Platform Building 201: The Name of the Game

Janalyn Voigt, Author of Novel Books, continues the series on Platform Building.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Words have meaning and names have power. ~Author Unknown

The above quotes seem to counter one another. As writers, we know words have meaning and power, and names are made up of words. Does your name help or hinder your writing career?

Does your name draw the right kind of attention?

A romance writer with a name like Susan Hart is ahead of the game. Susan Hazard has a little more work to do in reaching an audience. Make sure your name does not dredge up negative connotations for a potential purchaser.

Is your name memorable?

For James Smith and Mary Johnson, common names can make them forgettable. Or perhaps your name is hard to pronounce or spell, like mine.

Does your name pique curiosity?

While my last name is hard to spell, my first makes people curious. How did I get such an unusual name? If your name sparks interest, use it. If not, consider adopting one that does.

Does your name suit your genre?

Men who write within female readership genres sometimes take female pen names. Similarly, women who write in male-dominated genres sometimes take male pen names. Another way to keep gender low key is to use initials or gender-neutral names.

Is your name permanent?

Unmarried women writers sometimes encounter a problem when they marry. Using their husband’s last name can lose an established identity. So they might tack on the husband’s last name. Mary Jones becomes Mary Jones Marshall, or might just remain Mary Jones.


Use Your Real Name: This is the best option if it’s feasible.

Pen Name: This can afford you privacy but complicate your life and social networking connections. Only go this route if your name is a real problem.

Use Your Middle Name: Perhaps Agnes Smith has a memorable middle name like Cinderella. She could become Cinderella Smith.

Use Initials: Initials help disguise your gender, if that’s an issue within your chosen genre(s).

Create an Alternate Identity: For example, Stever Robbins goes by “The Get-It-Done Guy.” Carla Williams is “The Spiritual Mom.” Scott Ginsberg calls himself “That Guy With a Name Tag.” Don’t laugh. He’s making 6 figures.

The key to using your brand as your name is to draw it from your particular mission. In my examples, Stever helps others improve their efficiency, Carla mentors from the heart and Scott markets approachability.


Decide which name will grace your book covers.
Next time we’ll go into some of the whys and hows of owning a website.

Which of the naming solutions appeals to you?


This post appeared January 5, 2010 on Author Haven. Used by kind permission.

Janalyn Voigt writes  novel books.

DAWNSINGER, book one of her TALES OF FAERAVEN trilogy, will release with Port Yonder press. Her publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press and Pentecostal Evangel. Janalyn is affiliated with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and has been a NCWA member since 2008.  Visit her website at


One thought on “Platform Building 201: The Name of the Game

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