If you’ve never googled your own name, you really ought to try it. It can be a very enlightening experience. Unless you have a very unique name, you’ll probably find at least one other person sharing it with you.
I’ve been aware of several people who share the same name as me, but until I began laying the groundwork for the online portion of my author platform I never realized how much of a problem this could be. Finding a unique domain name and keywords to help people locate you can be difficult when there are too many other people competing for it, so much so that I may need to come up with a pseudonym if my work is published.
By way of explanation, here are a few of the other Chris Owens’ in the world:
When I was in high school, a good friend of mine went to New Orleans for vacation one summer. While there, he discovered the world famous (at least that’s what the sign in the window said) Chris Owens Nightclub in New Orleans. Also known as the First Lady of the French Quarter or the Queen of Bourbon Street, this Chris Owens has been holding an annual Easter parade through the French Quarter for the past thirty years.
Fans of the 1990’s hit show The X-Files will recall Agent Jeffrey Spender, the son of the Cigarette Smoking Man. Spender was played by Canadian actor Chris Owens. A quick check at IMDB reveals a long list of acting credits.
NFL fans may also have heard of the cornerback Chris Owens. Recently signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, this Chris Owens has also played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns. Since he’s playing for my team now, I might have an excuse to buy his jersey.
I also found a few other Chris Owens’ who were doctors, lawyers, political campaign managers, city councilmen, pastors and photographers. Thank goodness I didn’t find any serial killers.
Finally, as if that isn’t enough, I went one step further and googled ‘Chris Owens author’ and found even more competition. Through the magic of keywords, Canadian author Chris Owen comes up. I don’t blame him, I’ve read multiple books that suggested using frequent misspellings of your name as keywords. In fact, I was planning to use Chris Owen as a keyword myself – there was a girl in college the same time as me named Chris(tine) Owen and it wasn’t unusual for me to get calls from guys looking for her, so I already know that I have a last name that tends to get misspelled a lot.
If it were only the issue of a name on a book cover, I could get by using my own name. However, the real issue to me is the online clutter from there being so many Chris Owens’ in the public eye. If readers or media want to find out more about me online, I want them to be able to do so with a minimum of confusion. If I succeed in finding agent representation, their opinion about this will be one of the first questions I ask. If any of you have any experience with this or a firm opinion one way or another, please feel free to comment.