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What’s In a Name?

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Photo by John Morgan

Please welcome Julia Munroe Martin as a new semi-regular contributor with Writer Unboxed! We are thrilled this long-time community member will be with us to share her wit and wisdom with us all. Welcome, Julia!

I’m not that attached to my name (or at least I never thought I was). Maybe because I’ve had so many. Let me explain.

I was born Julia Canick. Shortly thereafter, my father exited the scene, rarely to be seen again (a long story, a sad story). Enter Dad #2 who adopted me legally (thanks, Dad!) making me Julia Munroe. Oops, make that Julia Suzanne Munroe—because I got to pick a middle name too, and I chose my doll’s name. Hey, I was four years old!

Nicknames. I’ve had a few. Until I went to college, everyone called me Julie. I’ve also been called JuJu and JuJu the Bear (embarrassing to admit, but now you know). And Jules. I like that one.

Before I got married MEH (My Engineer Husband) and I had “the talk” about names. As in, would I or would I not take his. MEH is probably the least demanding, nicest guy I’ve ever met. So when he said he thought we should both have the same last name, and he didn’t want to change his, I decided to change mine. Legally I became Julia Munroe Martin, street name Julia Martin.

But then I had kids and I became Mom, sometimes Mama, Mother (I hate that), Mommy, and occasionally Ma. Then, you know how it goes, as my kids grew up and went to school, I became Mrs. Martin, Mrs. J to some best friends.

What’s the point, JuJu?

Like us all, I have a lot of names. And truth be told, I’ve answered to many more. But the point is, for the first time ever, I’m realizing I have a bad name, if there can be such a thing. At least way too common. When I first submitted my writing (before Amazon or Google, mind you), I used Julia Martin as my author name.

Why not? I lived in blissful ignorance that other writers (and hundreds of other people, too) had the same name. But once I was able to do Internet searches, I realized there were other Julia Martin authors. Worse yet, there were other Julia M. Martins, other J. M. Martins, and other J. Martins. So I started using Julia Munroe Martin as my author name. I built a platform.

So what’s the problem, Jules?

Here it is. I have this mystery novel I’m self publishing. I want to use my “platform name.” But I’m also about to query literary agents with a new book. Different genre. I’ve read you shouldn’t “genre hop,” with the same name, specifically you should use a different name for different genres. And I’d like to do that, but J. Martin, J.M. Martin, Julia Martin, and Julia M. Martin are all taken. So, should I be Jules Martin, J.S. Martin, or JuJu-the-Bear Martin? Of course what I’m really worried about is whether I’ll be taken as seriously as a writer of multiple genres . . . will a new name really help alleviate that fear?

If so . . . then maybe something brand new? A pseudonym. Stephen King sometimes uses Richard Bachman. Mark Twain and George Eliot, enough said. Kilgore Trout, a character in a Kurt Vonnegut book, was then used as a pen name by Philip Jose Farmer. Maybe I should use a pen name. But what? How about Stephen King? Samuel Langhorne Clemens? Scarlett O’Hara? Can I really stand one more name?

Or is it really much ado about nothing, J.M.?

Before I take the large step of taking on yet another name, I want to be sure. Should I just use Julia Munroe Martin for everything and be done with it? After all, isn’t a rose by any other name a rose is a rose is a rose? Or something like that? Hey, maybe I should change my name to Rose.

But seriously. Other authors, have you had this experience? What did you do? And if you’re an agent or editor, I’d really love to have you weigh in!

About Julia Munroe Martin [2]

Julia Munroe Martin [3] (@jmunroemartin [4]) is a writer and blogger who lives in an old house in southern coastal Maine. Julia's other passion is photography, and if she's not writing at the dining room table or a local coffeeshop, you'll likely find her on the beach or dock taking photos. Julia writes The Empty Nest Can Be Murder mystery series as J. M. Maison.