Friday 2 December 2011

What's in a Name?

I was following a writers' discussion about self-promotion. This being award season for the science fiction and fantasy community, it's a topic on our minds.

One writer, who has a few tasty publications under her belt, said, that to get published by the top magazines, she felt she needed to get her name out there.

And by out there, I guess she meant being active in the social medium (especially twitter), writing articles, giving interviews, meeting people at conferences etc.

Well, that got me a-wondering. I've never really believed that. I figure that people do get plucked out of slush without having a name.  I sold to  professional  paying magazine without having a blog, for instance.  I always feel that story is queen, and that your other accomplishments don't matter a toot.

I guess it's different if you're self-publishing. Then you really want to get name recognition. But I'm happy, at the moment (and watch this space) writing and sending off to magazines.

It's a delicate subject, few people want to come out and say that they are experts in self-promotion.  Most of us (?) want to be recognised for our art.

What do you think? Is getting your name out there important? Will it make a difference to sales?  Have I got a name? And if so, is it a bad name or a good name?


  1. It's not a bad idea to get your name out there. I know when I submit to the same publisher of a magazine or anthology that even if that person doesn't take the first story, other stories have a great chance because they recognize the name.

    If you are selling something by your name only (ebook/print short story to novel, i.e. not a magazine or anthology with other authors attached to it), then people do need to recognize your name. I know I've bought books because I've heard someone else mention an author's name. With the amount of books coming out each year, it's hard to get a book noticed, so word of mouth becomes even greater, whether the person is mentioning the book or the author's name.

  2. I agree with Cherie. It's a good idea to get your name out there. Just blogging and commenting on other writers' blogs is a good start. There's a lot of support in blogland amongst writers.

  3. Well I know who you are so yes you have a name - although, my knowing your name doesn't count for much. :)

    The big pro magazines don't care who you are (okay, they care if you're Stephen King - but no amount of twittering or blogging will make us him) so dig in and write, write, write I say. And I say that because I spend far too much time twittering when I should be writing and I'd hate to see you do that too. The work is what counts, everything else should be a little fun on the side.

  4. I agree with Cate: let your work speak for itself. See how many of your stories/poems show up when you Google your name!

  5. Aha. Two four and two against. Well not against, but you know what I mean.

    @Cherie. I think the new marketing strategies that the indie writers are working on are fascinating. I agree that word of mouth is so important.

    @ Christine I love blogging,too. And there's a lot of support to there for writers. Some interesting opinions too.

  6. I am afraid I am not going to sway the balance because I am on the fence about this one!

  7. I'm not sure I can honestly say that big publications don't care about the name - especially when they ask for a bio - because many of them like to flaunt the big names that they have published.

    But I will say this, whether you're a big name, small name, self-publsihed, or lucky enough to get through the grand publishing house doors, when it comes time to click the number of stars on a story by a reader, none of that matters above content. Not even if you're Stephen King.

    I also want to say that in the blogworld, I think names are shaped more by how you act professionally with other writers and editors than what you publish. Good writing is important, but professionalism can't be overlooked either.

    Okay, I'm done. : )

  8. Ann, thanks for stopping by. It's a tricky subject, eh?

    @Erin. You're right. Established names will sell because they've got a body of work behind them. If I see an anthology with the name of a writer I admire, I'm going to think -- oooh, I bet that's good.

    And everyone likes to work with people who treat others respectfully.

  9. Publication is all luck in my opinion. There's no skill in it anymore.

  10. You're a lucky man, then, Michael. With your book coming out soon. Send some my way.

  11. I have a novel coming out, and it's an indie unlike my other published books. I will be doing everything to get the word out. But not to the detriment of my writing. If I don't keep writing I won't keep the muscle primed. So, I'd say that both are quite important.

  12. I'm hoping it's not important to short stories, because I can't be bothered with any of that stuff. My silly blog is the best I can manage, all that tweeting and FB and all that is too much. I can't be bothered.

    Congrats on W1S1!!!

  13. Much like your other blog readers, I've heard arguments for and against. I easily get trapped into spending too much time on the internet getting my name out there. I recently decided I needed to focus primarily on my writing for now - but I haven't had anything published.

  14. @Catherine, congratulations on your new book. I look forward to hearing all about it.

    @Lydia, I love your blog.

    @Kari, but the internet is so much fun . . .

  15. All good points. I'm using my blog for practice and lurking behind an accidental moniker. I'm happy for the moment, but we'll see if it counts when it matters. -Kelly

  16. I do agree in some way that you need to get your name out there, but it also can be a lot of time wasting. I have heard so many different opinions on this.

    I have self published some books, and I am having a hard time promoting them, I do not want to do what annoys me, like constantly spamming twitter and facebook and g+ with my books, but I also don't want to continue being a wallflower. This year is all about experimenting with promotion and what works/what doesn't :)

  17. I guess I'm with you - although I do do a bit of blogging and that, I've always felt the story is what matters. Maybe that's naive, but it also comes down to available time. I'd rather spend mine writing than promoting.

  18. Hi, Gene Pool. If it feels good do it, that's my motto.

    @Sylvia. Let us know what your results are. And good luck.

  19. Simon. Just thinking about this some more, it occurs to me that I do market myself.

    I've got this blog, and facebook and twitter accounts (although I don't really use the last two).

    I often leave comments on blogs.

    I occasionally write craft articles. Flash Fiction Chronicles is a great venue for anyone wanting to do the same.

    I occasionally review.

    I interact with writers who are sometimes also editors on my writers' forum.

    I've just written a letter to the editor for a semi pro 'zine.

    I'm happy to give interviews or write guest blogs.

    I've even been asked to be an editor a couple of times, although I've always politely declined.

    Yikes, that all adds up to a lot of activities that could easily be considered marketing.

    I do these things because I enjoy them, but I've never really believed that they will help sales. But perhaps they do.

  20. What we write should mean a heck of a lot more than who writes it - and I think that generally is the case. Still, it's not going to put off editors abd publishers if they discover the writer is quite well known and seems to have a following.

  21. Yes. I agree, Patsy. Although I'm still reeling about how much marketing I do. Who'd have thought it?