There’s a Bimbo on the Cover Verse 7: What’s in a Name?

Verse 7:

And my name is on the cover of my book.

Yes, my name is on the cover of my book.

Although I hate to tell it, the publisher misspelled it,

but my name is on the cover of my book.

This is easy. And true. I received the cover flats of my second novel, TAMINY, and was enchanted … except that the ladies on the cover were not wearing the clothes I gave them in the book (kids and their petty rebellions!). It took me a moment to realize that there was a missing letter in my name.

“Ah!” you may be thinking. “What do you expect when you spell your middle name with two “As”? I mean, Kaathryn? Really?”

Er, no. I’ve actually only had my middle name (which is an old world spelling) misspelled once. Check it—there are two “As” in Kaathryn. What there are not is two “Hs” in Bohnhoff. My last name (which was perfectly spelled on the first novel) was now Bohnoff. I emailed my editor and timidly noted this. She was ferklempt, apologetic, and immediately had the cover redone.

Since then, I’ve had my last name misspelled in a myriad interesting ways, usually on SF convention badges, in program books and on table tents. This reached its height at a convention several years ago at which my husband and I were performing as musicians in addition to my participation as a writer. Bohnhoff was misspelled in the program book in two different ways. It was misspelled one way on my bio (Bonhoff) and another way on my husband’s (Bonheff). It was misspelled on my badge, but not on my table tent. and in one instance, my husband appeared as Joe Bohnhoff. Our friends thought this was a hoot and called him “Joe” throughout the con.

Most recently, the Science Fiction Book Club spelled me Bohnoff in the emailed ad for their Coruscant Nights Omnibus edition. I emailed my editor at Del Rey and said, “Hey, I just got the ad for the Coruscant Nights omnibus. I’m tickled that my name is now on the  project, but they spelled it wrong. I’m not insisting they change it. I’m just sayin’.”

The marketing materials were changed. Have I mentioned that I love my editor?

I mentioned the misspelling thing to Kristine Kathryn Rusch and she acknowledged that the same thing had happened to her. One of her novels (I believe it was White Mists of Power), had her name spelled correctly on the cover, but on the flyleaf, her middle name was spelled “Catherine”.

That hasn’t happened to me . . . yet. But there’s a first time for everything.

Next time: Reviews — What were they reading?

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About Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Writer of speculative fiction as the result of a horrible childhood incident involving Klaatu and a robot named Gort. Author of The Mer Cycle trilogy.

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9 Responses to There’s a Bimbo on the Cover Verse 7: What’s in a Name?

  1. Gabriele says:

    That’s why I’m going for an English pen name – I don’t want to imagine what would happen to my German one (with an umlaut to boot). 🙂

  2. When you select your pen name, put it into Amazon. This will kick up everybody who is already using that name. You will never (or hardly ever) be the only writer of that name, but that is not important as long as you are the only one in your genre. (There is another Brenda Clough, but she writes books about mangrove ecology in Australia, so the possibility of confusion is low.)

    It is also prudent to select a name that is not -wildly- well known for other things. Your publisher will not play ball if you want to be J.K. Rowling even if you write about mangrove ecology. And Anders Breivik is done, as far as pen names go.

    And, pick one that is easy to spell!

  3. One of the reasons I use pen names is the spelling thing. Actually I chose Irene Radford, my middle and maiden name because there was already an author using my husband’s last name of Karr and there are too many permutations of Phyllis to be safe.

    Even so people still try to put me on programs as Irene Kerr or Philys Renfrow.

    Calling mistakes to their attention means they will never forget your name again. Well…er…there is one guy who on a concom who WON’T remember. But that’s another story not fit for public consumption.

  4. At least your name is on the front cover. Mine was left off the cover of my Daredevil tie-in (although it was on the spine and back cover), and the design was such that it seemed a shame (to someone, anyway) to plunk it in after the fact.

    And yes, I have too many Es and too few Bs for some people: I get Madeline, Madelyn, etc., and Robbins, all the time. I don’t really blame them; I was nine before I could reliably spell my full name!

    • I’ve several times suggested to my agent that I take a pen name so that the bloody thing fits on the covers better. Something short. Sweet. I even picked out such names. But my agent has always said “No, let the publisher suggest a pen name.” Only one editor ever had—Stan Schmidt had a backlog of my stories once upon a time and I sent him yet another. “I can’t buy it right now,” he said, Then added, “Unless you’re wiling to take a pen name, otherwise, could send it back in the fall?”

      I passed on the pen name and sent it back in the fall. 🙂

      I could go back to my maiden name: Mary Harber … er, no. Maybe not.

  5. Frankly, if you’re going to go to the trouble of a pen name, you should pick one that is fun. This is an opportunity to switch genders, for instance.

  6. Gabriele says:

    I’m seriously considering a male or gender neutral pen name. I write those ‘boy books’ (epic Fantasy, military historical fiction), after all. 😉

  7. Elyse Grasso says:

    My first name was originally Elise: the change makes it slightly less likely that people will transpose the middle two letters (one bank needed 3 tries to get the checks printed correctly before I changed it). But I’m sure if I ever get officially published my name will show up as Elsye somewhere in the marketing materials.

    I’ve long thought that if I needed an alias for some reason that was annoying, I should use my grandmother’s maiden name: Breault… pronounced ‘Bro’.

  8. Mary Osmanski says:

    Brenda may remember a Disclave over 20 years ago now when Roger MacBride Allen’s publisher was hosting a party for Roger’s latest book. Some of us were helping to set up the refreshments table when someone took a good, close look at one of the 20+ identical pb book covers that had been taped to the walls around the room. Roger McBride Allen.