What’s In A (Pen)Name?

As Shakespeare (Juliet really but we won’t split hairs) once eloquently put it, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

So what is in a name?

If you’re J.K. Rowling, it seems as if there’s quite a bit in a name. Hers for example.

In April 2013 a crime novel entitled The Cuckoo’s Calling written by Robert Galbraith was met by the public with minimal attention. I’m sure people asked themselves, “Who is this Robert Galbraith?” They probably put down his book in the store and walked away (or clicked away if they were online) because he was entirely unknown. The book and author became worldwide news (supposedly, though I just found out now) later that July when The Sunday Times revealed Robert Galbraith to be J.K. Rowling. The book, which had previously sold about 1,500 copies (meagerly perhaps but still a number I lust after for my future manuscript), skyrocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.

Publishers who had turned the book down were embarrassed; critics who had initially overlooked it apologized; at least one reader tried to auction off his signed copy on eBay.

Wow! If you’re J.K. Rowling then there really is something in your name! For once Shakespeare had it completely wrong. It makes me wonder for the first time (I’ve never been big on thinking and analyzing during my reading experience) about that line, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” It’s true that a rose is a rose and will smell like a rose no matter what you call it. But if you told me, “Hey, smell this clover,” I’d probably shake my head and decline. Smell a clover? Does a clover even have a scent?

Read a book by Robert Galbraith? No thanks. Who’s he? Oh! J.K. Rowling! Of course! That book of hers after Harry Potter was a turd but I’ll give her another chance.

“What’s in a name?” asked Shakespeare.

“Everything,” I say.

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About Katie St. John-Shin

I believe in living life and not letting it pass you by. I mean, come on, if you really want to do something but don't have the courage to do it so you let the opportunity disappear, you may regret it for the rest of your life. How can you know what you're capable of unless you go for it? Like every writer, I naturally plan on becoming a world-famous writer. I love reading, writing, fitness, coffee, watching my favorite movies/shows, listening to music, and trying new things even if they're sometimes terrifying. I'm a stay-at-home mom, a writer, and a POP Pilates instructor. I didn't think I'd succeed at that last one but I did it! I confronted my fears, dealt with things I didn't want to deal with, and completed the training! POP Pilates classes are coming soon to mid-Nebraska!
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