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A Better Name

I like my name quite a bit.  "Josiah Chiappelli."  It's got a decent beat to it, a good flow.  Melodious, in a way.  The syllables each end in an open vowel sound and form a good iambic accent rhythm.  It's unique in that there aren't too many Josiahs on the East Coast, and there aren't too many Chiappellis anywhere.  A hint of ethnicity to give me that melting pot charm and a hint of misleading religiosity to attract those who look for such things.

Too bad nobody can say it properly.

Having a good name seems to be pretty important when it comes to being a marketable writer.  Or a marketable anything, really.  In most careers, your output is the most important thing.  You want to be a high-value lawyer?  Win cases.  You want to make more money as a real estate agent?  Sell more property.  You want to make any money as a writer?  You better sell yourself first, and then your writing second.

Stephen King.  Dan Brown.  Charles Dickens.  Those names are easy.  I need an easy name so that people don't see my book on a shelf or on and then say, "Written by Joshua Chap... chip... cha-cha... well gosh dangit, this here name reminded me that I can't read, so I guess there ain't no reason to buy this here book! WHOO-HOO, I'M WEARING IT AS A HAT!"

I knew Google Image Search wouldn't let me down.

I've given myself pseudonyms before.  I may use them again.  This topic was actually a pretty serious problem I had in getting my blog started.  I waffled on it for ages before I even started drafting any posts.  If I start my blog with a new fake name, do I need to go back and "fix" all of my other stuff?  What about my Project 57 credits, which show my real name?  Do I need to be concerned about my company's clients Googling me and reading all the dumb crap I write here?

For a long time I used the name "Xavier T. Nougat."  It was some silly thing that I'm pretty sure I heard on The Simpsons. (In fact, I'm certain it was on that show as a parody of a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor.)  It's an okay Internet name.  I'm not convinced it's a very good pen name.  If I write something that is intended to be frightening or thoughtful, I'm putting myself at a significant disadvantage by naming myself "Xavier T. Nougat."  Who's going to take anything a guy named Nougat says seriously?

At one point I thought about abbreviating my last name to "Chip" or "Chips," and then doing a play on my first name.  Joe Chip, or Josie Chips.  Then a friend said, "Hey, sounds like a porno name!"  Then he smiled all big and goofy and waited for a laugh that didn't come.  I don't see it.  Pornography?  Really?  What would Josie Chips specialize in - leper porn?

I also thought about how I used to go by "Joe" whenever I worked with people who had a hard time saying my name.  (This was actually just one time, when I worked as a paralegal in an immigration office.  I have never before or since needed to go by "Joe.")  Whenever I left a voicemail for somebody, I'd always start my message with, "This is Joe calling from...."  Joe Calling.  That could be a decent pen name.  Too bad I don't care much for the name "Joe."  Apologies to all the Joes out there reading at the moment.

Stephanie suggested that I try "Jonah Peli."  It's not bad.  Would it be better as "Peli" or as "Pelly?"

Maybe someday when this blog has any decent amount of traffic I'll put up a poll, and everybody else can decide which name they like best.  I can be the first writer that asks the public to name me.  Sort of.  No write-ins, please - I'm not going to go by "Dickbag Munschin" or anything.

Hmm... Dickbag Munschin....

Uh... I think Google Image Search just let me down.
The thing is, by the time I get to that point, I wonder if there would really be any reason to have a pen name.  What I want is for people to just not turn me down for stupid reasons.  If I gain any renown at all with my true name, wouldn't my fans stick with me?  They'd be happy to look at each book as its own separate thing, independent from the rest of my career, right?

Probably not.  J.K. Rowling has addressed this already.  I would at least need to have a different name for each of the general voices that I write in - that way people don't buy a Jonah Peli novel expecting his usual insightful science-fiction and instead being greeted with the carefree exuberance of Xavier T. Nougat.

Or I could just tell everybody to suck it, because I'm writing by my rules, and I don't gotta compromise with your system, man.  Integrity above all else!


Nah, I'd like some money, please.  Let's vote on my name in a year or two when I have a couple of regulars around here.