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  • Writer's picturePortland Jones

To take a pen name - or not?

I am who I am. I have had a couple of minor things published under my own name – a poem in a magazine, a short story in an anthology. I write regularly for Witch magazine, and I write a weekly blog for the Pagan Federation, both under my own name.

However, when it came to publishing my novel, I realised that there is another author out there who has the same name and has published a novel. This made me give some considerable thought to whether I should use a pen name or stick with my given name.

If a reader is looking for a book by a writer that shares a name with many other people, the reader will be happy to look further to find the author they are actually looking for. I do it myself – I look up the name of the book or if I’m not sure of the name I will read the sample or reviews on Amazon to check this what I am looking for.

When your name is unusual, things can go one of two ways. It can be an advantage because people recognise your name and associate it with you. On the other hand, if they haven’t heard of any other people with your name, they can associate it with you when it isn’t you, or they can see another Portland and take what they do as if it’s you, if you see what I mean.

I spoke to writer friends and asked their thoughts. Should I take a pen name? They all said not to, but to continue with my own name. I agreed with them so my book is proudly by Portland Jones. Yet it has given rise to things that make me chuckle.

We are both on Goodreads, or rather, I am very recently on Goodreads. The anthology in which I appeared was accredited to the other Portland Jones. I couldn’t edit my page as it thought I was the other one. After puzzling over this for a while, I contacted Goodreads who responded within hours, having resolved the problem, sort of. Brilliant service.

When I set up my website, I studied SEO. That’s Search Engine Optimisation just in case you hadn’t heard of it. You probably have but I hadn’t a clue till a couple of months ago. I set out to make my website more visible to Google searches. I am pleased to announce that if you Google my name, I am on the first page of search results, in fourth and sixth place, for today at least. And who has most of the other slots? Yes, the other Portland Jones. If you add pagan into the search, I take six spaces. Occasionally a night club in Portland Oregon shows up. With that level of visibility, I’ll take that as a win.

Just need to give more people reason to Google me now...

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