What’s in A Name?

A nurse at my doctor’s office asked my occupation.

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“Oh,” she said, brightening. “Have you written anything I’ve heard of?”

We want readers to recognize our names so they can look for our writing in magazines, bookstores, and online.

Make a name for yourself
Early in my career, while helping with a writers conference, I stood at the dining hall door with a little clicker, counting conferees and faculty as they entered.

An editor I had written for but never met saw my nametag: Joyce Ellis. “Are you Joyce K. Ellis?” Still clicking people in, I seized the opportunity to get better acquainted.

It’s important to become known for who you are, but also to be consistent with how you present yourself. Since then I’ve used my middle initial on everything.

You want people you know—even slightly—to be able to say, “I know her, so I want to read her article or book.” Build a community of readers by using your name.

Once you establish a name for yourself, maybe someday the nurse in your doctor’s office will say, “Oh, you’re the one who wrote…”

Joyce K. Ellis, an award-winning author, has published more than a dozen books, including three novels, and hundreds of articles and short stories. In addition to serving as a Christian Writers Guild mentor and assistant director of the Write-to-Publish Conference, she loves encouraging women at retreats across the country.

Pen image: nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. Rachel Laird says

    Joyce, so writing under a pen name isn’t advisable? I would use my initials and last name “R.D. Laird” to write inspirational suspense, and then a pen name like F Maurice to write sci-fi.

    • says

      Rachel, stayed tuned. My next blog post will address instances when a pen name is advisable. And using your first two initials and your last name can work–especially if you want to conceal your gender (e.g., a man writing romance novels). But if there’s no reason not to use your first name, I would use it so that potential readers can more readily identify you. Become known for who you are! :)

      • Kimberly Puryear says

        Thank you. I have been wondering how to present myself in my writings. I want to conceal my gender simply because of the subject matter that I write about. I write on church government and history, typically a male subject. Now many women voice on this subject. So thank you. You helped me in this area. Bless you.

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