Blogger: Rachel Kent
Location: Books & Such main office; Santa Rosa, Calif.
I bet most of you have heard about the Qwikster twitter news as well:
Perhaps it has has been updated by now, I haven’t researched it yet this week, but here’s the situation in brief:
When Netflix launched the Qwikster brand, they didn’t get a registered trademark for the name “Qwikster.” A man on Twitter has the tweet name “Qwikster” already and tweets about profane things with his icon set as a pot-smoking Elmo picture. Twitter doesn’t allow for usernames to be purchased from their users, and the man isn’t willing to give up his tweet ID.
How does this story relate to you as writers? My advice to you is to be careful to research all aspects of your name when you are deciding which name to be published under. There could be other writers out there writing under your same name. This doesn’t mean that you have to use a different name, but you should weigh the pros and cons of choosing the same name.
For example, one of my clients has a name that another author has already produced two self-published romances under. My author decided to go ahead with using her name (after consulting with her agent) because the self-pubbed author was someone who wouldn’t likely cause readers to become confused. My author didn’t look much like the other writer either, so if someone was misled for a little while, they’d realize easily two different people have the same name. My author was able to grab the web domain with her name and tweets with that name as well. She did the right thing though. She looked into who was using her name and decided that she was able to go ahead with it after securing the social media pages under that name brand.
Another author I know was unable to get the website with her writer name. She was already quite well established, but when you typed her writer name into the web browser, you’d come to a site with pornographic pictures. She had tried to purchase her domain name, but the people who had it were holding onto it unless she paid them a ridiculous sum of money. She was able to write them a cease and desist letter for attaching her brand to pornography, and they did change the site, but she still has been unable to secure it even after consulting with a brand lawyer.
Do your research ahead of time, so that you aren’t faced with these awful online problems like Qwikster and these writers. Search out your brand name online and secure it before your name is ever printed on a book cover.
What comes up first when you google your name? Is it you? What have you done to research and secure your name?
If you are already published, start doing what you can do secure your brand name as well. Hopefully this won’t involve lawyers, but at times you really do need to do your best to secure your name so your readers can easily find you–without surprises along the way.
Nicole M. Miller
This is such an interesting discussion – and what a disaster on Netflix’s part.
For me, I began my writing career as a freelance journalist under my maiden name, Nicole Lanphear.
Spelling out Lanphear was annoying, so I was happy to marry into the “Miller” family. (Though I do still have people who ask me how to spell Miller.)
This presented with a slight problem though. Nicole Miller is a fashion designer. Luckily, one I adore. It is fun carrying around a Nicole Miller purse with my name on it. 🙂
However, I cannot get “nicolemiller.com.” The designer will always have that. I went with Nicolemillerbooks.com. I also try to always go by Nicole M Miller to differentiate a bit more. I’m yet unpublished, so that is also the name I will publish under.
I love the look and sound of Nicole M Miller, so I’m building that brand as I can. Though I’ll never cease to get the question, “Oh, Nicole Miller? Are you that designer…?” For the record, I’m not the designer. But I am a big fan of hers. 🙂
Great points, Rachel! Thankfully no one else with my name had secured the domain or Twitter handle when I started writing, so I snatched them up as soon as possible. It’s scary to read stories like the one you shared. You’ve given some great tips to hopefully keep others from that type of situation.
(By the way, it was great to meet you over the weekend, and I love your new photo!) 🙂
Good point, Rachel. I have a url reserved and my twitter account is under my pen name. I’ve searched Amazon and B&N to make sure there are no other author’s with my name, but had never searched the web. After reading your post, I ran a quick search and found another ‘Lorie Langdon’–even her first name is spelled the same! She is a med student at Stanford U, so I wouldn’t think there would be any issues with me publishing under that name. Shew! Thanks for the head’s up!
Thanks, Sarah! Nice to meet you too.
Nicole, sounds like you are doing everything right! As a former Zurakowski, I completely understand having to spell my name for EVERYONE. 🙂 Happy to be a Kent now.
When I first went looking for my domain name, I discovered http://www.sarahtipton.com belonged to a dentist named Walter S. Tipton. I can’t figure out what “sarah” means in the url. So I chose an alternative domain name. There is also an Arkansas meteorologist named Sarah Tipton. She’s been out there longer, so googling the name brings up her first, but my website is on the first search page.
At least none of those are embarrassing associations 🙂
Wow what a great post! This is so true. I know it has been said to always buy all aspects of your name (.com, .org, etc) when buying your domain name because of a good chance this can happen.
Great reminder. Thank you. I have been brainstorming for a pen name so this is was very much needed:)
I’ve toyed with using either my maiden name or my married name. Thankfully, neither match another authors name, or anyone other than Dr.’s on google. 🙂
Good advice though. Definitely something to think about as my writing career progresses.
A Google search for “David A Todd” has me as seven of the hits on the first page, most of them concerning my writing, and at least one from our corporate press releases. But one is for a David A Todd who edited a book about Texas. A few more pages brings up an assortment of David A Todds, including at least one other civil engineer, a lawyer, a construction company owner, a real estate agent, and someone incarcerated in Pennsylvania. At least no porn sites.
When it came time to put up a writer’s web page, I was able to secure davidatodd.com, and a FB author’s page with that name. I don’t do twitter as of yet, so don’t know availability of what name I might use.
Now I just need a publishing contract.
Great post, Rachel. The one advantage of having an unusual name is that I rarely run into that issue. I did, however, run into it with one of my blogs. I started a free blog with the same URL that was a person’s domain name. She wasn’t too happy about it, and even though I explained it was unintentional, WordPress still suspended my blog.
I’ll definitely be more careful in the future.
Turns out there is another writer with my name, but he writes childrens books.
What a weird feeling! 🙂
There are a couple other Joanne Shers – all but one of the links that come up on the first page when you google my name are me. The other is a Jewish geneologist in Duluth, MN – lots of credentials. Interestingly, we have the same middle initial. She goes by Joanne M. Sher – which is why I am NOT using my middle initial as my author name when I get published. And I have my domain and twitter – though somebody else has the FB profile “JoanneSher” (my fan page has my name, though). I did look into this a couple years ago.
Great post, Rachel!
Janet Ann Collins
I have to include my middle name because there’s another writer named Janet Collins.