Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Poll: Selecting My Author Name

To my aggravation, I’ve discovered there’s another author called Sarah Potter. Okay, she’s not a fantasy author like me but has written a non-fiction book titled, How You Can Trade Like a Pro: Breaking into Options, Futures, Stocks and ETFs. 

This in itself might not seem like a huge problem, but she has an Amazon author page and she is top of the search engine if you type the name Sarah Potter into it. Darned common name. There are about 600 of us on Facebook, and I knew it would become an issue for me at some point.

The other problem is that everyone knows me as Sarah Potter on my blog, plus my domain name has the same name. Yesterday, as an experiment, I tried changing my blog name to Sarah C. Potter Writes and it looked rather silly there as the header, quite apart from the fact that it didn’t fit into one line. In case you missed it, here it is.

Sarah C. Potter

In the past, I’ve considered using my initials and surname for writing so people didn’t know which gender I was. It’s rumoured that some males won’t read books by females, whereas the majority of females will happily read books by males. This is especially so with middle-grade children: an age when boys often think girls are silly, weedy, and yucky. I’ve read somewhere that J.K. Rowling chose to use her initials so boys would not be put off reading her Harry Potter novels.

As you can appreciate, I have to make a final decision about my author name before the illustrator makes a start on my book cover, so I’d like to ask your opinions about which name you prefer and is  the most marketable.




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27 thoughts on “Poll: Selecting My Author Name

  1. I love Sarah Potter so voted for #2- yes very aggravating!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I chose to self-publish using initials, J S Malpas, for anonymity’s sake. But I also think genre might inform your choice. Writing historical fiction and fantasy, I felt that initials created a sense of me, the author, being an authority on the subject matter.
    For romance, crime, etc. I feel like there’s more of a human, personal relationship between author and reader. So a full name is better for those genres. At the end of the day, which feels right on the cover?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your feedback on this. There’s something to be said for anonymity as it frees you up to write exactly what you like — up to a point, of course. Interesting about coming over as an authority on the matter, although whether this is necessary in my brand of urban fantasy or speculative fiction, both of which are very concerned with personal relationships and group psychology, I can’t decide. It’s certainly worth some further thought.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah, yeah, modern and older fantasy has a good genre-precedence of initials, not just Rowling but N.K. Jeimisin come to mind, but C.S. Lewis and of course J.R.R. Tolkien. James Tiptree, Jr. of course in sci-fi wrote under a male name (as George Eliot long ago). So, I’m beginning to be a little swayed toward S.C. Potter. What about, as an alternative, a ‘fake’ but unusual first name that you can live with and a more common last name like Potter? Sagacious Potter, Serenity Potter, but doesn’t have a be an S-name (Firefly lovers would probably like Serenity at least!) . . . etc. I haven’t researched either of those names, mind you.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Or you could call yourself a portmanteau, as today’s media/paparazzi are so fond of doing, like SaPo. It does have the poetic-epic ring to it, however, even without the h. In any case, so hard to choose among the three.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Has the illustrator given any suggestions as to what he (I think you said he) thinks would look best design-wise? I had a dream about my (someday) book cover and it was very clear about what name I should use, but my scientific nature overruled it, winning over the OCD strain of myself that wanted a ‘balanced-looking’ and dreamed-up name. Over the years, I’ve experimented with several; of course, my first name is more androgenous than yours. I like JSM’s ideas, that genre is important. I’ve kind of decided on ‘damn the torpedoes’ as far as sex; if someone is dumb enough to NOT choose a book based on the author’s sex (or age or race or any number of mostly unchangeable things, though one’s biological sex is more malleable these days), then do I really want them to read my book/story (answer: probably not; they’d probably hate it anyway). In the end, I think I’m going to go with my gut while telling you to go with your gut. I like Sarah Potter. Just Sarah Potter, the fantasy writer, but I fully support your choice (really helpful, right?). Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true, Leigh. Not to bother with dumb readers like that. They’d most likely give bad reviews, if they gave them at all! No, I haven’t discussed the name with my illustrator. It might be worth doing so.


  5. I voted for initials since I use them on my email address, Robin Elizabeth Oldrieve Cochran became reocochran. I like that I am rather incognito and also, gender doesn’t come into play. But everyone sees my gravatar and if I were you, your photograph and will know you are dear Sarah! Smiles, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nuisance, but initials do lend a certain authorly gravitas I think. Not that I think girls are weedy and silly 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • But, Roy, did you think that way about girls when you were aged between 8-11? Come to think of it, I was climbing trees, making stink bombs, and racing go-karts with boys up to about the age of 11. Even after that, I was a bit of a tomboy. So I don’t think that boys thought of me as weedy and silly. In fact they probably didn’t think of me as a girl at all!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a shame you can’t just go with your given name! But I can see the problem, so for that reason I voted for the initials, sounds quite distinguished 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My vote, going with your
    initials and last name, Sarah, wishing you the best. ♡


  9. I like the Sarah C. Potter version myself, and was surprised that S.C Potter gained more votes. That version depends on whether you prefer, or not, to have an element of anonymity to your author name. I was tempted to go with David Farmer for mine, but it didn’t roll off the tongue as well, besides people call me Dave and, well, everyone knows a Dave apparently. Sarah C. Potter has a touch of grown up about it. Respectable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mister has just said, re your comment, quote: “Does he think there’s a day when you (meaning me) might end up being grown up and respectable, then?” Cheeky fellow, he is. I agree with you about the anonymity thing with the initials. It sort of worries me in respect of having to start from scratch with a new name on places like Twitter.


  10. Looks like I’m with the majority ~ for once!
    Hard luck on having this dilemma but you’re going well at sorting it.


  11. I’m in the majority, great idea to have a poll. Good luck with your book read about your decision to self publish on Lucy’ s blonde write more’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Just a cautionary tale. When I published a poetic book on the history of science I was advised to change the title from ‘Full Circle’ to putting what it was on the tin ‘Involution-An Odyssey etc etc’ BUT then(because it was science) further advised to use initials P.A. rather than Philippa Rees ( because men would certainly not read science written by a women). I did that ( largely because the cover design benefitted from the balance of a short name and even won a gold award!)

    The sisterhood were enraged because I had sold out the Divine Feminine ( which does have a starring role in the Odyssey itself) so now every side has an excuse not to read it.

    The moral? Please yourself. I personally like Sarah.c Potter. ( as in e.e.cummings) Tongue in c !

    P.S.Thanks for visiting the site in question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My apologies, Philippa. I only just found your comment. Thank you for your insights. In the end, I went for Sarah Potter, not out of fear of enraging the sisterhood but because it’s the name I’m already known by in internet social circles. Too much hard work to start again with a new variation.


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