Why I Chose my Pen Name
I’ll be honest with you. I’m not particularly worried about the general public knowing my name. I know back in the day, when the internet was a younger, more mystifying thing, people were especially paranoid about having their name out on interwebs. In fact, even a year ago, when I started Comfy Girl With Curls, I was hesitant to use my real name—for fear of what? I really have no idea. Stalkers maybe? Identity theft?
As time went on, however, I realized that if I wanted to be a content creator, I’d have to be willing to attach my name to my content. The content I’ve created so far hasn’t been particularly controversial, and I’m quite fond of my name, so I figured I would like people to know me as me, versus as a pseudonym. This train of thought became especially top-of-mind as I looked to create a second website. I was wanting to start building the foundation for what I was (and am still) hoping to be my author’s platform. This is where I hit a bit of a conflict.
I am sure that at some point (or at several points) in your life, you have Googled yourself. Maybe a few times out of curiosity, or maybe while job hunting, you wanted to see what your potential employers might see. Maybe, your name is your brand, and you are working hard to rank high on the search engine. I don’t remember exactly when or why I began searching my name online, but I do know that when I did, I realized that there was another girl out there showing me up.
Go ahead. Google me. Type Kaya Tomash into your search bar, no quotations, no specifications. Unless something has changed from the time of me writing this post, Google will think you are wrong, and provide you with results for *Kaya Thomas. I encourage you to switch it up a bit too. Add the word blogger in there, or writer, or black girl. Each time, unless you use quotation marks to specify that you are searching for “Tomash”, Google will think you mistyped, and “correct” you.
As a girl looking to build a brand around my name, this was problematic, and a little discouraging for me. I’m not going to lie though, I am a huge fan of Kaya Thomas. Due to my history of searching myself, I feel like I can say “I knew her before she was famous”, and have been excited to follow her success. Seriously, each and every time I have Googled myself over the past couple years, I have gotten an inspiring update on her life. This young woman is incredibly smart. She is a computer scientist, app developer, and writer. She has even met Michelle Obama. Seriously. Go Google her (or Google me), to learn more about her.
So anyways, I realized it would be a lot of work to try and outrank the other Kaya . I wanted it to be as easy as possible for others to find me when looking for me in relation to my content. One day, when I’m a published author (that’s me speaking it out into the universe), I don’t want people to get too confused. Because come on, who are we kidding? People would Google me, see Kaya Thomas’s photo, and be like “yup, that’s her”, because we’re both black women. I could go deeper into that conversation, but I’m not going to touch it right now.
So that’s where the brainstorming came in. I proposed a few different pen name options using my initials and different parts of my full name. After pitching it to friends and family, the unanimous decision was K. E. Tomash. The initials are my first and middle name. I did some test searches, and the only competing entries were keto mash recipes; something I felt I could deal with.
Now, this “identity” is just a couple months old, and if you search for K. E. Tomash, the whole first page of Google is actually me, so I’m feeling like I made the right choice. I guess in the end, only time will tell how it works out. Next step is write, write, and write some more.
Also, if you were too lazy to test out Googling my name or Kaya Thomas’s name. Read more about her here.
* Fun fact: Kaya Thomas and I pronounce our names differently. She is K-eye-a to my K-ay-a
Title photo @ CreateHer Stock