Dear Miss Snark,
I have a novel in revision that I hope will be ready for querying in about a year. I've also written some short stories, which I plan to start submitting to markets. My hope is that when I'm ready to query agents about the novel, I'll have some publication credits to include in the query letter. I also want to establish a website.
My problem is my awkward, difficult-to-spell last name. If I find an agent, I imagine he or she can advise me on whether I should write under a different name that's easier for readers to remember and spell. But what about in the meantime? I'm concerned that if I publish short stories under my real name, and start a website under my real name, any visibility I'll have built up before I start querying will be lost if the novel is published under a different name. I wonder if it might make more sense to send out the short stories under my maiden name. It's an odd name, but since it's only 4 letters long, it's easier to remember and spell. Am I a nitwit for thinking about such things at this stage?
Well it didn't hurt: Mary Kay Zuravleff (I know and love her work, and I still had to look up the correct spelling of her name)
or Chuck Palahniuk
or Elfried Jelinek
or Michael Ondaatje (which I got from Kristin Nelson's blog post here, and she's of another mind on this subject)
If you've got a name thats hard to say, or easily misspelled one of the first things you want to do is put in keywords for your site that are the WRONG things people will type in trying to find you.
So if you are Killer Yapp, you also want "Killer Yap" as a keyword cause a lot of people spell it that way. Same with "Ms Snark" (sound of cocking clue gun as optional audio would be good here too).
People come in every variety of cluelessness about author names and titles. An easy to say or spell name is no guarantee they won't get it wrong.