Titles and Authors - It's all in a name?

I've just sent my completed manuscript off to a professional editor. natually I'm anxius about his feedback, as a first time author, that that's not giving me as many wobbles as the thorny question of title and author. I can't move forward until I get this settled.

I've had the title of my memoir firmly in my mind from 2008, well before I started writing. It seems appropriate. Trouble is, in the meantime there are lots of entries for this name on Google and a few books via Amazon. Most of my preferred alternatives are also taken. Should I change my title?

I've also got a problem with my name.

1. It's the same as an illustrious BBC reporter and she fills pages of Google, and she's written books. 2. If one day I change my current name (via naturalisation if I'm lucky) I'm going to see my old married name on the book forever. Shheeesssh. Do I change my name to one I might have in the future?

Would really appreciate your advice


Choose a name you would like to known by, perhaps completely made up.
When you write a message on site, any site, make sure that your spelling and punctuation is correct if you want create a good impression as an author.
We all do it. I’ve just looked at an FB message I posted, a couple of hours ago, and I’d made two typos, which I quickly corrected.

Ok, thanks for all the interesting suggestions. Spent a sleepless weekend over this.

After much soul-searching I will become Frances Lawson. The surname being my Father's mother's name. It's not wacky but it's safe and not taken. My book will become Follow My Heart: Risking all for love of France. Feedback welcome. Does this scan OK?

Just watching Breakfast TV on BBC and seen Tom Rob Smith being interviewed about his new book. Shows how someone with what I expect is a very common name, Thomas Smith, find a way of using his own name as an author.

Véro got me going on this one too. How about Anna Gramm?

The number of actors and writers who have had to change their names is staggering. Prior to being Carol Norwell I was Carol Day....and apart from being a comic strip in a Newspaper in the 50s (Daily Mail Im afraid!) there were a lot of us about. Lucky for me Norwell is so unusual, an estate agent trying to track down the owner of our house in France....went to the Mayor...found out our names and tracked me to facebook on my name alone! So I concur with Brian....Ross Arran-Finche...is a foxy name....not to be forgotten and very individual...failing that, maybe look at this 'family tree' for your name, Frances...there are a lot of names with the same stem, maybe you could go with a Francine....or a Jancis.... http://www.behindthename.com/name/francis/tree - whatever you choose...good luck.

My name shows 25 professionals including yours truly on LinkedIn alone. Then there is a former American football star and a couple of other sportsmen. So it is difficult to begin with if you think your name is wrong. Your alternative might be just as common. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time looking for other people's publications and have learned years ago that it is hard to narrow it down sometimes because people will be spread across disciplines. Thus it taught me to look for an author with at least part of the title which 95% of the time works. Authors and titles pair, neither alone ensures a hit first time. I know I am doing bibliographic searches, but the principle remains the same.

Other than that, I think Véro's anagram of your name, Ross Arran-Finche, could well be unique enough to be on to a winner. Match that with a good title, up, up and away!

Brill, lovely bit of Anglo-Scots aristocracy built in to it.

Go with whatever name you like, especially if someone else is using the same name. There's an artist with my name but I don't think there's an author per se.

Titles are a special circle of torment. Maybe you could use a phrase from your book?

oooh, I would go with this one....hyphenated, always the way to go!

Those are so funny!!!

Don't worry. Your answer reminded me of something I read in a Joe Eszterhas book (Hollywood Animal). He didn't have a title for one of his films and it eventually came from someone reading the script - for typos, maybe. She spotted: "Jagged Edge". Part of a throwaway line in a courtroom scene, I think.

So you shouldn't worry too much. The title's already there. You just haven't seen it yet.

Ooh I love this one!

Serafina Schnorr and Rosanna F Schirer are another 2 anagrams...

Ross Arran-Finche is an anagram of Frances Harrison and would look cool on a novel...

Sorry Alex...just saw your reply which I have repeated!!!! another possibility is to use a diminutive of your name? Frankie? Fran? Cissy?

You can use your initials (first and middle name)...or just a middle initial. The title though....more difficult. Is there one occurrence in the book that just lends itself to providing the title? I would agree with Carolyn that something quirky is the way to go.

Thanks for the replies so far and hope to get more. So far my editor has ignored all requests for advice on the title -it's early days yet though as he hasn't started the edit yet. There's no way I'm going to use my maiden name - I was so pleased to be rid of it and it doesn't reflect any genealogy (my father was adopted).

I'm thinking of doing what my mother did late in life. She changed her surname to Libeau to reflect her French ancestry and not her late and unlamented husband and if I ever get lucky enough to stay long enough in France to become naturalised I would change my name to Frances Libeau. But, does this name work for you anglophones?

No, my author name doesn't have to be my real name - food for thought. Your opinions are REALLY useful to me.

A definite (or indefinate) article isn't enough to make your title stand out - search engines are programmed to ignore common words and focus on the key words so your book would be fighting for space at the top of the list with all the other books that have a similar title. Just do an experiment on Amazon and see.

And I'm not sure that intitals would be enough to differentiate you from the "other" Frances Harrison - think of Joanne M Rowling? Jane P Gardem? Kate B Atkinson?

I was lucky in that my married surname is quite unusual, there are still only about three other Victoria Corby's on Google, my maiden name is much more common and produces hundreds of different hits. It's really worth looking for that unusual name, Sophie Kinsella is a combination of her second name and mother's maiden name and the name hasn't done her badly has it?

Or using your initials (if you have a middle name). I had an issue with someone using my name a couple of years ago. I wrote to their agent and said I'd quite like to use it myself, especially as I've written some things exploring the same subject matter. The writer then wrote to me and said it was a pseudonym they'd come up with, with their agent. (An agent I've written to before.) In the end, she told me she was going to stop using the name. But a couple of books are already out there - and aren't superbly reviewed.

As to the title, you could add a definite article. Or drop it, if it's already there. I'm sure your editor will have some thoughts and, if you've gone down that avenue already, it would be worth benefiting from their experience...