Simon Wood

SHELF LIFE: Fifty Shades Of Simon Wood (or Naming Wrongs)

I’m a titleist. By that I don’t mean I’m a brand of golf ball. I mean that I pay special attention to my titles for my stories and books. I know the saying goes you can’t judge a book by its cover, but a cover does catch the reader’s eye and so does a title. A catchy title might make someone pick up a book and the jacket blurb might just seal the deal. So, I’m a titleist.
Every time I come up with a book, I do my very best to come up with a unique and interesting title—the more unique the better. The reason I want a standout title is because I want people to find my book. I’m not a big name and if I’ve picked a title a dozen other authors have used, I’m potentially sunk and a reader could go home with a book I didn’t write, but thought I wrote. So before I name a book, I look for the title on Amazon and If my proposed title pops up then I rename the book. I want to make it easy for people to find me. When someone calls out the title of my book, I want to make sure they can’t get it wrong and that they go home with a little bit of me under their arm.

But I never bothered to do that with my name. When I began writing, I debated going under a pseudonym, but when I made my first sale, my wife said, you shouldn’t hide. You should publish under your own name—and with a flush of pride, I did. What a mistake.

Much to my dismay, I am one of several Simon Woods out there writing.  I’m not the one who writes about wine, or woodwork, British social history or sneakers. To the reader, I seem to have a split personality.

The problem is that the book searches can’t make a distinction between the Simon Wood who writes about wine and me. This can make it real tricky for all the many Simon Woods writing out there. There’s still a chance of mistaken identity.

The situation has just got a little more complicated.  Until now, I was the only Simon Wood writing fiction. Now there’s a South African gent who lives in England who’s written a thriller called Beneath and a couple of people have bought the book thinking it was me.  Eek!

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can do to differentiate all my namesakes.  It’s not like the movies where no two actors can have the same name. So you (my potential readers), my namesakes and me are stuck with each other.  All I can do is strengthen my identity with the reading public—and possibly assassinate all my namesakes (the way Jet Li did in that movie THE ONE).

There’s a new wrinkle.  I also share the same name with the 2015 winner of MasterChef.  It’s been interesting to see his successes spring up on my Google alerts–and the occasional confusion between him and me.  Maybe us Simons should merge into one Super Simon??

If I could do it all again, I would go with a pen name. I’d have chosen something like Tiger Smith (which was the name of my first pet and my mother’s maiden name). Now no writer goes under that name—and for good reason, probably—but that’s not the point. It’s all about being memorable—and a unique name and title is a good place to start.

If that doesn’t work, then I’ll just to have to make my writing unique.  🙂

With hindsight, your humble author,
Simon Wood (the one who didn’t write a book about sneakers)

One Response to “SHELF LIFE: Fifty Shades Of Simon Wood (or Naming Wrongs)”

  1. Lyn C

    Do you have a middle name? Perhaps you could add your middle name’s initial.  Then again, perhaps you could be The Simon Wood  😉


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