Thursday, June 1, 2017

Who steals my purse steals trash; who has my name and makes me invisible on Google makes me poor indeed

I've gone by Jake my whole life, pretty much, other than being "Weber" on sports teams and in the Marine Corps. My parents named me Jacob with the intention of using the nickname. Since that's what they called me and I lacked the energy to get new stuff with my name on it, I just kept using it. Growing up, I was the only Jake I knew. People criticized my mom for giving me a name that reminded them of old Jewish men. But about 20 years ago, Jacob became the most popular new name for boys and stayed that way until recently. I can't be anywhere with a sizable group of kids around and not hear my name called over and over. They took what used to belong just to me.

I get a similar feeling when I try to find myself on the Internet. Every time I've ever tried to Google myself since my first story came out a few years ago to see if I even exist, the results are so overrun by character actor Jake Weber that I can't even get to the end of him. Since he's older than me, I guess I can't really blame him for stealing my name, but it really is annoying to be completely eclipsed by someone else with your same name when you're trying to establish yourself. Maybe if my mom had just named me Assface Weber, I'd stand out. (Pronounced Ass-Fa-che; it's Italian.)

I had to tell the publisher the other day what name to use to draw my ISBN for the book. I decided to use Jacob, even though nobody has ever called me that except my grandmother. Even that, though, seems fraught with other choices. If you Google "Jacob Weber" right now, one of the first images you get is an imposing gentleman with a face tat that kind of makes him look like a pro wrestler. How can I compete with that kind of panache?

So I'm using Jacob R. Weber. I've now resolved two naming issues for the book, the title and my own name. I hadn't really thought those two things would be issues requiring brain cells to run when I used to dream of getting a book out. Since these little issues mean I AM, in fact, getting a book published, they're issues I'm happy to have. They're not even problems, and I'm not complaining about them. But everyone who ever published a book always warned me that when you do get a book out, it isn't like some publishing fairy comes along and decides all the little things for you. You've got to make a lot of decisions yourself, and you're going to be winging it sometimes.

From here, now that I just finished my final editing (more on that later), I'm supposed to start sending out the book to folks for reviews and doing other publicity things. None of that comes naturally to me. I'd probably blow it off altogether and live with terrible book sales (terrible, in this case, meaning eleven, whereas the upper limit I can realistically hope for if all goes well is like 500) if it weren't that I feel a responsibility to the small, co-op publisher to try to sell some books for them. When I look at the things they want me to do (like talk to people), I feel like my best bet is to get a second job and use the money to buy copies of my own book.

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