Friday, August 30, 2013

What's in a Name?

Names are important. We spend a lot of time and energy naming our pets, our children, our books, even our properties. So when I first thought of creating a little press to publish my own books, I wanted a clever brand that would really communicate what my writing was about. I started using Hotbutton Press in emails and on a blog ten years ago. Now I'm ready to take that a step further with a website, business registration, tax forms, etc. Easy peasy, right?


I'm a little hot under the collar. Someone else beat me to it and there is another Hotbutton Press already.


So now I have to come up with Plan B.

What about Red Button Press? Red is my favorite color. A search brings up all kinds of Do Not Press the Red Button links. Too weird to consider.


How about Red Queen Press since I'm affectionately dubbed the queen around here? Already taken again.

Red House Press? Gone too.

I just want Hotbutton Press! Hubbo suggests it's just a darling and I should get over it. Maybe he's right.

But that still leaves me without a name I can personally relate to - something that properly reflects not only the books I'd like to self-publish, but all the non-fiction how-to and articles that I really love to write, and even some writing contests to engage other writers.

Who knew something this basic would end up being such a challenge?

I think it's important to get it right because branding is such a big deal in marketing today. It's too easy to confuse the public if you don't communicate clearly what you're about. I mean, it's not just a name - it's how the world will recognize you in real life and on all the social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

How would you approach this? Have you created your own self-publishing entity? How did you choose the name? Did you search online to make sure the name wasn't taken already? Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over? Please do leave a comment!


  1. I know the feeling. I recently began a series of animal rescue stories to help fund the various animal rescue organisations that saved these wonderful creatures. I have my own author name/site etc so I did not want to mix up my genres. I did numerous online searches. Every Single Decent name was taken. I could not believe it. Or else their names were too close to some of my suggestions. Even the silly 'last resort' ideas I had. However, I eventually came up with something absolutely perfect so persevere!

    1. Fiona—and you're not going to tell us???

  2. Well, Hot Button Press looks to have been inactive since around March 2012 - that's the last date for any entries. Also, if you use HotButton (one word) Press instead, you should remain unique.

  3. Checking Google and the domain registrars has become the first step before using any business name. Grabbing the domain is also part of the game, as it costs so little to hold one. I have made it a habit to do a search even for the made-up names I use in fiction. Why get sued when you can avoid it? (I even have created email accounts for some fictional characters!)

    Stuart's suggestion might not work because Hot Button Press has the domain; is still available, though, so if you go that way, grab it quick.

    There is always a risk with names that are too close; potential customers and seekers can end up in the wrong place and frustrated. The secret is to become so successful that your stuff sorts higher on Google. :-)

  4. I wish I had been a little more clever with my business name. I stared at the blank that said "business name" and had nothing. So I just went with Hurwitz Literary LLC. My advice would be: don't use your name! As you so rightly advise, do your research, not only to see if the business name is available through your licensing agency, but to see if the domain name is available on the web and/or the email address.

  5. I agree, Diana. A name that someone could buy without personal identity to a previous owner would make much more sense. I did check the domain names, Larry... but even just would be too close to another press of the same name. It just sets the stage for too much cross-over and potential confusion. And Fiona, isn't it true how ridiculous the brainstorming becomes? Queen evolved into Empress which was taken and from there I landed on Impress - because of the play on words and I'm rather an IMP. About then, it started feeling too twee. I will persevere though. But Perseverance Press and Persevero Press are already taken too. :D

  6. This is an interesting consequence of the proliferation of self-publishers. Frustrating, I'm sure!

  7. You say that like it's a bad thing, Kathryn. It's not much different no good baby names because there are so many people on the planet. LOL. I suppose that's why parents started making up unique names. There's a thought - let's get creative and make up a name!

  8. How frustrating to have spent so long trying to establish a name only to find out it is not going to work after all. All that is involved in branding and establishing a platform is most challenging to me. Things happen so swiftly that I am left whirling in the breeze. LOL

  9. Timing is everything, Maryann. Not the first time I've sat on an idea so long, someone else beat me to the final product.

  10. Speaking of naming things, did you know Anne Lamott named her thighs? :D

    1. I did not know that about Anne. I think I shall refrain from naming body parts. LOL

  11. Well, that deserves a drink. What's your favorite? I don't suppose Gin & Tonic Press would be a good name if I want to be taken seriously. Snort.

  12. How about:
    Book Ends Press
    Falling Leaves Press
    Biblion Press
    Laughing Scribes Press
    Sensible Scribes Press
    Etchings Press

  13. Too bad about Hotbutton Press. It's a memorable name, which is a good thing. So, I'm assuming, the search continues. Frustrating? Yes. Fun? Sometimes maybe, then again...

    I've used three publishing company names over the years: Edit et Cetera, Stepping Stones Press, and Pen and Sword Publishers Ltd. Currently, I also use to market editing services. The publishing companies I do not advertise because I work alone much of the time, and I don't want to be overwhelmed—which happened with just word-of-mouth among authors several years ago.

    On the other hand, my site has been up a while, and it continues to bring in inquiries and work. Now, after long overdue fun in the sun, surf, and sand for a month, I will be completing my LindasBookNook site and promoting it. My little publishing company, however, shall remain in the background.

    Let us know what name you decide on. :-)

  14. Is Hotbutton Books taken?Hotbutton Picks? Hotbutton Exclusives?
    If so, try other variations with Hotbutton before or after. I Googled lots of names before picking Choice One Publishing Co. It fit me since I'm self publishing and only my own books. First Choice was my first thought, but that was taken.
    Morgan Mandel

  15. Morgan, I decided Hot Button in any configuration had too many other connotations. Red Hot was another consideration and for sure I didn't want to go there! LOL. I have a couple of other ideas, but I'm not sure which will be better in the long run. Must moodle a bit more. But not so long someone else grabs these ideas too!

  16. I thought about creating my own imprint, but after weighing pros and cons, I decided to stick with my own name and just publish as 'me.' Factors that went into the decision:
    I sell very few print books.

    Nobody I know ever goes into a bookstore and asks the clerk for the new Random House or Simon & Schuster book. They're going to ask for the mystery section, or for books by a specific author.

    For those who DO look at the publisher, if they're really serious about knowing who published the book, they'll find out soon enough that it's a 'private' imprint and they'll assume it's a self-published author anyway.

    I may not be 'right' but at least I'm spared a lot of headaches.

  17. My last naming endeavor was my book editing service. I decided on "Pure Text," and it feels like an act from the universe that I was able to settle on something and then feel brave enough to share it with the world--over and over again, haha.

    Someone suggested I register the name, but I argued that no one is likely to take it. Your story about how Hotbutton Press is gone, though, does make me worry a bit... ;)

  18. I am not at the point where I need a create my own self-publishing entity but I have decided on a name already. It sort of just came to me and hasn't yet been stolen by anyone else.

    Now, when it comes to naming my stories I have a much harder time. Sometimes, I change he name three or four times. I have decided to come up with a AlphaNumeric system until I am completely finished and have no choice but to decide on a title.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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