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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting ready to launch a YA series, and I just found out that the pen name I've chosen is the same last name as another pretty well known trad pubbed YA author. I'm self-pubbing.  Nothing has gone public yet.  I could change the name on the cover if I had to, as well as on the website.  That first names are very different, but...

How bad would it be to keep the pen name???
 
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Bad as in immoral? I'd say you are pretty low on the scale.

Bas as in that could screw up your ability to brand? I'd say pretty high. A lot of course depends on how common the last name is and how similar to her style you are. But as a matter of branding if you haven't actually done anything yet, you might want to pick something more unique.
 

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Not bad at all!  No way.  For all the readers know, this was your given-by-birthrite name.  No worries as far as I'm concerned ... I think you proceed as planned.

Just to be certain, I pulled the most popular YA author I know (Stephenie Meyer) and typed in Meyer under Teen Books ... on the first page alone there were two other authors, same genre, same last name.
 

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As long as the two first names are quite different, I see nothing wrong with it. If anything, it would get you shelved next to her if you were ever to find your books in a bookstore or library. And trust me, that's a good thing.
 

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Yeah, you're not doing anything morally bad or wrong. Names are no as unique as we want them to be. (Except my real name. I am a special d*mn snowflake, darn it). Sometimes when I'm looking for last names for characters I look at census data that tells you how often that name occurs in the US and man... there are a hundred of every one of us.

Since you haven't launched anything yet, especially if your books are in the same genre (Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, etc) since you're in the same catagory (YA) it'd be easier to help you stick out and avoid accusations of "trying to ride someone's coattails." Which is unlikely but you never know.

That said, if you really, really love the pen name and the first name is both different enough, I'd say keep it.

Two authors I always mixed up? Veronica Roth and Veronica Rossi. Not their faults either but names are close together sometimes.
 

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r author's books show up in any search for yours though.
 

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If the first names are difference then I think it is okay. If the names are the same and yours is a pen name, then I'd change it. However, if it is your birth name then so what.
 

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Speaking as someone who released titles under a penname, then had someone else publish something unrelated under the exact same penname, months later…

In my opinion, you're fine. If your planned series is comparable to hers, I'd even keep the surname. (Though if it's not particularly common, I might adjust the spelling slightly.)

But if your planned series is not comparable, I'd look for another surname, for shelving purposes. :)
 

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I would think as long as your first name is different, there shouldn't be an issue. If the name is something really rare, then maybe you might want to think about it.

I had a similar issue. I was going to use the name Steve King, but I guess there's already some guy using a similar name, so I'll use my second choice Jack Rowlng.
 

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Dee Ernst said:
I'm getting ready to launch a YA series, and I just found out that the pen name I've chosen is the same last name as another pretty well known trad pubbed YA author. I'm self-pubbing. Nothing has gone public yet. I could change the name on the cover if I had to, as well as on the website. That first names are very different, but...

How bad would it be to keep the pen name???
I think it would be bad in the sense that readers will assume you picked that name to piggyback on the other author's success.
 
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It's not wrong, but it's probably going to hurt you more than anyone else.  I'd change it.

When I googled my name, the only other person I found was a hockey player by the name of Joe Vasicek.  Not too much overlap in those audiences, so hopefully I'm okay.
 

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Change it. Regardless of intention it makes it seem like you're trying to capitalize off that other author - traditionally published or not. It's not the same as naming your book 'Fifty Shades of (Traveling) (Soup Recipes) (Bondage Themes) whatever else but it's not great either particularly since you have the choice to change it before you start and it's not your name.
 

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So I suppose that Caitie Quinn needs to change her pen name, since Julia Quinn is a NY Times bestselling romance author? 'Cuz that's exactly what it sounds like several here are advocating.

Seriously, as long as the two first names are quite different, what difference does it make that the last names are the same (unless the last name is so incredibly unique that nobody else could possibly have it). It might come as some shock, but even "uncommon" last names have hundreds-to-thousands of people just in the US alone who share that same last name.

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for your feedback, everyone.  Renu decided for me.  She did my cover - which is awesome and I can't wait to show you guys - and she'll change the name for free.  SO sweet!!  There are no other teen YA authors with the new name, and the domain name wasn't taken, so.....

Welcome to the world, Marijon Braden.

Although, Otis McSparkleworth was VERY tempting.
 

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I see you've already decided.

Well, I'll say my piece anyway.  ;)

I think it depends on the name and on the genre. If it's a common name (Smith, Jones, Brown?), then I wouldn't even worry about it. Meyer, as has been mentioned, I might rethink, but only if I was writing YA PNR. If you're writing realistic contemp YA fiction and the author in question writes a different YA genre (fantasy, dystopian, PNR, etc.), then don't even worry about it. If it's the same, though, you may want to rethink it.

Hope that helps!

Rue
 
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