Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brand X

A lot of people have been talking about author brands. (Stina did a good post that explains it pretty well.) I’m no expert on the subject. In fact, I screwed up from the get-go by using Solvang Sherrie for my blogspot address instead of Sherrie Petersen. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called Solvang as a result. (Note: it’s the town I live in, not my name!)

Actress Sherrie Peterson
But say you go to brand yourself, only to find out that someone beat you there, stole your name before you had a chance to lay claim. Google Sherrie Peterson and you’ll find an actress. Not me. But that’s who comes up when you spell my name wrong. (I’m “en” instead of “on.”)

Author Matthew J. Kirby added his middle initial when he found writers (and a whole lot of other people!) with the same name.

Another Matthew I know had a similar problem. Only the person who shares his name turns out to be a porn star. X-rated images are NOT what you want your fans to come across, especially when you're writing for the under 18 crowd! You may recognize him from his blog, The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. What you may not know is why he recently changed his name from Matthew Rush to Matthew MacNish.

How did you discover that you shared the same name as a porn star?
I don't remember. It was years ago, and I can only assume I just Googled my name, and he came up (pun intended).

Ha! Yeah, I guess that particular job lends itself to all sorts of punny possibilities. Why'd you decide to change your last name instead of just adding an initial or using your middle name?
Well the pen name MacNish actually is my middle name. Sort of. My middle name is Minneice, which is an anglicized version of my grandmother's maiden name, which was MacNish, from her clan in Scotland.

Very cool. I love the history of names like this. You know I have some Scottish ancestors, too, on the Stevens side of my family.
Scottish is awesome.

I agree! So tell me, what kind of books do you write? Anything with crossover appeal for the other Matthew Rush's audience? :-)
Hmm. Interesting question. I've only written one novel, and I call it YA Rural Fantasy, but that's sort of a joke. There are no erotic scenes so I'm not sure how excited fans of the famous Matthew Rush would get.

Rural Fantasy? That's a subgenre I haven't come across yet!
Do you miss using your real name on the internet?
Not really. It's fun to have a pen name.

Has it caused any confusion for people who already knew you as Matthew Rush?
Just a few, but I didn't know them well, and they figured it out soon enough.

Well, Matthew, here's hoping one day you're just as famous as the other guy who shares your name. Though, you know, not for the same reason... (Sorry, you it probably makes you crazy, but it kinda still cracks me up!)
Don't feel bad about laughing about it for one second ... it's HILARIOUS. I still laugh about it a lot myself.

Thanks for sharing the reasons behind your name change. You've obviously maintained your sense of humor about it :P
* * * * * * * * * * *

So tell me -- have you ever Googled your name and been surprised by the results? What brand are you representing on the internet?


Anne Gallagher said...

Anne Gallagher is a pseudonym from my aunt, great-grandmother and part of my daughter's name. My real name you can't pronounce so I don't want to use it. Unless I go to France.

I have googled Anne Gallagher and there are a few but the most famous one is a chef in New York City. Funny I used to be a chef too.

Anne Gallagher said...

And that's funny about Matthew.

Laura Pauling said...

That's good Matthew figured it out. It's funny as long as it doesn't happen to me! Though I'd have no probably with a pen name. and yes, Sherrie for a long I though Solvang was your last name. :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

There's a clothing designer named Caroline Rose. So far I haven't found anyone with my full name.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Oh that's awesome! I didn't know about the porn star part, but that's just classic. And I'm sure Matthew will become even more famous than that other guy. :)

I switched from Susan Quinn to Susan Kaye Quinn when my book came out - I needed something distinctive because, good lord, there's a lot of Susan Quinn's out there - even a couple of authors! It was easy since my middle name is also my mom's name - and she's my biggest fan. :)

Kristan Hoffman said...

Luckily my name isn't *too* common (although it isn't completely unique either, which makes me sad b/c growing up I always thought it was)... but I don't think I would mind a pen name. Like Matthew said, it could be fun!

Jamie Ford, NYTimes bestselling author of THE HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, shares his name with a porn actress, lol. He says he figures most people know they've got the wrong one, and that he's probably a bigger disappointment to her fans than vice versa.

Matthew MacNish said...

Thanks so much, Sherrie! This turned out very well. I think I've probably called you Solvang more than once. It's your email address that got me.

The Rural Fantasy thing is supposed to be a play on Urban Fantasy, because mine mostly take place in the wilderness.

Bish Denham said...

I wondered why Matt "changed" his I know.

Mine is sort of a pen name. Bish is a nickname I've been called all my life. Denham is my maiden name. I've found Bishes but no Bish Denhams.)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Ha ha ha! Poor Matthew. This was a fun post, Sherrie! :-)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Omigosh, Matthew -- I love your explanation for Rural Fantasy! You have such a great sense of humor :)

Krispy said...

This is something I think about every once in a while since I blog under a nickname. Otherwise, I've never had to worry about being mistaken for someone else because I have a pretty unique last name, which is saying something for a Chinese last name. So when I google myself, it's basically me that pops up. :P

Matthew's story is pretty hilarious though. The bright side, of course, is now he has a great anecdote to share!

kathrynjankowski said...

There's an illustrator and a scarf designer with my name, and I think I've seen a dancer come up, too.

The designer has the domain name I wanted, so I had to settle for a dash between my first and last names. One of these days I'll actually put a website together. ;-)

Christina Lee said...

And he came "up"--snort!

AWWW yeah-- Hi Matt!! Great interview, Sherrie! I finally was able to nab my actually name (.net) b/c it's so common (happy!)

MG Higgins said...

Interesting story! Thankfully there aren't many people out there with the writing names I use and I was able to buy two domains I wanted. But I haven't really googled my name to see who else pops up. Maybe I should!

Unknown said...

I cracked up when Matt told me why he changed his name. I was thrown at first when he left a comment on my blog. Naturally I thought he was a new follower.

Lydia Kang said...

My name is fairly unique but there are two others out there who show up in a googling--a lawyer and a graphic designer. It's nice to know the Lydia Kangs of the world appear to be functional members of society.

Cialina at said...

My name is really unique so if I do google myself, I find myself. Pretty handy, but it also makes me easy to stalk.

Angela said...

I'm thankful Felsted is isn't a very common name. In fact, the only other Angela Felsted I'm aware of is a cousin of my husbands. And she's a good person of sound character so it's more likely I'd do something to embarrass her rather than her embarrassing me.

This is so funny, and a great interview. I like rural fantasy. Did you know I write suburban fantasy?

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