Friday, February 2, 2007

Does where you fall in the alphabet matter?

I'm planning to continue my favorite author series over the weekend, so I was just looking through my LibraryThing collection to see who's next. I've hit the C's. And there are a lot of C's. In general, a disproportionate part of my total collection is by authors whose last names begin with A, B, C, or D. And I'm trying to decide whether that's purely coincidental.

I'm sure it's at least partly so. To some degree, it's because several of those early-alphabet authors happen to be highly prolific. Jo Beverley, Mary Balogh, Bill Bryson, Bernard Cornwell, Jennifer Crusie, and especially Meg Cabot have all written a lot of books, and I've read most of them. But CS Lewis, LM Montgomery, and Patrick O'Brian, just to name a few, weren't exactly slouches in the productivity department, and it's not enough to even out the alphabetical distribution.

So I can't help wondering if having a name near the front of the alphabet aids your success as an author by placing your books near the front of your section of the bookstore where browsers will see them quickly. I hope it's not true. For one thing, all those B and C authors above are good, and I'd hate to think that, say, Bernard Cornwell and Jennifer Crusie would toil in obscurity if their names happened to be Bernard Wilson and Jennifer Yates! And there are certainly plenty of mid- to late-alphabet writers who do just fine--King, Rowling, and Roberts, just to name the obvious REALLY big names.

Still. It's enough to make a Wilbanks wonder if she shouldn't dust off an early-alphabet name from her family tree (I've got Carlson and Carden, not to mention Fancher, Fraser, and Fowler), or take the male pen name suggestion some of my friends came up with when I told them about my plans to try my hand at historical adventure fiction--Will Banks.

2 comments:

Keira Soleore said...

Susan, it was great meeting you earlier today at the GSRWA. You brought up this topic about pseudonyms during the meeting, too. The suggestion from someone about finding a name really close to your real name, but with a twist, or a male version sounds like a fun late Friday evening project. :) I look forward to many more chats with you online till the March meeting. Hope you've signed up for the national conf.

Susan Wilbanks said...

Keira, it was great meeting you, too.

No National for me this year--I'm doing the Historical Novel Society conference in Albany instead, since it's only held in the US every other year. (http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/albany/conference.htm) I'm planning to go to the '08 RWA National, though, since it's so close.