Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Protecting your author brand – or, I don't write erotica, promise! by Emma Barnes

Honestly. I really don't write erotica. I'm a writer for children.

But you might be forgiven for thinking the evidence suggests otherwise...

One I did write!
Recently, I went to a Society of Authors event. Two of my author friends were with me, and we listened to a range of talks and panels on issues from self-publishing to foreign rights. At one point there was a session (as there so often is these days) on publicity and online presence: there was a lot of talk about “building your author brand” and “establishing your social media identity” and basically, making sure that you are portrayed in a clear, positive way to the world. Afterwards, rather breezily, I told my friends that it was all very well, but I couldn't help thinking that there is quite a bit about your author identity that is out of your control. Most basically, your name.

What did I mean? they asked. Well, I said, I happened to know that there is more than one other Emma Barnes - writer, out there. And yes, we could easily be confused. For one thing, one of the other Emma Barnes's books are continually cropping up on my author page on Goodreads. And because of the way Goodreads works, plus the fact that the other Emma Barnes is very prolific, there is not much I can do about it. I'd have to be constantly checking and messaging Goodreads asking them to untangle our titles.

This other Emma Barnes happens to write erotica. Which, given that I write children's books, is a bit unfortunate for me.

(By the way, I haven't actually read them. But the titles and the covers make it pretty clear.)

So, to get things completely straight:

1) I do not write erotica.

It doesn't end there however.

For there is yet another Emma Barnes, writer, and this one has actually published children's books. In her case these are self-published pony stories. I don't write pony stories, but I do write for what is probably a similar age-group. It's a bit unfortunate we share a name, as readers might well confuse us (especially as, according to her Amazon bio, we actually live in the same part of the UK).

So to make things even clearer:

This one's mine too!
2) I do not write pony books

And while I'm thinking it over, I realise there is yet another possible source of confusion. Not a writer this time, but a publisher - the Managing Director of Snowbooks is called Emma Barnes. And we have definitely been confused – I have been congratulated more than once on speeches or events that actually relate to the other Emma Barnes. 

So finally:

3) I am not a publisher

How do I feel about all this? Well, as Shakespeare said... "What's in a name...” Let's hope he knew what he was talking about. It's not ideal that readers may confuse my books with these other titles which have nothing to do with me.  But let's trust readers to see beyond a name.  At the end of the day, I don't think it's really worth worrying. In this new era of self-publishing and e-books, I suspect this sort of thing happens all the time. As writers we may as well just relax, because, at the end of the day, there's nothing we can do about it.

Anyone else checked to see if they have any unlikely doubles out there?

Find out more about Emma Barnes and her books at her web-site.
Emma is on twitter at @EmmaBarnesWrite
Emma's latest book is Chloe's Secret Princess Club.


Penny Dolan said...

Good points, Emma, and might start looking out for my name too.

Can't help feeling that, when invitations to speak at events or do author visits, authors should always check quite WHO is actually being invited as the intended author might not really be you. Although that's leading to some interesting imaginings here.

Susan Price said...

Write the story, Penny! - If you google 'Susan Price' you can find several, lawyers and doctors among them. Several seem to have written scholarly books but I'm fortunate in that none of them seem to be writers of children's books or erotica.

Ann Turnbull said...

A couple of times I have been invited to be a keynote speaker at a conference at a university in America. There is an American professor out there with the same name as me who is well known for her work on families and disability. Apparently people think she also writes children's books in her spare time. Good Reads certainly think we are one and the same.

Daniel Blythe said...

I was once confused with the agent Blythe Daniel! Her name is mine flipped, but she is female, American and, by all accounts, a somewhat zealous Christian - all of which I am not.