On prose and privacy and paranoia and pens

UnknownI’m going to spend the day choosing my new name.  I’ve never written that sentence before.  Feel free to make suggestions in comments.

I take moderate steps to conceal my identity around here.  I’ve never named my school, I don’t ever use my real name, and I’ve occasionally altered comments from people who know me so that they don’t use my name.  I name my specific town and district occasionally but not often.  I am under no illusions that someone determined could wade through my posts, collect clues, and pin me down to one or two buildings– and through that, very likely uncover my actual identity– but I’ve made it so that you will have to work for it.  And that’s a sufficient level of anonymity for me.  My main thing is not to make sure that you don’t know me, it’s to make sure that my students never do a Google search on my name (they do that) and find my blog.  Note that I have another blog, registered under my actual name, called “Stop searching for your teachers, you creep.”  If you go to my real name and throw a .com at the end, that’s where you’ll land.  Yes, they do that too.

All of this presents somewhat of a problem if I want to start using my blog to sell my writing.  I would be an idiot to not use this space to market my writing– I have close to 1500 followers and traffic is continuing to increase at an impressive pace– I got nearly twice as much traffic in January as I did in December and I’m averaging around 425 page views a day right now.  That’s not much compared to lots and lots of places, but it’s a hell of a lot more than I’d have if I tried to create another real-name “author” blog and had to start over.

Which means a pen name.  Once I have something up and available for purchase somewhere I’ll put up some contact information here and start using an actual name that people can call me.  It won’t be my real name, but it’ll let me put a face on the site and make a start at an actual public presence for whoever “writer me” turns out to be.

I’m trying to come up with some guidelines for my new name.

  • Relatively unique.  There turns out to be a country musician with the exact same name as my first choice, and “formalizing” the first name makes it sound a lot like a well-known actor.  I need to not get any obvious Google results when I search for it.
  • Available domain name, which I’ll point at this site.  I suspect anything that fulfills goal #1 will also fulfill goal #2.
  • Easily spelled, pronounced, and remembered.  This goal works slightly counter to #1.
  • It should sound like a human name; I just spent three seconds considering making my new last name “Bumplehammer,” which means that perhaps I should not be trusted with this decision.
  • Shouldn’t sound porny, or like a venereal disease, or a combination of the two, which “Bumplehammer” certainly does.

Fuck it, it’s Bumplehammer.  Marvin Q. Bumplehammer.  Wait, new rule:

  • Also nothing that sounds like Dr. Seuss.

I’ll let you know when I come up with something.  It’s snowing like hell so once I get through with school stuff I’ll have hours to worry about this at OtherJob today.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

10 thoughts on “On prose and privacy and paranoia and pens

  1. If/When I jump genres I’ll have to come up with a normal name. Winter Bayne sounds like a name from my current genre. I love coming up with names and titles. I was thinking I’d use a name from a character. I won’t use it in my stories. I had considered that my last name is a B. I’m at the relative front of a book shelf (hypothetically) and my next last name should be at the other end of the book shelf. Or I could have a last name starting with “A” and be at the front.

    I stay anonymous b/c no one I know in real life knows I write. I don’t have students, just co-workers. If any of them google me which is highly doubtful, I can sell the that-ain’t-me line. Me write romance? I read Prehistoric Textiles. And I certainly don’t read erotica. Who are you kidding 🙂

    The classic format is to use Initials Like J. K. Rowling.

    Wonder if we should be researching this? 🙂


  2. I was actually thinking that you *should* choose something that would get you shelved next to an author you think your audience is reading. Just don’t go too crazy with the initials, JRR/GRR have covered that territory 🙂


  3. The other day I was doing the same research and ran across a few problems: my primary name, Katica Zasve, was already taken as someone else’s gaming handle. Dammit. I like the idea of using the word “polimathes” as a last name, but I’m not as awesome as the word implies.
    You could look to foreign languages for a name. Most last names come from foreign languages for professions or locations. What’s “writer” in Urdu? Does anyone know?


  4. How about Auctor Ignotus? It’s Latin for “author unknown” (caveat: that’s per google translate, so who knows, I didn’t take Latin). Sound dignified and feels right for your genre. And never mind, because I just googled it and no one, EVER, has used this pseudonym.


  5. I’m gonna say it right here: this name is a pseudonym. Why? I’m not really going for any new stories right now, but I felt going for a new direction. It’s good if you want to write something new and different and don’t want to stick to a genre, it gives you a chance to start anew.


  6. Bumplehammer sounds German. Or maybe Dutch. Do you want that? Cool, if you do.

    If not, you could look to language-specific names on Google. To jog the way you put sounds together. New combinations may arise.


  7. Someone has already said it, but I repeat stay near the front of the alphabet. I’d avoid something that’s going to use up your whole cover or overwhelm the title e.g. Bumplehammer –though that has a certain crazy charm. Fling your mind forward ten plus years and think whether you can still face your chosen name then. I’ve run out of unhelpful suggestions.


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