449. Go Google Yourself

Cover by artist E. Rachael Hardcastle

This is mostly for and about writers; but then, most of you are or want to be writers.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who Google themselves and those who don’t.
There are two kinds of people who Google themselves: those who admit it and those who don’t.
Me, I just do it for business reasons. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

All this came up because of a young author I occasionally converse with through post replies. J. M. Williams just published his first book The Adventures of Iric (a flash fiction collection). On the cover, his name appeared as JM Williams and he asked his followers about which worked better — J. M. or JM.

Actually, he has bigger problems than that. J. M. Williams, written either way, is not sufficiently unique in our internet world. When I went to Amazon to buy his book, he was nowhere to be found. Instead, the J. M. Williams who wrote A Legacy of Magi: A Mystic’s Path popped up. Different book, different author.

This is the second time I have had this problem. I met Thomas Watson, author of the War of the Second Iteration series at Westercon, picked up his book Chance Encounters, and found him a pleasant person to talk to. When I wanted to see what a short story sold separately as an e-publication looked like, I went to Amazon and bought one by Thomas Watson. Bad idea; it was a mess, full of blood, guts, and bad writing, because it was by a different Thomas Watson.

If J. M. Williams and Thomas Watson have this problem, what would it be like for John Smith?

If these seem like shameless plugs, so be it. I liked Chance Encounters. I have just begun Adventures of Iric and am enjoying it already.

Personally, I have the childhood misfortune of being Sydney Franklin Logsdon. The first name is from my father, who was named after a great aunt. The middle name is from my grandfather. Logsdon is unspellable and unpronouncable. That triple consonant — gsd — does not roll off the tongue. Even shortened to Syd, my name is a little girlie, which was a big deal growing up in an Oklahoma cow town. In high school I went by Log, except for a few of the smart alecks in math class who called me Logarithm.

An odd name turned out to be a godsend on the internet. The first time I googled my name, it was mostly me, not a thousand strangers using my name. When I bought the URL for my website (sydlogsdon.com), no one else had snatched it up.

J. M. Williams’ announcement of his first novel reminded me that I hadn’t googled myself recently, so I did it again.

I found a few posts by or about Sydney Logsdon, a young girl who is heavily into sports and into posting pictures of herself. The last time I did a self-google, about a year ago, she was all over the internet, but not so much this time. Perhaps she moved on, or maybe she got married and is still out there under her new name.

I found one obituary of my father — different middle name — with misspellings and no mention of children. The internet has a lot of accuracy problems.

I found a Myspace music mix by Sydney Logsdon aka dumbgirl98. She is probably a namesake I don’t want to meet.

I found quite a few references to my newest novel Cyan. I found a ton of advertisements from used bookstores selling Jandrax or A Fond Farewell to Dying. One of them was in French. I even saw one in German, touting Todesgesänge, the translation of FFTD. It had a review I couldn’t read.

I found a review I hadn’t seen before for FFTD. In English, this time. That also gave me a new old-SF review site to follow.

I found somebody with my name telling how to make slime.

I found a number of sites selling illegal copies of my novels as ebooks. You won’t be surprised to see that I am not including a link to any of them.

What I didn’t see, was a hundred other people using my name. I dodged that bullet.

If you are a writer, or want to be, and your name is Avant B. Jones, don’t use A. B. Jones as the name on your novel. If your name is Bill Smith, you might consider a pseudonym. It’s a matter of branding, and it gives you something to think about while you are waiting for your first book to hit the internet.


10 thoughts on “449. Go Google Yourself

  1. J.M. Williams

    Great discussion here. I learned about my poor choice of pseudonym too late, it seems. I am already in to deep to choose another. It seems every other author is A.B Something. And there are a whole lot of J.M.’s. I think eventually I will have no choice but to change to JM without periods, just to stand out. That’s what I did on Amazon. If you want to search me, do it without the periods. But I’ve already got a lot published, and a lot of art, with periods in. I definitely wish I had done a lot more looking before choosing a name.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thomas Anderson

    I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my name is as common as dirt. If I ever write anything worth publishing, I’ll definitely need a pseudonym to stand out. Fortunately my middle name is reasonably distinctive, and Loyd Anderson has a good ring to it. But that’s getting ahead of myself by a few dozen major steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sydlogsdon Post author

      Hmmm. Loyd Anderson without the double l. Sounds vaguely Scandinavian. “Ragnarok Revisited” by Loyd Anderson. It works. On the other hand, let me warn you — every book you write means fifty books you won’t have time to read.
      Also, it’s none of my business, but where the heck did Almighty Tim come from?


      1. Thomas Anderson

        Tim was my nickname all through college. It started with a Monty Python reference and sort of snowballed from there. The Almighty part is even less interesting. I needed an email address, it just popped into my head, and the version of me from 2003 thought it was funny.

        If the ratio of books written to read is 1:50, I might just have to write short stories.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Tooty Nolan

    I use three pen names. I reserve my real name for my best work – Paul Trevor Nolan. I use the name Tooty Nolan for the comedy. And my son’s invention – Clive Thunderbolt – for whatever is left. Seems to work. I also have my books sold illegally (or given away) in PDF form. Who are these bastards?


  4. MistressoftheInk

    Love the humor in this post! My real name isn’t too common, and I imagine using it if I ever get to publish a book in the future. Still, I use a pseudonym in my blog in large part because I don’t want it coming up on those Google search results! haha

    Liked by 1 person

      1. MistressoftheInk

        I get that. I’ve read writers sharing that the reason they started their blog was to establish a social media presence for their books — which in this day and age is indeed becoming a big part of reaching your target audience!

        Liked by 1 person

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