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I’m thinking of changing the subheading on my blog to “Self publishing is like being pecked to death by a duck”. So many fiddly damned decisions to make. A billion and one new skills to master. I can see why so many authors fall prey to the “let us do it all for you” vultures out there. It would be so much easier …
However, we’re not going to slide into self-pity here. As they say, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, so let’s crack out the cutlery and get started.
But as it turns out, there’s no need for the pachyderms of the world to start shaking in their baggy grey skins just yet. Leaving aside for the moment the whole have you written a book yet? have you revised and edited and made sure it’s a good book? thing, the very firstest of all first decisions has me stumped.
What is my name?
You can’t run without legs, and you can’t start platform-building and getting your name known on Goodreads and Twitter and all the rest of it until you settle on your writerly name.
For reasons to do with a paranoid addiction to privacy and the fact that half the world misspells my real name (which is long), I don’t want to use my actual name. I had settled on the name “Marina Finn”, which is close enough to my real name to feel like me while still being short and memorable, when I made a very sad discovery.
There is already an author named “Maria Finn”. She seems to write memoir and cookbooks, so she’s not in the same fields as me, so possibly I could still go with Marina Finn. But I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to piggyback on her success, or to confuse my books with hers, so I don’t feel right about Marina Finn any more. (Sad face.)
But never fear! There are still options! We love options, preferably with sauce, but when there’s too many we dither in front of the pachyderm smorgasbord, unable to choose.
How about adding my middle initial? Marina K Finn sounds different enough from Maria Finn, doesn’t it? Or I could follow the greats like Tolkien, Rowling and Martin all the way down the initial path to MK Finn. (Could be good if I ever start writing science fiction or thrillers, whose male audiences often look askance at books written by women.)
But if I’m not going to use my real name anyway, why not go the whole hog and make up something completely unrelated? That’s always been a popular choice with authors. For instance, I quite fancy being a Piper. There don’t seem to be any authors called Piper Finn – but the twitter handle’s already taken. How about Piper O’Connor? Sounds kind of young and jaunty.
Or I could revert to my maiden name. I’m actually not keen on this one, though I’m not sure why. Does it seem weird that even as a child I wanted to marry someone whose name started with “E” or “F” because those names always seemed to be in the prime spot on the shelves in the bookshops? It does? Damn, I thought you were going to say that.
I guess I’m leaning toward Marina K Finn at the moment. Piper is tempting but it would feel strange to start answering to another name. What do you think, Internet? What would you do if you were me?
For a beautiful burst of colour, check out Matt’s Japanese flower blanket. So gorgeous! I’m making a scarf with this pattern, but so far my scarf is only six flowers long, so it could be a long while before I get to wear it. In the meantime, I’ll just have to admire his.
David Alistair Hayden posts on how to win followers and influence readers on Wattpad.
Elizabeth Bear on how to move past that stage where your writing is getting “rave rejections”, ie I loved this but …
Seth Godin muses on the end of bookstores: Basically, people have too many other amusements to bother with reading, especially when so many have suffered under well-meaning but dull education programs that make reading a chore. “More than once, friends have said, ‘you should be really pleased, I even finished your new book.’ My guess is that no one says that to Laurence Fishburne about his new movie.”
Had to laugh at that, and it’s a valid point, but I don’t believe you can therefore assume reading is dead – only that there might be many more readers if education didn’t insist on foisting “worthy” books on kids. But judging by the kind of books my girls are assigned (eg Uglies by Scott Westerfeld), things have changed a lot even since I was at school, and the future of reading seems pretty healthy.