This was a great question that came our way:
Although I have been cultivating my online presence as a writer, I have found that someone who shares my name already has a significant online presence. This person does not live a Christian lifestyle: in fact, I would be terribly embarrassed and my professional integrity could be harmed if anyone mistook me for this individual. Perhaps other authors may face the same dilemma.
Are there any suggestions for a new author who has to overcome the presence of another online? Would it be necessary to write under a pseudonym?
That is a tough one.
Our own Karen Ball had someone by the same name who was a practicing psychic. So when she created her web site she used karenballbooks.com since karenball.com was taken at the time. (Recently Karen dropped that site and moved to her wonderful new site for writers called WriteFromTheDeep.com.)
But if the other person is well known, or their site is terribly “flagrant” (If you know what I mean) you could decide to use a pen name. But if you’ve already gone far down the path under your real name, then it’s too late.
If you only just started blogging or only have abandoned your online presence, website-wise, then you have an opportunity to reboot.
One caution about pen names and Facebook. They can be miserable with “fake IDs.” If they find out they will shut down your site in a heartbeat (read this article for an author’s horror story with Facebook). I would google something like “authors pen names Facebook” and read about how to handle that (Here is one article about “Pen Names and Social Media.”. They have good reasons because of predators who use Facebook for evil. But that security splashes over onto those who are trying to use a professional pen name.
I have a half dozen clients who write under their maiden name. One was because her married name is unspellable…. Another was for protection. Another because she published before she got married. They started their careers and social media presence under that name and have had no trouble since. One who got married set up a separate site for her family’s use under her real name…without trouble.
Ultimately it is your decision. But once you make it, stick with it.
And one little reminder to everyone? If you have a domain name make sure that the email associated with your registration is up to date. We had a client whose domain name was his real name (like stevelaube.com), but the registration expired. He had changed his email address a couple years earlier but did not update his domain registration. The registrar sent him a notice saying it was time to renew his site, but he never got it. The day his domain name became available a “Date Older Women” site took it and redirected all the traffic intended for his author website to something very unseemly. It took two years for him to get the domain name back again.
Don’t let that happen to you!