All right folks, a question popped up today that is worth taking a day or two to discuss. Namely: what name do you write under?
That’s not so tough if your name is Stephen King, (as long as you’re THE Stephen King. If you’re not, considering becoming a plumber.) But if your name is unusual, you have to ask whether it’s an asset or a liability.
Along those lines, Gerhi posted the following question today:
My name, as I use it now, is “Gerhi Janse van Vuuren”. Shortened first name (unique) and three parts to the surname. I can never see myself doing a full name authoring which would be “Gerhardus Petrus Benjamin Janse van Vuuren”. Just using my initials GPB in front of Janse van Vuuren or GJ in front of van Vuuren also doesn’t want to fly.
Just using my own names I can work out quite a number of pseudonyms but I would like to write as me.
Problems: Very few English speakers can pronounce my name correctly. It is with a hard ‘G’ and a flat ‘e’.
People often think I’m female, I’m not.
I could go with “Gerhard” but will I lose the uniqueness. The same with “Gary” or “Gerald”. In fact, I could never see myself as a “Gary”.
Edgar Rice Burroughs made a triple name work but I’ve got four parts. I’ll never be Stephen King.
So, should I just be me or should I work up another name? I’m not even asking what I should register as a domain, just, what should I use as my author name?
Randy sez: I’m going to assume you are planning to publish in English. You have a bunch of options, each with advantages and disadvantages.
1) Gerhi Janse van Vuuren. Advantages: It’s your real name, so your obnoxious third grade teacher who said you’d never amount to anything will KNOW she was wrong when you get famous. Disadvantages: It’s quite a long name; 3 of the 4 parts of it will be badly mispronounced by most English speakers; it’s your real name, so the stalkers will have an easier time tracking you down.
2) Gerhi van Vuuren. Advantages: It’s still your real name. Disadvantages: 2 of the 3 parts are still going to be massacred by English speakers.
3) G.P. van Vuuren. Advantages: It’s short, and relatively easy to remember because now all the hard parts are focused in the last name; 2 leading initials makes you sound like a British author in the same league as T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and numerous others. Disadvantages: It loses your first name.
4) Anglicize it to something like Gary van Buren. Advantages: Easy to pronounce. Disadvantages: It’s lost the Dutch connection and now sounds like you’re one of the billions of American writers.
5) Choose a pen name not related to your real name. Advantages and Disadvantages are the same as #4.
This is a hard problem, and I don’t know how to advise you. So let’s have a contest! My blog readers are among the brightest folks in the galaxy, so one of them is sure to have a good answer.
Blog readers: post a suggestion for Gerhi as a comment. He gets to choose who gave the best answer. The winner gets a free critique from me of one page of their current work in progress.
Now I’ll answer a couple of other questions. Kristi has decided to move her blog from Blogspot.com to a real web site:
Maybe I can leave the blogspot site up, with a final posting that says the blog has moved and give a link to my domain/blog page?
If you have your blog on your website page, how do you get the comments function (like this one) to display?
Randy sez: Yes on question #1. For question #2: comments are allowed in most blogging software. I use WordPress for this blog, and comments are easy to set up in the admin section of the blog.
I have neither a blog nor a website. A friend developed a ministry website, but she now finds that the search engines are not picking it up. She’s encouraging me to develop a website, but since mine would be for ministry, too, I’m not eager to become involved until we can solve the search engine problem.
My friend was advised to have her website designed by a professional. However, we are both retired and on a fixed income, so the financial angle concerns us. Can you give me a ballpark figure for how much it would be to have a professional format a website? Any recommendations? We live in a Portland, Oregon suburb not too far from you, so I’m hoping that you will know someone to give us some professional help –if we can afford it.
Randy sez: We’ll talk about the search engines in due course. The Simpleology course on blogging contains some helpful basic advice on getting traffic to your blog.
As for the cost of a professionally designed web site, that ranges from a few hundred to zillions of dollars, depending on how fancy you want it. The first question one should always ask before creating a web site or a blog is: What is the purpose of this web site (or blog)? The answer to that question will determine how much time, energy, and money you should sink into it. Those are the only resources you have personally available to you–time, energy, and money. Since you have finite amounts of each, you need to think carefully about how you want to allocate them. If a web site or blog is going to consume more of your precious resources than it’s worth, then don’t do it! There are plenty of other things to do in life.
If you have a suggestion for Gerhi, post it as a comment now!