What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?
November 18, 2017 Maggie Lynch

Hello Name Tag with Maggie Faire and Maggie Jaimeson crossed out. Maggie Lynch at bottom

I always remember that Shakespeare quote from Romeo and Juliet: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That may be true. In my case, I’ve had three names for books. They are all me, so I hope they smell as sweet. However, it is time to just have one name. I’ve decided my one name is Maggie Lynch, which is my real name.

Authors make many different choices with their name. Should they use their birth name? Their married name? A pen name? Should they have a different name for each genre? Should they have a different name for children vs adults? As publishing changes and author careers change, will that name still be the one(s) they want to live with? I had the same problem in choosing a name. If you build your readership based on a particular name it is not easy to make that change later in one’s career. For authors, their name is their brand. That’s why big businesses spend thousands of dollars in choosing a name, because it is hard to change once you’ve built a following.

When I started selling my short stories, way back in the early 1980’s I used my real name–my married name at that time. Later, after a divorce and remarriage, I began writing novels and needed to decide if I wanted to keep the name I’d established with short stories. The answer was no. It was no longer mine, as I changed my name back to my maiden name when I divorced. Did I want to use my maiden name? That was mine forever. Or my new married name to honor all the support of my husband?

I was ensconced in Academia at that time and, after checking with several senior colleagues, I realized that a number of academics did not look kindly on me writing genre fiction. The tech folks thought my SF stories were cool, but the English folks and Education folks had a particular prejudice against my romance fiction. I was already publishing text books under my given name Maggie McVay Lynch and many academics thought I would “taint” my reputation by writing genre fiction. To be safe, I took a pen name.

book cover - healing notes by maggie jaimesonI wanted to use Maggie James–short, easy to spell, and my husband’s name is James. Unfortunately, at that time, another author had that name and a ten year career writing Native American romance. I didn’t write in that genre and didn’t want to be confused with her. So, I tried for Jameson or Jamison–lots of people have that name and websites. Too crowded for me. I ended up with Jaimeson, a unique spelling that was rarely used for girls names in Ireland–nickname Jaime. That became my name for all adult fiction. The big mistake I made with this name is that no one can spell it except a few fans of a particular underground British MC and rapper. So, I end up losing people who google the more common variations of the surname.

book cover chameleon the awakening by maggie faireWhen I decided to write Young Adult books, I was advised by many authors that I needed a different pen name for that. One wouldn’t want an unsuspecting teen to find my adult romances and accidentally read a sex scene. So, I went with that advice and chose Maggie Faire–a name I actually love for my fantasy series. I’ve received some fan comments on liking the name as well. NOTE: For the record, I later learned that the majority of teens today know more about sex than I do and many of them read much sexier stuff in other YA books than I will ever write. So much for the save-their-innocence reason for a pen name.

For a number of years I maintained three websites–one for each name–three Facebook pages, three Twitter pages, three G+ pages, etc. As I wrote and published more books it was becoming too much to keep up with them. Three years ago, I combined all my identities into one website, one Facebook page, one Twitter profile, etc. all under Maggie Lynch. That saved me a lot of work, but now I created a different problem. People see me all over the Internet as Maggie Lynch. Though I make it clear in my bios that I write under other pen names, no one reads or remembers those. What people encounter are my book covers with other names on them. Even though every vendor lists me as Maggie Lynch along with the pen name, no one looks at that. They look at the covers.

After much angst and wondering how much confusion I’m going to cause, I’ve decided I’m changing all my fiction covers to be Maggie Lynch. Better to change now than to wait until I have even more books out next year. My name will always use the same font on all the covers. So, over the next two months you will see my covers changing everywhere around the net–here on my website, at Windtree Press, at Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Nook, Google and even on my print books. Though those will take a long time to disappear. Who knows, maybe print copies with the old names will become collectors items. <big grin>

The story will be the same, I’m still the same person and will continue to write the stories of men and women making heroic choices one messy moment at a time. But now all my books will be easier to find under one name.

So, do you think the Maggie Lynch name will still smell as sweet?

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