A few months ago I posted here and on Twitter under the name “hope101/Tartitude.” I wasn’t truly anonymous; I had a link to my blog on Facebook; many of the people who followed me here are writing friends, and were already privy to my real life name. But I left it that way for a few reasons:
- Inertia: it takes a lot of effort to evoke change, then follow its ripples through all the venues I frequent these days.
- Sentimental attachment to the name “hope.”
- When I pretended I was anonymous, I gave myself permission to experiment and be playful — two things I embrace and want to do more of in my life.
- I was subconsciously hedging my bets so that if I “failed” to make it as a writer, the fallout wouldn’t contaminate my personal life.
Then a few things happened in the Tartiverse:
- I hit a new point in my commitment to writing. More and more, I’ve found myself muttering, ”Oh, just get over yourself already and do it.” And I have — “it” being both large and small behavior changes.
- Therese and Kathleen paid me the huge compliment of picking me for Writer Unboxed, necessitating my…defruiting. I obtained a decent picture of myself and decided on my writing name.
- To my surprise, the changes in #2 were quite easy and felt liberating.
- There is so much change in my life at present, one more tiny one ain’t gonna break me.
- I seem to goof off just fine as Jan O’Hara, thank you very much.
That’s the context. Then yesterday, through a series of virtual breadcrumbs, I landed at Kristen Lamb’s blog. The rest, as they say, is all her fault.
Seriously, if you plan for a career in writing, read this article. Not only did she eliminate the excuses I held onto, she made the point that consumers do not enter the bookstore looking for their purchases under a witty Twitter handle or blog name. Yeah, I know I’m thinking years ahead in my career path, but why not?
And the clincher? When I did as she suggested, and looked at the Twitter profiles of published authors, they pretty much all use their business names and publicity photos.
So, rip the band-aid off or peel? I decided to go for the former, mostly because I’m ready for some consistency on this, and I suspect so are you. Accordingly, yesterday I went from @Tartitude to @jan_ohara, and I switched avatars, as in the photo embedded above.
Now, I’m about 98% sure the decision on the name change was correct. The avatar…? To be honest, I’m still working on feeling good about that aspect. Preliminary feedback is that most people, while sentimental about the name and orange-goggle girl, see the necessity for change and will adapt. Also, many of my tweeps have visited my biography page and are somewhat familiar with my face.
Should you decide to switch Twitter names yourself, keep your account with its followers and designated e-mail address intact, this is the procedure I followed. Many thanks to Medeia Sharif, who helped me understand the sequence. I do NOT guarantee this will work for you and I do not recommend you attempt this while impaired from cough syrup. *ahem*:
- You will require two active e-mail accounts. If you are going to have to choose between Yahoo and Google, go with the latter. You can forward G-Mail to another e-mail address, if you wish to collect your mail in one location. Not so with Yahoo, unless you pay their yearly $20 fee.
- Pick a time when Twitter isn’t acting wonky, because you’re going to do some fancy finger-work to retain rights to your old Twitter name.
- Using the less important or new e-mail address, ensure the Twitter Name and Username you seek are available. The latter is critical as it will form the url for all the links you have to change. (eg. twitter.com/desiredusername). Write them down exactly as you will use them.
- Open a new Twitter account using a third name altogether. Activate it per instructions. You may quit now, if you wish, but if you proceed, the next two steps must be executed swiftly.
- Go to your old Twitter account and change your Name and Username to those you desire. (Written down in step #3.)
- Immediately go to the new account set up in #4 and change the Username to that of your old Twitter account. (You want to hold rights to this for a while to divert people to stray to your new account.)
- Leave the url of your new Twitter name as the website name in the account which now carries your old Username.
- Leave a tweet in the account which carries your old Username to direct your old tweeps to your new Username.
- Using your new Username, send out tweets periodically to let people know who you are now.
- Don’t forget to change your links on your blog, Facebook profile, website, etc.
- When you’re ready, change your avatar.
So, comments? Questions? Is it too much to change both a name and avatar on Twitter all at once, do you think? (Some folks say to do the name first, then the avatar.) How would you folks feel if I change my avatar here, too?