Tuesday, April 12, 2011

publishing misnomers

Some may recall that last year when I got married I put an excruciating amount of thought into changing my name, both legally and professionally.  I ended up deciding to publish as Name Initial Maiden-Initial Last.  It has since become apparent that I made the wrong decision.

With this new outpour of publications and grants, my family has realized that they are substantially upset that since my maiden name is represented only as an initial, I am not recognizable as their kin.  I have that distinctive maiden name where I'm related to everyone else in the world who has it, and my family is very upset that it is not represented.  They didn't care nine months ago before I had published or been awarded anything, but feelings change with press coverage...

The obvious solution to this is to scrap Name Initial Maiden-Initial Last and use Name Maiden Last from now on.

A brief refresher on why I did not do this in the first place:
1) Publishing with two last names (and no, Maiden does not pass for an obvious middle name) confuses potential "referencers" who would proceed to cite me incorrectly.  This leads to a dual body problem: one "Last, NameInitial.MaidenInitial." and one "Maiden-Last, NameInitial."... and being two people is not ideal;
2) Publishing with two last names confuses potential bosses who would proceed to not figure out how to administer my paychecks and W2s correctly;
3) I can't hyphenate because I don't legally have two last names, and hell if I'm going to go through that legal name-change bullshit again to do something that I didn't want to do in the first place.
Although all these points remain totally valid, I may have to throw all caution to the wind and change my publishing name.  Indeed, the very thing I thought I had avoided with my previous reasoning.  When I first changed my name, I had no publications yet and it didn't matter.  But now, I'm wrapping up revisions on my fifth manuscript, and I have two (publicized) fellowships.  Good thing that in five years no one will remember my first five manuscripts and two fellowship awards anyway?...


  1. It's a good problem to have! I, too, went from a very uncommon last name to something far more ubiquitous. However, I have no published manuscripts - sigh! ;-)

  2. so as to not leave this open ended, I did decide to stick with my initial decision to publish literature with H.K.'s name and represent in all public media (should I ever get recognition like this again) with my family's name. Fair, sentimentally satisfactory, and logistically sound.

  3. I'd say that's a fair compromise! I'm sure there will be many more publications in the future.

  4. I know this post is old, but I thought I would share anyway. I am currently regretting my name change decision as well. I have been publishing under two last names (Maiden Married), however, no one can get it right. Not the indexing systems, not the publishers, not the authors who cite me. It's so frustrating. Half of the time I am listed correctly, but the other half of the time people only use the second name. This is particularly bad since it's my unique maiden name that colleagues know me by. I am planning to begin hyphenating for publication, but I really don't want to have different legal and professional names. I also don't really want to have a hyphenated name. What to do, what to do?

  5. Thanks for your comment! I am sorry that you're experiencing so much trouble publishing with both last names. Hyphenating, for you, does sound like a good option since you've already got both names out there. Putting them together shouldn't be too much trouble in terms of keeping your full body of already published work recognizable! For me, it is actually comforting to hear that someone is experiencing these two-name problems in publishing and that I wasn't worried over nothing. Best of luck to you!