Your name is…

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’ – Shakespeare

And he’s right. You can call something a million different names, and it doesn’t change the object. By names like words carry visual images, interpretations that we can’t always anticipate as the audience struggles to understand that which they have been introduced.

For instance, when I say Mary, you automatically think of a girl.

If I say Jim, you think of a boy.

These names already come with connotations, just like any name you might here, and choosing your own name for your writing is as important as the writing itself. It has driven many authors to either choose something asexual, something ambiguous that may not carry culture connotations. Authors may choose a name that seems more fitting with the genre, which can prompt male writers to choose feminine names when writing romance, because the stereotype is females write better romance than males.

A few questions and arguments borrowed from other sites:

  1. Are you comfortable with your name in publicity? – Writing World
  2. Is your gender/culture met with prejudice? – BBC
  3. What is the stereotypical name/persona in your genre? – Writing World
  4. Do you need to switch genres? Change reputations?- BBC
  5. Is your name memorable? Or too common? – Writing World
  6. Where will your name be shelved? – Writing World

This is a very common topic, and it has been approached on Goodreads. I’ll put some of those top comments here – or at least what I find most interesting.

  • To be shelved next to a popular author
  • To be shelved by their favorite author
  • To be more memorable
  • To hide their family/background
  • To fit their name with their genre/settings – older names for older fictions, newer names for younger fictions
  • To fit the stripper trend of middle name + street name of first home (just to be funny, I think)
  • Change only last name so it’s easier to respond to public outings
  • Avoid hatemail/prejudice from a very touchy subject

My best advice would be look to your common genre first and choose a name to fit that, unless you’re comfortable with your own.

Business Cards

Few things I want to say up front – if you make business cards for your author-face, please have these pieces of information on it: your name, email, and website. I would caution you against normal business card stuff like phone and address because you would not want to hand these out to casual readers or fans. You’re not advertising yourself, you’re advertising your book.

If you want to put your genre – go for it.

If you want to put the name of your series – go for it.

If you want to put a quote from your book or your favorite review so far, as quoted by some famous uppity-up author – then all mighty heck – go for it!

But please take into consideration who is looking at these business cards and why you’re printing them.

A lot of business cards are rather plain, with only a small logo from the business in the corner, but since you’re an author/writer, then you can have as much freedom as you want with these. I would recommend your cover, or another thought-provoking image for the back. Here’s a sample good design:

Slice of Life default

Maybe here you can include a few slices of covers from a book series, or character head-shots/drawings. I like using pictures more than words because a picture is worth more than a thousand words, etc. They sit better in my mind than a specific quote, which I’m less likely to recall. It’s easier to remember an image than it is a sentence.

If you can convince your cover artist to do a small design for business cards, maybe that might be a good idea. That way it doesn’t look the exact same as your book cover, but it still holds the same theme.

Your face could work – and I’m sorry how superficial it sounds – but you should have a nice set of photographs and be slightly photogenic. I would recommend to have professional photos taken. Plain backdrop, nice outfit, etc.

If you can’t have an image, aim for something simple. Print a word or short phrase from your writing. Like a code-word from your books, your genre, a simple phrase like the one shown below.

Hello Black

These are only a few ideas. If you don’t have any designs in mind and/or can’t make one yourself, I would recommend to travel to Moo and see what they already have. They have a huge list of pre-made designs, and this is their line of work. They’re good at what they do. I’ve used them a few times already.