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Would I smell as sweet?

June 2, 2009

I’m back to one of the topics that I mentioned at the very beginning of my blog: the pen name.  Sometimes I wonder if the blandness of my name gets in the way of my success.  Sure, a story should sell itself.  But who is going to read my story and remember my name to look for more of my stuff?  Scott W. Baker?  It even sounds a little like George W. Bush.  Not cool.


Disney's "Special Agent Oso"

Disney's "Special Agent Oso"

Online I’m Oso.  Many of you might only know me as Oso or have to make the connection between my real name and my handle.  Would it be so bad to be Oso Baker?  I think I need to decide soon, before I start making career-launching sales (like placing in WotF or something).  


There are problems with the plan.  I do have some previously published work, but most of it is obscure and hard to find (if not impossible).  But there’s at least one other Scott Baker out there writing speculative fiction (vampire stuff, I think).  I don’t want to be mistaken for him (hence the W).  

Anyone out there use a pen name?  Abandon an old pen name?  Have an opinion about pen names? 

For more about my pen name dilemma, see my very first post.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2009 12:28 am

    I think Oso Baker works just fine, but then again so would your full name. I doubt that having a run of the mill name is going to make or break your writing career.

    That said, if I ever get published, it will kind of be under a pen name. I hate my legal given name so I’m going to use a nickname (Annie) and my married last name. I considered going with Nobu and my married last name, but it doesn’t sound that good and Izanobu one word just seems pretentious to me (though it is the name on my poetry chapbook… but poetry is supposed to be pretentious 😛 )

    I would go with whatever you want to be known as, keeping in mind that if you have any stuttering starts in regards to novel publishing, you might have to change your pen name anyway. Or if you start publishing in a different genre, etc… So do what feels right to you and what you’re comfortable with. That’s my vote.

    (ps and unrelated, thanks for the review on my OWW chapter. I’m considering scrapping the first chapter since it feels more like prologue to me anyway, sigh. I do jump heads (though in the later chapters most people get their own sections rather than jumping within scenes), it’s done more in fantasy than in sci/fi that I’ve seen, but good to know it was bothersome there. Also, the names and consonants thing, well, it’s Welsh, so nothing I can do about that. I went for the least consonant-ful names I could too usually, since there are some that are totally vowel-free from that era).

  2. June 4, 2009 11:35 am

    I’ve thought about the pen name issue a lot. My own name seems really dull, and for some reason, people can’t pronounce the last name or understand what I’m saying when I introduce myself. I read something about this in a couple of publishing advice books; I think an expert opinion is good to have for the pros and cons. Maybe I’ll look that up and revisit it here for you.

    For pen names, I’ve been partial to E. Welles or Emma Welles for a while; I entered a contest with it, but haven’t used it anywhere else.

    I think it’s better to have a name that sounds real AND memorable. Sometimes I shake my head when strolling the bookstore, like “what is that?!” Melodramatic names abound, notably in the vampire chik books, of which there are WAY too many nowadays.

    Having said that, “Oso Baker” is not bad. People might assume things about your ethnicity (kinda like I’m doing right now). But I like it. It’s gotta be better than Poppy Z. Brite or even John Ringo (which probably is his actual name).

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