Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hi. My name is

A strange thing occurred to me a few months ago, and since then I've been flummoxed. I'm turning to you, the People of the Internet, for advice.

I am a writer, and I hope to be a published writer someday. Maybe even a well-known writer. Or at least a writer with an ongoing career in the business. The problem is my name. You see, there are at least two other writers I've heard of with the name Laura Hughes. *cue panic attack*


How can I stand out in the world of publishing if I'm constantly being mixed up with those other Laura Hughes writers? Not to mention the artist, the physician, the web developer, the actress, and the several dozen other Laura Hughes-who-are-not-me who turn up in a google search. I can't even stand out in a FREAKING GOOGLE SEARCH?! Yikes!

Well, I thought innocently, I can always publish under my maiden name. It's certainly not a common name. Herbenick. You likely don't know anyone by that name, unless you maybe heard of my sister, Debby Herbenick. It's not entirely unlikely. She has a Wikipedia entry AND an Amazon page. And no one would EVER mistake her books for mine. She writes nonfiction, and her alter-ego is The Sex Professor. So.

So I googled Laura Herbenick. I found a few references to myself, and a gajillion entries for Debby. At least there were no other Laura Herbenicks to confuse me with. But who knows me by that name? I've been Laura Hughes for more than 15 years!

I must have been a little slap-happy, because for a whole three minutes I considered publishing under the name Mittens Morgul. Ahem. I don't think so.

This is actually Mittens Morgul. No, kitty doesn't write.
And now on to the Reader Interaction Portion of today's post: (no, you don't actually have to do anything if you don't want to. But you made it this far, and I want to love you, so please share if you have any advice.)

I hope to someday have an agent, and I'm sure this is the kind of thing that they will help me decide. In the mean time, is your "real" name so common that you're considering publishing under a different name? Or have you already done that? Did you choose a pseudonym for another unrelated reason? Why? What would you do in my shoes?

A. Keep your real name. It's my name, and I don't care who else uses it.

B. Use the maiden name. No, I swear we aren't getting divorced, sweetie.

C. Pick another name entirely. Yes, that really is me. See? That's my picture on the back cover! No, I don't look that good today because I don't pay a professional hair and makeup artist to spruce me up every day. YES FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME, I SWEAR THAT'S REALLY ME!


  1. Keep your real name! It's a nice, straightforward, easy-to-pronounce name. I'm keeping mine, despite having met IN PERSON over a dozen Lindsay Smiths. I WILL DEFEAT THEM ALL FOR NAME SUPREMACY.

    1. Also, I kinda like the thought that any crazies out there intent on stalking me are going to have a hell of a time telling me from all the other Lindsay Smiths out there...

  2. I'd just go with Mittens Morgul.


    Failing that, Laura Hughes. Because there may be OTHER Laura Hughses, but you're the BEST one. <3

  3. I'll be up front, I'm likely NOT going to be of much help here...

    I write under a pseudonym. Alexander Pierce is not my real name! It's not that I don't like my name, it works great for my day to day life and it's what everyone knows me as.

    It's mostly because I'm from a family of ministers and church folk, and I've written some stories in the past that might potentially create backlash, not from them onto me, but from people in their churches onto them as a method of getting to me. Not that I write anything too racy or controversial, but some of my stories do put a less than golden light on organized religion. Write what you know right?

    I'm not published yet, nor have I set up with an agent, and I sincerely hope they'll help me sort it out. You see, the pseudonym I've been working under, which is my two middle names, is shared by no less than six other writers, some of which ARE controversial.

    1. Ah. There you go. As far as controversial goes, my sister has that tied up with a neat little bow! :D

      It is hard to ensure that family won't be negatively affected by your writing, especially if there is an element that some people might find offensive. Then again, there will likely be someone out there who would take offense to nearly anything, so I wouldn't even try to be inoffensive. It's an impossible task.

      Good luck!

  4. Submit using your real name. Once you have an agent and a publisher on board, at that point you can let them know you're willing to utilize a pseudonym if they prefer. Depending upon what you've written, a publisher may want to use a specific surname so your book will be merchandised on a shelf beside a well-known author's work. For example, if you write epic fantasy, you might be saddled with the name Martinson so you can be in the sweet spot to the right of that guy who wrote all those books about thrones and games and stuff.

    I actually decided long ago to utilize my full name, middle included, as my author name. "Ian Healy" is a soft-sounding name, full of squealing "eeees". By breaking up those sounds with a solid Thomas, I have a name that sounds good when spoken. The one frustration I have is that my first name is so much shorter (letters-wise) than the others that there is only really one way to put it on the cover of a book that looks good. But that's my cross to bear when I design a cover.

    1. Thanks for the advice! That's pretty much what I was thinking. It should be up to agents and editors. If they think it's a problem, we'll work from there.

      I wouldn't mind being crammed on a shelf next to a throne and some games, though! :D

  5. I say use the ole Initials approach. My name isn't all that popular - Tonya J Loveless - but since so many people call me Tawn-ya instead of Tone-ya, I go by T.J. IRL anyway LOL L.H. Hughes. How's that?

    1. Actually, my middle name is Anne, so it could be L.A. Hughes, or L.A.H. Hughes. I kind of like L.A. Hughes. Makes me sound all Hollywood. :D

    2. Oooohhh...I like the whole Hollywood feel. Definitely go with L.A. Hughes! Careful of the flashing lights :)

  6. I say definitely keep some portion of your name. I've given my blog site the name I've always thought I would use as my author name (J. Marie Rundquist) , even though no one in my real life calls me Marie and when anyone uses it online it still throws me. I like the name Janet, but I think part of me always feels like our middle names get lost and this is one way to bring it to life. Even when people online use "J", that still feels more natural than Marie, though.

    So, as you can see, I have the same dilemma, except not really the same, since my name isn't common, but the same in that I don't know what to do. I am so very much not any help, here.

    Bottom line for me? I think at minimum, somewhere in your author name should be the real you, especially if you want people picking up your book to make the connection.

  7. Just use your full name: Laura Herbernick Hughes. Or L. H. Hughes. I don't like the idea of writing under a pen name, personally, but my name is pretty unique to me, so I don't have that problem.

    Just become more famous than all the other Laura Hugheses out there and you'll be fine! XD

  8. I use a pseudonym for that very reason. My real first name (which does start with the letter J) is super common). J or Jro is my true real life nickname and what all of my students, co-workers and friends call me so I answer to it.. Brown is another family name. And the combination is me, all me, on the Internet. My real name was very, very taken. No URL, no twitter handle, nothing at all available for me.

    The best part is, since my book's not out yet, I'm keeping it hidden from my real life peeps, and as a school teacher that's great. How freeing to be able to curse, be political, be liberal on-line instead of hiding my every move so I don't get "in trouble" with my conservative school district.

    Anyway, I say try a new name, it's fun!

  9. I'm going with a pen name (someday) for the exact opposite reason. My name is unique and difficult to pronounce. If you Google it, you get no one but me and every move I've ever made. It's a little creepy, so I went with my slightly less unique, but still not too common maiden name. Hubby's fine with it. I won't forget to turn around if someone calls it. All is good. :)


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