Branding – What’s in a Name?

Well, it turns out quite a bit. (Long story follows.)

I get regular “Google Alerts” – whenever one of my books is being distributed through a disreputable site for “free.” Rather, it’s free to folks who subscribe to these sites, or the pirates running those “free book” sites are being compensated in some way – advertising, subscriptions, patronage of some sort or another. I, in turn, receive nothing, because it is a pirated copy. I get it. Free stuff is sometimes nearly irresistible, irresistible like looting during a disaster! It’s theft, but it happens with more regularity than we like to think about.

When I learn of a new pirating source, I typically send a form “cease and desist” letter and they pull it or they don’t. It’s nearly impossible to receive compensation (they are pirates, after all. Arrrgh) and lawyers and court fees are more costly than the amount of compensation due, so a C&D is about the best you can do. Ask them to take it down and hope for the power of plenty – a lot of authors who are being pirated, filing C&D orders, or someone else suing the company and getting them shut down for a short period of time until they re-open their “store” under a different name, or slightly different name, etc. That’s not the sort of name I’m writing about. No, this story gets juicier. 😊

(Image by Felix Lichtenfeld, but offered free for commercial use through Pixabay. – i.e., not pirated.)

So just last week, I received another “alert”, this one regarding my photos that are being sold through a questionable source. I do the occasional pen and ink drawing and offer it through various sites for printing on mugs, shopping bags, book plates, etc., so it was not beyond the realm of possibility that my “pictures” were being offered for free without compensation.

My kids constantly warn me, “mom, do not google that. Whatever you do, do not plug that into a search engine! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, do not google that!!!!” It’s good advice.

I didn’t google it. I just followed the link to find out which of my pen and ink drawings was being pirated. (It’s a vanity thing in that someone thinks they’re good enough to pirate.) So I clicked the link… and oh-my-goodness!

Let me say first and foremost, those pictures are not me. Rather, do not confuse SoFie Couch, spelled with an “f” with Sophie Couch, the film star of the exercise tutorial, Naughty Pilates. She is not me (bless her heart). I am not she. Her. I don’t avoid photographs, but I don’t seek them out… and I sure as heck never posed like THAT in front of a camera! I am still laugh/crying!

But then it occurred to me, how many of her followers are clicking on my link, hoping for the reward of an entirely different brand? She may not want to be associated with my MURDER MYSTERIES or romantic comedy.

But here in is the dilemma. If a part of an author’s brand relies on her name/pseudonym, what to do with the cross-over from another person – author or film star – whose brand, er, clashes with your own? UGH!!!

In my own defense, I’ve used this nickname since it was bestowed upon me in middle school. (Sweet Sarah? Brat Pat? Joanie Macaroni? Which of you is responsible for this silliness?) I thought using a childhood nickname was a great solution to being vaguely anonymous, yet having a name to which I readily answer. Well, I guess it’s back to the drawing board. I suppose I’ll find a new nom de plume. Sadly, it means reserving that name under all of the most prominent social media sites, acquiring a new URL, etc.

Or I could just continue as SoFie Couch… and enjoy the Facebook friend requests meant for a different Sophie Couch. She is very pretty… and young… and… oh my! Maybe not.

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