Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Reasons Why It Sucks to Write Under Three Names

As an author who chose to use all three names to publish under, I will now share with you the issues I've run into while doing so.

I decided to be "Julie Sondra Decker" rather than "Julie Decker" in the book world for several reasons:
  • My middle name is sorta unusual and I like that it makes my name more memorable.
  • Using all three names makes it less likely that my work will be assumed to have been written by another Julie Decker.
  • Using all three names makes it less likely that another author's work will be assumed to have been written by me.
But having made that choice, I have come across several disadvantages. Specifically:
  1. Sometimes people think it is pretentious. I've seen this opinion all over the place--and once I was on an author panel with two guys who were loudly discussing in front of me how pointless and silly it is to use three names (and had somehow failed to notice they were in the presence of someone who resembled that remark). When I butted in and informed them that I am a three-name author, they wanted to know why, and concluded that it's okay as long as you're just trying to differentiate yourself from an existing author with your first and last name. But apparently it's not "okay" if it's just your choice--you have to justify it and it's clear some people feel this is an unpopular and distasteful choice.
  2. People often think it's hyphenated. I have been credited as Julie Sondra-Decker before, which annoys me and occasionally leads people to think I am married. People have also assumed my first name is Julie-Sondra.

  3. People somehow get distracted when there are two given names and think the second one is what they should call me. The last few times I've been interviewed, it never fails: Someone wants to talk about the article and e-mails me with a letter addressed to "Sondra." Sometimes I correct them and then they continue to call me Sondra. What. (It's getting almost as common as people thinking my name is Julia, but that's a completely different story. No, "Julie" is not short for "Julia" in my case.)
  4. People alphabetize you wrong. I've been put in lists in the wrong place--I belong under D, guys, not S--but this is a much bigger deal if clueless booksellers ignore their shelving labels and process your name as a hyphenated name or somesuch, which leads to your book being shelved where it does not belong and leads to consumers being unable to find it. (Goes both ways: Employee shelves it wrong but bookseller/consumer looks in the right place and can't find it; Employee shelves it correctly but bookseller/consumer looks in the wrong place and can't find it.)
  5. Sometimes there isn't a space for a middle name on a form you're filling out. I've come across many forms where I'm supposed to enter my name to submit a story, enter a profile, etc., and they only have first and last name. I want my whole name to be there, especially if it's writing-related. I usually end up putting "Julie Sondra" in the first name field, which exacerbates the issues associated with people thinking that is actually a first name, and sometimes the space gets deleted and I'm assumed to be "JulieSondra." I find myself wondering how people named Mary Beth or Lee Ann deal with having their space deleted--it must be obnoxious. (Of course, considering I use "JulieSondra" as a handle on YouTube and Twitter and several forums, I may be making it worse all by myself.)
Ultimately it's probably not worth whining this much about; people who want my book aren't going to shrug and say "oh well!" and give up on buying it if one bookstore can't find it on a shelf or if my name isn't in the list at the right spot. However, because I'm an annoying pedant and wish to destroy all typos, seeing them in my name is especially galling.

Anyone else have opinions on three-name authors or want to share experiences you've had writing as one?

1 comment:

  1., pretentious? For wanting to use your name in full? Wut. People get mildly offended at the weirdest things....

    I dunno, I really like how your name sounds when you include your middle name o-e When I mention your blog or books (mostly the Invisible Orientation one) to other people, I say your name in full. It actually kind of sounds off if I omit "Sondra ". Plus, it's not super long or complicated.

    I don't think I'd get to be a three-name author >_> My first and last name are kind of long, as is my middle name. Put all three together and it'd be overkill. (Not counting the True Hispanic Way, which would mean including my mom's maiden name *or* possibly adding in all four last names--the two paternal and two maternal ones >_>)