Search Results for: label/j.k. rowling\'s middle name

Why Do So Many Authors Use Initials Instead of Their First Name on Book Covers?

why did J.K. Rowling use initials instead of full name?Author initials. A.A. Milne. G.K. Chesterton. E.E. Cummings. E.B. White. C.S. Lewis. J.R.R. Tolkien. P.D. James. J.M. Barrie. H.L. Mencken. E.L. Doctorow. B.F. Skinner. T.S. Eliot. W.H. Auden. M.K. Gilroy. What’s with that? Why do so many authors use initials instead of their first name?

I’m guessing F. Scott Fitzgerald never forgave his parents for naming him Francis. But he could have gone with Frank.

When my first novel, Cuts Like a Knife, was introduced, my sister Susan asked me, “What’s with the initials on the cover of the book instead of using your full name?”

My first response was it seemed to have worked out fine for Joanne Rowling—and no, no one has been able to confirm whether her middle name is Kathleen or Katherine. (Do you know why?)

That raises a much bigger question than why I went with M.K. rather than Mark. Why did Joanne become J.K.? To my knowledge she’s never answered that question directly.

When I headed up marketing for a publishing group early in my career we made cover decisions on the basis of the old advertising rule that females will relate almost equally well to a picture of a female or a male—but generally speaking, males relate almost exclusively to a picture of a male.

I’m not claiming that rule is still true, but I suspect there’s significant truth to it. I just can’t prove it. If someone can point to research on the topic, please message me!

I have to assume that J.K. used initials to make her author name gender neutral, which makes sense for the launch of a series categorized as children’s literature.

Is that the same reason why I went with M.K. instead of Mark?

I’ll make a confession. I originally wrote the novel under a female pen name and attempted to sell it that way as an agent. After all, my lead character is a female. I got a lot of interest but to my surprise there was near universal resistance to buying a novel by a pseudonymous author – which I thought would be a marketing benefit. I wonder if Nora Roberts had a hard time convincing her agent and publisher to introduce a mystery series under the name J.D. Robb? (Hmmm. There are those initials again.) On the gender switch, Rowling got “outed” pretty quickly when she wrote as Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling.

But back to the question. Why initials on my book cover? Was it because M.K. is more gender neutral than Mark or is it because M.K. Gilroy fits easier on one line than Mark Gilroy – a decision based on style?

The former. It was a marketing decision. My guess is that is the same reason many authors use initials.

But there is another reason I went by M.K. instead of Mark. And maybe I’m not alone.

My Kristen Conner series was acquired by Jeana Ledbetter who let me know a pen name wasn’t in the cards. But then she said, “But we do think ‘M.K.’ sounds kind of cool.”

Cool. I liked the sound of that. Is it possible J.R.R. Tolkien was showing off by adding three initials to his book covers? His friend and contemporary C.S. Lewis was satisfied with just two.

I’ve always wanted to be kind of cool—so there you have it. Mystery solved. Now you know why so many authors use initials instead of full first name.  We want to be cool!

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Presumption of Guilt and the Breakdown of Public Discourse

presumption of guilt and the lack of civil discourse

The meeting of the minds has become a contact sport!

Much is made of the lack of civil discourse and the breakdown of public discourse in American culture today. Is it time we declare the meeting of the minds to be a contact sport with special headgear?

The art of diatribe – a long, angry, bitter, satirical criticism against a different opinion – has always been practiced in the public square across generations and cultures. But doesn’t it seem worse than ever? Maybe I’m waxing nostalgic, but even in my lifetime, I seem to remember healthier expressions of dialog and debate on fiercely contested ideas.

Okay … I was born shortly before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law … my childhood was marked by the Roe v. Wade, the Vietnam War, nuclear proliferation, Watergate, and economic Stagflation. So it wasn’t very peaceful then either.

But I still seem to recall the mainstream political debates – every bit as contentious as today’s issues – having more civility. I think. Well … sometimes.

The constant companion of the diatribe today is the ad hominem attack – [Read more…]

Big Government: Pendulum or Runaway Train?

Ever since FDR “saved” the economy – either through his welfare and public works programs if you like his fiscal model or by entering World War II if you believe the country was going to turn around on the basis of a business cycle anyway – despite his inept handling of the Depression – the size and role of the federal government in the business life of America has continued to grow.

Truman was too busy fighting wars and dealing with new international realities with our Soviet allies to leave a huge mark on America Inc., but conservative president, DDE, built the interstate highway system with a heavy dose of liberal spending, a symbolic and tangible symbol of a more federally driven America economy.

JFK we hardly knew you. We’ll never know his spending agenda based on his short tenure, though his activism in other areas might lead us to believe he would have been big government in all ways.

Inspired by political activists like author John Steinbeck – and in a well-documented strategy to secure minority votes, LBJ attempted to build a ‘Great Society’ – a phrase he borrowed from Steinbeck – to further expand the government’s role and responsibility as the provider and protector of the people’s welfare.

Let’s break from this historical free for all for just a second. Everyone, including politicians of all stripes, is concerned with the welfare of “the people” and individual persons. Whether one cares is not what is being debated, though in the political world it is posited by big government proponents that if you don’t want government to take responsibility for people’s welfare you don’t care about people’s welfare. The fiscal conservative or political libertarian will argue that he or she cares just as much about the welfare of individuals, he or she just does not think government does a very good job of supplying it. They want an old school model that limits the role of government to good laws and national defense – and leaves individual welfare up to individual effort, which will be much more productive and efficacious in a free enterprise system the thinking goes.

But what happens when that doesn’t work, big government proponents ask? Some free enterprise advocates agree with having clearly defined and limited temporary aid measures in place – others argue for the “family and friends” need to save you program. But based on what we’ve seen so far in our historical foray, there really haven’t been too may free enterprisers in control, no matter what we might assume from party affiliation.

RMN actually toyed with price controls, which would made him a hero among Marxist ideologues and an enigma to his independent, puritanical forebears, but ultimately, he poured his attention on foreign policy and then shifted his focus to another set of problems that were a little more personal in nature.

JC. We hardly knew you. Stagnation and malaise were the order of the day. The result of bad business or too much government intervention? Carter wasn’t sure there was a possible solution from the government or private sector and suspected we might be headed for leaner days. He spoke about those suspicions a little too forthrightly and the electorate lost as much confidence in JC as in the country’s future.

That ushered in the reign of RWR, who was sure it was the latter, too much government intervention, that was the problem. No one in the media and not even his vice president believed in his “voodoo” economics, but he get elected. He cut capital gains taxes, eliminated and simplified regulations to doing business, and cut income taxes for the middle and upper middle classes. (He would have done the same for the lower and wealthiest classes but it is impossible to cut anything from nothing.) It can be argued that he restored America’s business star, setting the stage for the largest capital growth campaign in history and the rise of Bill Gates. What he didn’t do, however, was cut government spending. And it wasn’t just because he built up the military. Liberals and columnists – I would have said Liberal columnists but why be redundant? – bemoaned all the benefits he cut from the poor. Not true. He did occasionally cut government program increases but never spending.

GHB (W’s dad). We hardly knew you, either. I do recall H was kinder and gentler than Reagan – at least he said he was – and raised taxes to prove it despite the protests of lip readers to the contrary.

WJC got his butt kicked on socialized medicine early in his first term. His solution? Keep Hillary away from Congressional hearings and enjoy Reagan’s promised ‘peace dividend.’ Then he started experiencing the joy of balancing the budget and reducing the federal deficit so much he went out and tweaked some welfare policies so that they became workfare policies. For the first time in 60 years people were involuntarily cut from welfare rolls. Bill might be the last and the only fiscal conservative of the past 100 years. Deep down, I suspect that still bothers him.

GWB. Or just W. A man of principle, faith, and profligate spending habits. He and the man who followed him, BHO, are architects and builders of an expanded role for government through TARP(s) that might have made FDR’s head spin. Even the German socialists are confused. When they throw money at economic problems it is at least to save unnecessary jobs. In America’s iteration of corporate welfare, it is to eliminate jobs and save companies.

The latest Obama move has been to appoint a ‘Special Master for Compensation’ to oversee executive and employee pay at companies that accepted government bailout money. Any wonder so many are fighting like crazy to give this ‘free’ money back? Any wonder Hugo Chavez, left-wing socialist president of Venezuela, claims he is more right wing than Obama?

So is the size and scope of the federal government cyclical – a pendulum that is simply on a high note of growth? Or is it a runaway train navigating hair-pin turns as adroitly as possible?

If these economic days are tough on your personal welfare and you see a bright shining light ahead, it might mean there is hope at the end of the tunnel for you. Or it might mean you better jump off the track in a hurry if you don’t want to get hit!

Bestselling Books of 2012

2012 was a good year to sell books as an author if your last name was James or Collins.

The January 4, 2012, online of edition of Publishers Weekly provided a chart with three bestseller lists, all dominated at the top by Fifty Shades of Grey (E.L. James) and The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins).

Bestselling Books of 2012
Nielsen Bookscan Top 20
Amazon Kindle Top 20
Amazon Print Top 20
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)
1. Fifty Shades of Greyby E.L. James (Vintage)
1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darkerby E.L. James (Vintage)
2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (Vintage)
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)1
4. The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
6. Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set by E.L. James (Vintage)
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
8. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
9. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
9. Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Berkley)
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
10. Fifty Shades Trilogy Box Set by E.L. James (Vintage)
10. The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday)
10. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
11. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
11. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day (Berkley)
11. The Hunger Games Trilogy Box Set by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
12. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)
12. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central)
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Hyperion)
13. Defending Jacob by William Landay (Delacorte)
13. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (Hyperion)
14. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
14. War Brides by Helen Bryan (AmazonEncore)
14. The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition by the College Board (The College Board)
15. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)2
15. A Game of Thronesby George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
15. A Song of Fire and Ice, Books 1–4 by George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)3
16. The Innocent by David Baldacci (Grand Central)
16. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
17. The Hunger Games Triology Box Set by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
17. No Easy Day by Mark Owen (Dutton)
17. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (Amer. Psychological Assn.)
18. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Little, Brown)
18. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (Bantam)
18. Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt)
19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)
19. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (Scribner)
19. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House)
20. The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday)
20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Berkley)
20. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)
Nielsen/BookScan (week ending Dec. 30, 2012)
Amazon Kindle (as of Dec. 31, 2012)
Amazon (as of Dec. 31, 2012)