One of the perks of being a writer is you get to choose your own name. However, out of the billions of combinations available, how do you pick the right one for you? Hopefully this post will provide a few helpful hints.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Why choose a different name?
I’ve recently had to re-invent my author identity. Not because I’ve got mixed up in some international smuggling operation and need to drop off the grid, all Jason Bourne style. Regrettably, the reason is more mundane. I’ve chosen to publish my new novel, SNAP, under a different author name because I’ve advised me to by a literary agent. Her reasoning is that most of my work follows a very different aesthetic from this new series of books.
So why do writers choose to have their work published under a pseudonym?
The motives can be many and varied. The name printed on the front cover of your books is more than a simple identifier. It is an integral part of the writing persona your readers will come to know. In re-naming ourselves, we can capture those aspects of our personality which help shape the stories we write.
In the case of Lemony Snicket, for example, the author re-creates himself as an integral character in his own story.
What to look for in an author name?
So where should you start? One good place is to find authors who write in a similar genre and see what style of names are already in use. This can help fans of a particular genre identify you with the type of book they like to read.
J R Tolkien had some influence on both J K Rowling and George R R Martin as did Arthur C Clarke on Philip K Dick and Robert A Heinlein.
When making my own choice of an author name for SNAP I looked at writers such as Ally Carter, Sarah Sky and Robin Benway. One look at these authors tells you a lot about SNAP.
Also, in this modern age of social media, it’s helpful to select a name which is unique and as yet unused on Facebook, Twitter and the like. An easy to spell, easily searched for name is also good.
Not all of us have the benefit of Roald Dahl as a given name. Although you might choose to use your own name in a different way – Lorrie Porter, is a shortened version of my middle name together with my last name.
Where to find inspiration for the new you?
Finding your author name can be a similar process to finding a name for one of your characters, and all the usual methods apply:
- Film credits – I find this one of the best resources for discovering good character names
- Geography – using countries, regions, cities, towns, villages and rivers worked for the Wombles
- Name generators – the internet has many name generators be it for characters, babies or hobbits
- Reverse first and last names – a simple switch of first and last name can work well
However, I found with my own choice I wanted something more personal, a name which belonged to me. So I looked to my family tree.
I found I had a great-aunt who I’d never been told about. Her name was Lizzie. She was born in the Cardiff workhouse and adopted by an Italian ice-cream maker along with her two brothers. I felt a connection with her and chose Lizzie as my first name.
For my second name, I searched all the family surnames I could find, and finally picked Hexter, borrowed from a young man who married the daughter of another great-aunt.
And so I became Lizzie Hexter, author of SNAP. Now available as an e-book from Amazon, iTunes and Kobo at a very reasonable price. Want to know if I practice what I preach when it comes to writing craft? Read the book and find out. I hope you enjoy it.
Available from Amazon, iTunes and Kobo
About the Author
Lizzie Hexter likes to spin a yarn in more ways than one. She has a passion for writing stories and also a love of all things crochet. She grew up in the north west of England with her two sisters, sharing life, laughter and the contents of their wardrobes.
At age twenty, she moved to London where she enjoyed browsing vintage clothes shops and spending her meagre earnings drinking tea in posh hotels.
Lizzie has since moved back to the north west and lives on a canal boat with her cat, her husband and a great number of books. Her motto is: “Wear what you want, be who you are.”
Snap is Lizzie’s first published novel. She hopes it’s an exciting read, what with the fashion shoots, supermodels, film stars, kidnapping, extortion, stealing huge diamonds and scary gangster overlords, not leaving out the sprinkle of romance and the odd sword fight, of course.