Monday, October 10, 2005

The "F" Word (no, the other one)

In The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Douglas Adams writes of a best-selling author whose primary qualification is that his first name happens to fit perfectly above his last name when placed upon the cover of a novel in the usual way. While I hope that there is more justice in the world than to allow that to be a deciding factor, I’m forced to wonder just how much an author’s name matters when querying an agent or selling a book.

I admit, I’m stuck with a rather plain name as far as the publishing world goes. Chris Holm has none of the cadence or charm of Tess Gerritsen or Harlan Coben. It doesn’t have the bad-pun-but-good-blurb-inducing quality of Stephen King or Tim Powers. No amount of squeezing makes Chris fit above Holm in a manner that suggests anything other than awkward typesetting.

Of course, none of that seems to bother Dan Brown much, but I digress.

So here I am, left with the last refuge of the forgettably-named – the middle initial. As a kid, I always wondered what was up with those authors who seemed so strangely attached to their middle names, but now I know. Google "Chris Holm" and you’ll find a geology professor, a Scandinavian metal guitarist, and an off-road unicyclist, just to name a few. Google "Chris F. Holm" and, well, you get me. Is it name-recognition? Nope, but it’s a start.

The "F" is for Frederick, by the way. Yeah, I know. But how am I gonna compete with an off-road unicyclist?