What’s in a name? For an author, everything. Your name is your brand and should be exactly the same across the board ─ on your website, your book covers or published work, your Linkedin profile, your Facebook page and any other social media you utilize. Even your email address should be the same. If your books are by “Patricia,” your email address should not be “Pat,” or “Patty.” If you’re called “Kate,” you should not use another form of this name, like “Kathy” or “Katherine.” Why is this so important?
I received this email from an esteemed colleague, Maria A. Karamitsos, a terrific writer and an associate editor at the Chicago newspaper, The Greek Star :
I would love to get your thoughts. I’m finally putting up a website about my work. Obviously, I’m going to use my name, but here’s the conundrum: middle initial or no middle initial? I use my middle initial in all my writing, never publishing anything without it. Sounds like a trivial thing, but my middle initial happens to be “A” and the last letter in Maria is “A,” so it would look like this: www.mariaakaramitsos.com Looks a little odd with the double A, no?
I had thought to just purchase www.mariakaramitsos.com, however, there are several people out there with the same name. (I’ve not met them, but one that lives in New York has been arrested ─ found this out doing a Google search on ‘Maria Karamitsos’. On the other hand, maybe that would draw some traffic to my site, hee hee.) One suggestion that came up was to use periods, as in maria.a.karamitsos.com. Would that even be memorable? I miss a lot of email because people forget to put the dot in firstname.lastname@example.org. (I had to do that because email@example.com was taken, but sure enough, that person, as far as I can tell, no longer uses that email.)
I’m asking you because I value your opinion. You’re out there as a writer and you know that your platform, your face to the world, is so important, even down to the name.”
I hope my answer to Maria was helpful to her and will also serve as food for thought to anyone who’s not yet published and perhaps just putting together websites and other social media pages:
Wow. So glad you wrote to me about this, because I can truly give you an experienced opinion and since you’re always helping me, I’m pleased at the chance to help you.
I’ve had middle initial/middle name conundrums from the get go. And I learned what I should have done only with bitter, frustrated hindsight.
First of all, purchase both URLS ─ the Mariaakaramitsos.com and the MariaKaramitsos.com. I wish I had bought PatriciaDavis.com, but I didn’t, and now if I want to buy it, because I’ve already developed a platform, whoever owns it knows I want it and wants to charge me several thousand dollars. Why? Most people ignore my middle initial, “V” in “patriciavdavis.com.” I’ve had so many emails go to patricia@PatriciaDavis.com and people telling me they sent emails to my address but never received an answer. In fact, even my publisher for The Diva Doctrine sent emails to that address, and after we cleared up the problem as to why I “wasn’t responding to them,” they still got my name wrong and my name on the cover had to be corrected from “Patricia Davis” to “Patricia V. Davis.” (For the record, “Patricia Davis” is an aromatherapy author. Due to the above mistake, The Diva Doctrine was listed under her aromatherapy titles on Barnes & Noble’s website and it took quite a lot of work for my lovely editor at Cedar Fort Press to get that corrected and have the book listed as by the same author who wrote Harlot’s Sauce, my first book. Amazon got it right, but only after I’d made a few phone calls to them.)
That’s why if I had the opportunity to do it again, I would buy the PatriciaDavis.com URL just so I could have it automatically forwarded to patriciaVdavis.com But now the only thing I can do is always emphasize the letter “V” between my first and last name by capitalizing it. Nonetheless, people still ignore sometimes. It’s as though no one even notices that it’s there.
Therefore, if you have two “a’s” in mariaakaramitsos.com the second “a” will not be noticed, or perhaps people will assume it’s a typo.
You might also be wondering why I changed my name from “Patricia Volonakis Davis,” under which I published my first book, to “Patricia V. Davis.” Like you, I wrote for many years under that name, so when Harlot’s Sauce was about to be published, I thought of two things: I wanted people who were already familiar with my work to know I’d written a book, so, even though I’d remarried, since “Volonakis” is a Greek name and the book was about Greece, I thought the middle name would help promote my book.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a mistake. As an unknown author, with only a first book out, my Greek name was continually misspelled by retail booksellers. Readers who walked into bookstores were forever being told, “I’m sorry–we can’t find that book.” When they were pressed, “Did you spell the middle name right?” the answer always was, “Ohhhh. Yeah ─ here it is.”
That was why I dropped the middle name for my second book. I believed I’d already established myself as an author and readers and booksellers both would recognize me by the “V” in Patricia V. Davis. Should have made it easier to spell and remember, right? Wrong! Another marketing mistake. They dropped the “V” altogether, again like it wasn’t there and simply referred to me as “Patricia Davis.” Apart from the problems I had with my book cover, Amazon and Barnes & Noble resulting from this, I’ve been introduced at speaking engagements incorrectly, and my website is often incorrectly listed as “patriciadavis.com.” There is no way for an interested reader to find me at that address, something that’s obviously crucial if I want to sell my books.
I suppose I should be thankful that so far no Patricia Volonakis’s have gotten arrested. In fact, there’ only one other whom I’ve found so far and she’s on my Facebook page, but there are plenty of Patricia Davis’s getting arrested. (One got arrested for beating up her own mother.) Google Alert loves to send me those notifications. So far this year Google thinks I robbed a 7-11 in Florida and got arrested for prostitution. Not to mention beating up my mother.
So what’s my advice? Buy Maria Karamitsos dot com, but also buy Maria A Karamitsos dot com, just in case, and have one or the other automatically forward to the one you decide to use for your author website. My thought is to use the single “a” one as the URL for your website, because keeping your name as simple as possible for booksellers might help them find your book more easily in their databases. Even so, be warned: get used to spelling out your name, because as easy as “Karamitsos” and “Volonakis” are to a Greek, you’ll be shocked at how difficult most people will find them.
I’m now in automatic mode whenever I use the name “Volonakis.” I say, “It’s Patricia Vo-LOH- NAAAA-kiss –that’s V like ‘Victor,’ O, L like ‘lake,’ O, N like ‘Nancy’ (that’s my mother’s name, by the way. You know ─ the woman I beat up after I robbed the 7-11 in Florida) A, K like ‘kite,’ I, and then S like ‘Sam.’ Consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant. Want me to spell it again?”
My thoughts are that you call yourself Maria A. Karamitsos, insist on getting that name put on your book, but use the simpler version without the initial for your email addy and your URL. Then on your website, write “Welcome to the website of writer, Maria A.Karamitsos” right at the top. Be prepared to bite your tongue when people get it wrong or when they mispronounce it and brace yourself to spend a lot of time trying to get a hold of someone at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
And there you have it, fellow writers ─ my long-winded and somewhat tongue-in-cheek reply to Maria A. Karamitsos. (Don’t forget the “A,” please.) I hope writers out there find it useful in your name branding and future publishing endeavors…er… Mr. or Ms. Whatever-Your-Name-Is.
Patricia V. Davis is a bestselling author and the founder of The Women’s PowerStrategy™ Conference. She will be moderating the Women’s National Book Association San Francisco Chapter Author Readings at Bookshop West Portal this October 1st.