Dear Homonymous Fellow Authors... from your namesake, Katherine Roberts


Katherine Roberts (author of this blog)

How often do you Google yourself to check how famous you are?

If you have a unique name, no problem. You'll most likely appear on the first page of search results, even if you've only ever written a specialist non-fiction paper on the relative distance of Jupiter's moons from Earth when the planets are aligned once every 30 million years... hooray, instant fame! And easier to find means easier to sell, something you might want to consider when inventing your best-selling pseudonym in our digital age.

Having a common name like mine, on the other hand, can be both a blessing and a curse. If your name is a variation of a more famous author's, you might get lucky... a Jane Rowlings title, for example, will probably be shelved beside the latest Harry Potter in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. With an online search, however, it will likely be buried beneath a hundred or so pages of JK Rowling's more popular results, and I suspect your publisher would strongly suggest the use of a pseudonym in this case. Also, you'll probably never get hold of the .com for your author website, so choose your 'similar name as a famous author' pseudonym with care!

No doubt because my debut Song Quest was published so long ago (in internet terms) and I grabbed katherineroberts.com early on, Googling myself usually brings up my own books on page one, mixed with photographs of "the most beautiful woman in golf" - an American Katherine Roberts, who writes books about yoga for golfers. Since this golfer KR looks younger, fitter and more beautiful than me, I am not too upset about the photo mix-up, though I imagine she might not be quite so flattered when my author mug-shot pops up in her search. I once had to reassure a young fan that I had not given up writing my fantasy books to write golf books instead, but there isn't usually too much confusion, since I don't write about yoga or golf, and as far as I know the golfer KR has not published fantasy or historical fiction for young readers. Here she is with one of her books.

Katherine Roberts, "most beautiful woman in golf".

Yoga for Golfers by Katherine Roberts


I didn't find anyone else currently publishing under exactly the same spelling of my name, but Google knows best and often suggests alternatives if it thinks you've made a typo in your search. There are several variations of my name I've considered using myself, such as Katie Roberts (younger fiction, maybe?) or Kathy Roberts (romance?), so I occasionally check these out. Weirdly, though, the first variation Google came up with for me was Katee Robert - New York Times bestselling author of dark fantasy and romance.

Katee Robert

Being a fan of dark fantasy myself, I was immediately drawn to her website and impressive list of bestsellers, some of which are now on my to-be-read list!

'Sacrifice' by Katee Robert

Next, I found Kate Roberts (1891-1985), a well-known Welsh language novelist and the only dead author in my search. Interesting to note that I am a quarter Welsh myself... did some of her Welsh spirit sneak into my own fiction, maybe? If you are interested in her life, there is now a Kate Roberts Heritage Centre in Rhosgadfan.

Kate Roberts Heritage Centre

One Bright Morning by Kate Roberts


After Kate, Google suggested Kathryn Roberts, a Californian who writes cowboy romances and lives my dream life on a ranch in California... a real life wild west cowgirl! Yet more books on my to-be-read list.

Kathryn Roberts


Kathryn Roberts' website


And finally (sticking with the 'K' spelling, because 'C' takes us down a whole different rabbit hole) there's Kathy Roberts, a lawyer who has written fantasy for older readers as well as children's books for a younger age group.

Adventures with Freddy by Kathy Roberts


I've very much enjoyed meeting some of my homonymous fellow authors here. If you've got a similar name to mine and I've missed you out, my apologies and please feel free to say hello in the comments :-)

*

The author of this blog writes fantasy and historical fiction for readers age 9 to adult. Her debut novel Song Quest won the UK's inaugural Branford Boase Award in 2000. She does not play golf or speak Welsh, but she has been known to write dark fantasy for older readers. An early vampire story 'Rubies' appears in her short fiction collection Mythic and Magical (part of the Ampersand Tales series), available as ebook or paperback.

Mythic and Magical
(Short story collection by Katherine Roberts)

See more at katherineroberts.com

Comments

Susan Price said…
Occasionally googling my name has been quite humbling -- there are so many Susan Prices, in America, Canada, Australia, working in medicine, business and education, publishing papers. I like to think that, when they google, they say, "Oh look, there's an English one who's published books!"
Peter Leyland said…
Thanks for an amusing piece Katherine. I often get asked if I'm the author something like Fishing Fleets in Iceland, and even though I've told them umpteen times it's not me, they still keep on. I know with the name on your writing, it will likely be to do with historical fiction, horses or unicorns, so your brand is safe here...
Yes, there are hundreds of other Katherine Roberts out there doing wonderful things other than writing... I just looked for those who have published books under their name, otherwise this post would have been book-length and I'd probably still be Googling now.

Good to know I have a unicorn brand, Peter :-)
Umberto Tosi said…
Thanks for introducing us to your namesakes. I still like the original writer and horse whisperer best! I used to be confused with an Italian pop singer named "Umberto Tozzi" but like myself, he is long of tooth now and all but an echo.
I like that, Umberto... maybe we are simply echoes of ourselves? In a parallel universe, we might exist as a different version of our name.

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