What’s in a name? For authors, a lot!

What’s in a name? If you’re an author, a whole lot! I found this out when I got married in August 2008 and my former name, Bev Walton-Porter, became Bev Sninchak. Since I’ve taken on a new married name, I’ve spent endless hours and countless words trying to school people on how to say the name and spell it. Once they’ve mastered one or both, they still have a hard time remembering my new last name. That can be detrimental—and even fatal—to an author’s sales and career.

Why?

It can only be a particular type of hell for a writer to end up with a last name that’s confusing to so many people. I totally get that. I get that my married last name, Sninchak, is confusing and trips people up. However, I’m constantly amused—and annoyed—at how many people don’t even TRY to pronounce it the right way. It’s understandable that they stumble over it, but do they also have to add additional letters that don’t even appear in the name, such as “z,” “h” or “m” as well?

Here are the butchered versions I’ve heard thus far:

–Shimanik (what? There’s an “h” and an “m” I was unaware of? Meanwhile, let’s just completely erase the “ch” altogether!)

–Sinchak (okay, that’s close, so I’ll relent)

–S-nine-in-chak (methinks you’re adding in too many syllables)

and, the winner from today:

–Shizak (WTF? How in the HELL do you come up with THAT?! You lost BOTH “n” letters, added an “h” and then a “z” as well?!)

My husband, Paul, laughs and says he’s all too familiar with it and he’s been putting up with it his whole life. So yeah, this is new to me, but I’m pretty sure if you took the time to sound it out, you could get CLOSE to the pronunciation. I knew his sister in school, and I was able to figure out how to pronounce Sninchak correctly by seeing it in print (school newspaper) without ever having heard it before.

The easiest way is to ask if people can say “sneeze.” You know, the “sn” sound. Okay then. That would be “Snin” and then “chak.” If you take it slow and really READ the word, then pronounce it, you’ll probably get it right or come very close.

So why am I bringing all of this up? Because when I first got married, I considered moving all my writing over to my married name. That hasn’t worked well. People can’t remember the name, much less spell it. That’s death to a writer/author’s sales if someone can’t remember the name or how to spell it.

Given this situation, I’m going to continue to write under the name Bev Walton-Porter. It’s familiar, it’s been around for decades and people know how to spell/pronounce it.

Perhaps the upside—if there is one—is that I’ll maintain some anonymity in my personal life since I only use my married name in the day-to-day realm. I suppose there’s that. Yes, quite. Quite indeed.