What’s Your Name?

When someone says your name for the first time, how often is it mispronounced? Even with a name as obvious as mine, well over half the time it comes back to me as “Colter” or “Cutler.”

But some folks have it made. Their names are easy to pronounce. Nora Roberts. Julia Quinn. Jane Porter.

And this is no trivial matter.

For anyone with a word-of-mouth career (e.g., authors, real estate agents, hairdressers, etc.), if people can’t pronounce your name, then they’ll be less ready to evangelize you to their friends. Because they will not have confidence that they are pronouncing your name correctly, they will be less likely to say, “I loved—insert name here! You should try her.” No one wants to be wrong or sound stupid. It’s hard to be convincing in your adoration if you can’t pronounce the object of your affection.

So, what do you do if your name is Geri Krotow and Red Garnier.

“Krotow” is a field of pronunciation landmines. “Tow” like a tow truck? Or “ow” like like a stubbed toe, “Ow!”? And is the first syllable “crah” or “crow”? As I said to Geri in an email: “I am still not sure and you said it for me once.”

And Garnier? Does it end with an “er”? Or is the French “gar-nee-ay”?

For Geri and Red, we opted for a phonetic pronunciation guide tucked neatly on the bio page, clear and big. We thought about the home page, but decided that if someone was taken enough to recommend her, they would have certainly read the bio.

I am not suggesting you change your name for publishing or for business. You have your reasons. More power to you for wanting to work under your own name. But, but if there’s an uphill climb in the making, make it easy for people to say your name.

What’s your name?

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