No, I’m not encouraging you to work out (although it’s not bad to take care of your body so your mind is free). But I am encouraging you to brand yourself. Now, I’m betting you’re thinking “she wants me to pick a niche and only write that”. You’d be wrong. I’m more focused on helping you “brand” yourself so readers/publishers/editors/other authors can find you.
What exactly do I mean? Here’s an example that I think most can relate to. It’s JOB SEARCH time. Yup, you’ve graduated from college and it’s time to find THE JOB for you. You spend all this time learning and you’re now eager to share all this knowledge. You glue yourself to your computer for hours on end looking over all the possibilities and then… you find it! It’s your perfect job. You tweak and tweak your resume and it’s perfect; you’re guaranteed to get this job based on your resume; and you hit send. Now the wait begins. You wait and wait and wait and never hear from them. What could possibly gone wrong?
Oh wait, did you forget to “brand” yourself? In all that tweaking, did you take the time to put your name and contact information on the resume? You did? Was your email something professional? Like maybe your first initial and last name at wherever? Or did you use the email address you’ve had since high school – firstname.lastname@example.org?
Think about it. You’d want to show your best to a possible employer why not do that for your writing career? When you’re starting out, and your picking your pen name (or you already have one), here are my suggestions:
Pick something that is relatively easy to spell pronounce. Just like when you’re naming your children or characters, it’s harder for people to communicate with them if they’ve got a difficult name so why inflict that on your readership?
Make it something that you’ll respond to. Eventually you will end up at a professional conference (RWA/RT/GRL/BEA/ALA/EPIC/etc.) and people will be using this name. It would be a shame if you’re walking across the lobby of the hotel and a reader is trying to get your attention and you just walk on by because you don’t realize they’re calling your name. You’ve probably just lost at least ten readers from that – why? The reader thinks you’re a snob and tells all their friends not to buy your books.
Establish accounts in that name. Email/Facebook/Twitter/website/whatever else. Make it easy on those that need to contact you to be able to. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent trying to find the correct email address for an author to send them information (whether it’s their letter, galley, edits, etc.). AND don’t forget to have that email address on not only your manuscripts but your website and your social media accounts. Make it easy for readers to reach you and tell you how much they loved your book
Once you’ve taken this all into consideration, have fun picking a name and then go forward. Eventually, you’ll need to think about things like a logo, your website design, promotional items and a slew of other things but there are professionals out there that can help you with that.
Now – pick your name, write that wonderful story inside you, remember to put your real name, pen name and email address on the manuscript and FOLLOWING SUBMISSION GUIDELINES, submit that puppy.