True Confession: I Want to Change My Name

Why? I can’t pin it down. Partly as a marketing move, because Patricia [and its variations] is a middle-aged name [or older?] and the books I’m writing now are targeting a very wide audience which includes YA readers.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to admit that part in public, but then I read this article about a new author in the UK, Ali Knight. She writes thrillers.

She had to come up with a pseudonym at her publisher’s request because in the UK her real name “Alison” is seen as middle-aged and safe, boring. And her surname “Potter” creates other issues. Does she want people to see her name and immediately think of wizards or rabbits wearing jackets?

This bothered her.

And me? I’ve been itching for an agent or publisher to tell me to create a pseudonym for my new books.

And we get back to why. And I don’t know. It’s just an itch, and more than that, a “knowledge” that it’s something I really should do when my fantasy novels are published.

So, you’d think this would thrill me. “Okay, let’s do it! Let’s come up with a new name!” But it’s hard. It’s hard because every first name I think of, I immediately think of another author–often someone I know–with the same name.  And it feels particularly awkward when that author is using their real name. Like I’m stealing.

I thought of Phoebe.  Why? Because it’s almost PB, my initials.

Then I thought of family names. Vida, Carrie, Demma, Josephine (yikes). I think of family surnames. Nicholas, Beasley, Walden, James. This isn’t helping, is it? (Although I have an urge to use some combination of the above, feeling very Victorian about it all.)

But if I do, isn’t that negating my initial acknowledgement that a new pseudonym should reach to a younger reader?

So, I continue to ponder.

Have you ever wanted to change your name? For real life purposes? For writing purposes? Do you know what you wish it to be?

Tell me about it!

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16 Comments

Filed under Writers, Writing

16 responses to “True Confession: I Want to Change My Name

  1. I hate my first name. It’s tough growing up with such a matronly name. I always itched to go by my middle name but whenever I mentioned it as a child, my father would get his feelings hurt – he named me after his favorite great-aunt. Now that he’s gone…well, I sometimes feel guilty for swearing I will not allow myself to be published under my real (IF I ever get published). It’s certainly a dilemma, huh?

    • Well, it’s never too late to start using your middle name professionally if that’s what you want to do. Or any name you want to use, for that matter. Before you publish is the perfect time to do that. Depending on subject matter, some people choose a pseudonym and never let their “real” name be identified with it. I know a hugely successful woman who writes very sexy erotica. It has been a lucrative venture and she loves it, and her readers, but she also feels uneasy being too visible in the real world and so–she isn’t.

  2. Timothy Miller

    I’ve about half-convinced myself that I’m going to market the children’s book as “Moses Miller” (my great-great-grand-daddy’s name), to keep it separate from my other work.

  3. Annie

    I HAVE changed my name, as you know. And I have a list of handy pseudonyms for WHEN I’m published in various genres.

    Because really? One must be prepared!

  4. denise

    Demma James or Jaimee Nicholas would make a great au courant pseudonym…as for me, I would want to use my maiden name instead of my married name

    • You think Demma would work? I think it’s unusual and like it, but I figured it was too odd. Thanks!

      A lot of women writers use their maiden names. It’s “theirs” but it also gives them some privacy by not having their name show up with addresses, phone numbers, etc.

      • denise

        I think Demma is unusual enough to make it cool. There are several Gemmas out there, many Emmas, but I like Demma better–I like “D” names. lol. It give it the Euro flair that makes people love it–you could start a trend.

        The reasons you gave for using one’s maiden name are my reasons for wanting to use it.

      • I’m seriously considering Demma James since it combines two of my great-grandmothers’ names. One was a James and Demma, you already know about!

        Maiden names work really well for a number of reasons, including, the feel like “you.”

      • denise

        Go for it! It helps keep the family names alive and honors them through generations.

  5. I seriously considered changing my last name because I have some serious issues with my father (none of which need exploring at this juncture), and I was going to go with Redford, which is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. I liked it. It was simple. It sounded like a nice name.

    However (and this is really, really silly), I didn’t like my signature with that name. And I didn’t have the money for the legal fees. And now I’ve reached a point where I really don’t give a damn about the connection to my father. He’s out of my life and it’s fine.

    So…maybe someday if I need a pen name. (grin)

    • Sarah Redford. It’s interesting, that I like the way that looks. But I do understand not liking your signature. Believe me, I would definitely test that out before choosing!

  6. I’m glad it isn’t just me that is cursed with a middle-aged name. I’m called Margaret. Like, Tory Prime Minister Margaret. Like got crushed under a barn door martyr Margaret. Like everyone’s aunty Margaret. It is NOT a youthful name. I’m really struggling with this – I want to be authentically me, but I want to sound neither twinset and pearls, nor water colour painted Irish village (Maggie). Marge sounds like the Simpsons… so what what?

    I did a post about it in NaNoWriMo as inspiration: http://www.darcytodracula.com/2011/11/choosing-pen-names-and-other-nanowrimo.html

    My little sister is called Patricia. We call her Gilly… Go figure!

    • Gilly! Oh, I like that. Is it pronounced with a hard G? If I went by my porn star name (your post on your nana blog) I’d be Prissy Llewellyn. Not quite what I’m looking for! Demma Llewellyn. Hmmm.

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