A rose by any other name . . . . A word about that all essential ingredient — the name. Does it stinketh? Or entice with witty fragrance?

This is one of those things people rarely talk about but that actually has a big impact: Names.  By this we mean, not just how you title your books, but your name as an author, what you name your blog / website (and it’s address), and your email.  This may sound ridiculous to you, but consider this . . . .

You are shopping for a wedding photog.  You begin browsing various websites.  Are you really likely to get to Zardog Nine?  Probably not.  First of all, no one has the patience to scroll to the Z.  Second, Zardog?  Sounds like they’re into some serious sci-fi (though it might be a real persons name).  And if you do click onto the site and you find out the guy’s name is John Fargo . . . . it’s just all too weird.

Publishers look at authors this way too.  Your site is Fashion for Mice. wordpress.com. You’ve sent us a book proposal about Malayasian cuisine . . . from your email address foglover45@hotmail.com.  Uh . . . obviously you’re a person with broad interests, but, you come off as scattered and “eccentric” to say the least.  We’d be much happier if the site was East Of the Moon.wordpress.com, talked at least a little about your interest in cuisine as well as your ex-pat life in SF, and your email was nor.kiambeng.cooks@ymail.com.  Presuming your name was Nor Kiambeng.

Studies have shown that people with names in the first half of the alphabet get more breaks. It’s understandable, fatigue sets in and that’s it, people stop looking after around L.  So if you’re picking a name (for yourself, blog, or email), pick one that stands out, in a good way, for whimsy or creativity, that’s relevant to you and/or your interests which you write about, and if you can one that starts with a letter in the first half of the alphabet.

If you have a name you like for writing, keep it.  But don’t screw it up by picking a bad blog name or email that is something completely unrelated to your chosen name, or that features numbers, or obscene language.  Not funny, not professional, and not going to get you published / an agent.

This is 100% completely prejudiced advice, but it comes from having worked in publishing for many years.  We are folks who see a typo on your submission letter, and pass it around for something to laugh at and brighten our days.  It seems cruel but we deal in volume and just don’t have time or patience for people that can’t bother to get it right even though they, unlike us, have all the time in the world to get it right.

The same thing happens if you send in a query by email and your address is something like dianasaurasx@hotchick.com.  You could maybe get away with that if you were submitting a book on paleontology to a small publishes (maybe), but Diana.S.Lee@ucla.edu is a lot less rife with unintended and unwanted meaning.

We’ve seen some pretty bad emails around here, but a weird (not creative) address is always a tip off:


While we can appreciate creative:

  • fieldoheather@  (from a woman named Heather)
  • spunkyisland@ (from a travel writer)
  • printdelight@ (from a writer)

We just delete things like:

  • inmyshoebox@  (serial killer? or child crafts?)
  • Existentiallowboy@ (did they mean lowboy? or cowboy? Are they talking about furniture or the West?)
  • yuck_fu@ (just bad on so many levels, like the person whose address is kittyporn@   even if it’s cat related, ewwww!)

Please, please, stick with gmail, yahoo, aol, or some other neutral address that uses your authorial name.  Better yet, have an address connected to your personal website.

An email from jakes.paxton@paxton-hall.com is something people will open, especially if they can go to the website and see who you are and what you do.  Something like jakes.paxton@gmail.com at least sounds like it’s from a rational person. It’s also memorable.  Who can remember greenspirit0389@mindque.com?  (PS thanks for telling us your month and year of birth, it explains a lot).

Who wants to hear their submissions editor say,” Yeah this manuscript is from Jakes Paxton, we love it, let’s email him. He’s at . . . umm.  . . . What’s he at? That weird address?”   No one is going to cull through all the emails to try and figure out it was. . . Green Spirit 0389.  We’ll just look another writer. It’s easier.

Please, do yourself a favor, use an adult email, even if it’s only for publishing/agent purposes.

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 5:08 AM  Leave a Comment  
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