, theme parks and music? I'm cool with that.

Good luck, Casual-T!

Casual-T said...

Finally able to join the conversation... I’ve spent a manic morning and early afternoon, fixing up all that needed fixing up for a successful anniversary celebration for Mrs. Casual and yours truly, later on tonight. Pleasantries await!

In regards to the issue at hand, I very much appreciate the input by all you good folks out there, and I’m glad to hear that everyone seems to have a positive view on the matter. I do know that, as a musician, I have lost gigs because of the name; at the same time, I have also gotten gigs because of the name. One of my first Broadway gigs as a sub-drummer (on Chicago) I got, because the house drummer said he loved my name so much he dreamed about me subbing on his show, and in his dream I sounded so great that he just had to put me in... Ha! Well... Branding at its finest!

My point is, as with most everything in life, things usually tend to go both ways. Some people love it, others hate it. Or, as that funkiest of philosophers, Sly Stone, used to sang: “Different strokes for different folks.”

But as long as they buy the book (once I've freed it from the confines of my imagination), it’s fine by me!

Konnie Enos said...

K. White, my maiden name starts with a "W" so I understand completely why you'd want to be at the front of the alphabet. When I was younger I promised myself I'd marry someone who's name wasn't at the end of the alphabet and wasn't nearly as long as mine (mine has eight letters in it).

You will note my last name now starts with "E" and is only four letters long.

What I didn't know I was doing, was getting me a nice unusual and hopefully memorable name for my writing. I mean how many people do you know who spell "Connie" with a K or have the (first) name Enos for a last name?

Konnie Enos
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.
Instragram @ konnieenos

JanR said...

Amy and K., let me share some terrifying yet fascinating research from Business Insider. 13 surprising ways your name affects your success. Steven King has an advantage I wouldn't have thought of.

On Janet's question, I really like Casual-T (I mean, I like you and I like your name too! Happy anniversary!) and there is lots of precedent. Dickens used Boz. Georges Remi used Hergé. For someone contemporary, how about Adonis? Or for someone who publishes under a web name, Mercotte.

Amy Johnson said...

I just read the article, JanR. Thanks!

KDJames said...

That moment when you get unexpectedly name-checked in the first sentence of a post over here and have a brief but intense feeling of, "Oh geez, what did I do this time?" *snort*

This answer made me very happy for you, Casual-T. Someday, when I see your name on a book in a store, I'm going to get a big smile on my face, maybe even laugh with delight. Now hurry up and get that book out of your head and onto paper/screen! Also, Happy Anniversary to you and Mrs. C.