Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What is in a name?

Good question Shakespeare.  As writers we often struggle over choosing the right name for our characters, but how much thought have we put into our own names? Writer Catherine Nichols explores this issue in her own article  In this article, she writes about her experiment to see if male writers were more successful in landing a book deal than female writers.  The results were shocking - a person's name is important. 

So if the publishing world is truly a business, then why this favoritism toward male writers?  Why exclude females?  And does this mean publishers only want adult males?  Surely, that can't be right.  Recently, I've seen  a growing number of teen writers such as Jake Marcionette and Maya Van Wagenen get publishing deals.  Looks like teen writers can be marketable and even profitable.

To test whether or not teens could get a publishing offer, I conducted my own experiment and even entered the results in the Google Science Fair this summer.  For my experiment, I wrote a query letter and my mom wrote a query letter (both for the same manuscript). We then sent the queries out to agents.  The results were fairly similar for us both.  My mom received only one more request than me.  Thus, our results indicated that age wasn't a deterring factor in the publishing world.  That's good news for young writers.  The publishing world may be a business, but if you write a good, sellable book, then agents will consider your book regardless of your age.  So even though I didn't win the science fair, I did learn something about the publishing industry.  Write a good book and regardless of your age and gender, you might get noticed.

  So two experiments, both with different results. Once again I must wonder what is in a name? And how important is your name when selling a book?  I would say very.  Celebs after all get publishing deals all the time based on their names.  So where does that leave the rest of us?  Um . . . write a good book, network, and hope to get lucky?  But still, is our writing alone good enough or do we need a mask? Since publishing is a business, I would say that it is best to keep it real and be yourself (even if you have to use just initials).  Best of luck and I hope to see your name in print one day soon.           

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