What is an ISBN and why do you need one?


My copy edit should be back soon, but in the meantime, there’s plenty of getting ready to publish stuff I can be getting on with. Now that the cover has been decided, let’s talk numbers. If you’re publishing your book as an indie author, there are two that you’ll need:

  • An ISBN
  • A CiP

The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a standard 13 digit number that uniquely identifies books published internationally. It will usually appear on your copyright page at the front of the book.

Print books must have an ISBN, but there’s a reasonable amount of confusion after that- with a lot of contradictory advice online. Essentially, if you intend to sell your book it’s probably a good idea to get one. And when I say get one, you’ll need one for each format the book is being produced in:

  • Mobi for Kindle
  • Epub for Kobo and ibooks
  • Paperback (includes print on demand)
  • Hardback (if you’re going there)
  • Etc

ISBNs can be purchased singly, in blocks of 10 or in blocks of 100. I buy mine in blocks of 10 from Thorpe-Bowker. One ISBN will cost you $44, and 10 will cost you $88. Yep, you do the maths on that. If you’re only intending on publishing one book and listing it only on Amazon, you might purchase just the single ISBN, otherwise, you’re better off having them there to allocate when you’re ready. Speaking of which, if you buy a block you can allocate them at any time.

For each title I allocate an ISBN for:

  • Mobi for Kindle
  • Epub for Kobo and ibooks
  • Paperback (includes print on demand) …even though I haven’t yet published any of my books in paperback.

If you intend selling your book physically in bookstores, you’ll also need to buy a barcode– retailers need them for inventory management. Thorpe-Bowker sell these as well. Again, there’s contradictory information out there re when you need a barcode. On the off-chance that a major seller happens to read my fabulous offering and orders a trunkful for sale, I’ve purchased a barcode for Wish You Were Here that I’ll have Jacinda pop into the back cover for me.

Barcodes can be purchased in packs starting from $45 per barcode (it gets cheaper the more you buy) and are also available in ISBN/barcode combo packs. There are free barcode generator tools out there as well- google it- but I find it easier to manage all my numbers in one place.

Anyways, back to the ISBN…Once it’s been allocated, it can’t be re-used. This means that any new edition of the book will also need a new ISBN. Reprints or re-issue for things like typos or new covers aren’t generally considered as new editions- it’s more about changes to the text or material that are considered substantial enough to make it a new “book.”

Oh, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that you don’t double up on your allocations.

As for actually getting and allocating ISBNs? The process is super easy and takes about 20 minutes. I tend to complete this task once I have my cover nailed.

Check out Thorpe-Bowker for the FAQs.

Cataloguing in Publication (CIP)

For Australian publishers (including Indies), CiP is provides a catalogue record for publications before they are published. It’s operated by the National Library of Australia and is free. The CiP number should appear on your copyright page.

What you need to know about a CiP reference is that you don’t have to have one- or rather, there is no legal requirement to have one. It is, however, used by libraries and book-sellers to place orders and search for books. As such, it’s a nice to have. And, did I mention that it’s free?

Again, the actual process is quite simple, but you will need to have your ISBNs allocated- you need these in your application.

I apply for the CiP as soon as I have my ISBNs. It can take up to 10 days to process and you’ll need to have them before you have your files converted for publication.

What’s next? Now I need to hunker down and write my back cover blurb- possibly the hardest part of the entire process…yes, really.


Waiting for the muse- and why I don’t…

Beautiful Girl Wearing Long Chiffon Dress. Fantasy Scene

It’s 5am and I’m propped up in the spare bed tapping this out while the rest of my family sleeps. My alarm went off at 4.30. I’ll get up in another 30 minutes and be on my way to work by 6.30am. My muse hasn’t woken up yet. I think that she could be a tad hungover.

As creatives we like to think that we can spend our days just, well, creating…or creating when the inspiration strikes, when the muse arrives. I’ve spent many a pleasant hour (when I should be writing) imagining what my muse- if she ever showed up- would actually look like.

The only experience I have of muses is Kira- Olivia Newton John’s character in Xanadu. Anyone else remember that? Just me? Really? I can still see her coming to life and bursting out of the mural with her sisters…wearing floaty chiffon, leg warmers, and roller skates.

How would mine dress? Would she be a he? What would she say? Would she sit beside me at the desk making encouraging comments:

‘Man, that sentence is good.’

‘Oh my God! That scene is so intense.’

‘I think we need to fix this scene by getting Richie to…’

Would she instead pat my head and say, ‘it’s ok, Jo. Go back to sleep- I’ll come back another day.’

The thing is, the things are:

  • Kira was not the name of any of the muses- although Calliope was. How do I know that? She’s a character in the novel I’m drafting now. I do my research…
  • The muses weren’t in a habit of breaking out of murals and they didn’t wear leg warmers and roller-skates,
  • If you wait for one to turn up, you’ll be waiting a very long time indeed and will get very little done.

When you work full-time as I do- as most of us who are aspiring or emerging authors do- you grab your time when you can: a half hour here, fifteen minutes there.

My writing time each day is this very precious hour two mornings a week when I don’t go to the gym, an hour or so each night after I go to bed and whatever time I can squeeze in on weekends. I wrote a good chunk of Wish You Were Here sitting in the hairdresser’s chair. I have to make the most of every single one of those moments- my muse rarely turns up.

Also precious is the 15-20 minutes each morning between getting off the bus and meeting my BMF for coffee and work. I use that time to:

  • Brain dump anything in my head that needs to be out of my head in order to clear it for story work
  • Character notes or snippets that have occurred to me on the bus
  • Sometimes I write entire scenes in the journal- usually because they’ll have come to me on the bus and will be gone by the time I get to my keyboard later that night

It’s a little like morning pages, I suppose, but helps me make the most of the time I have when I do get to the keyboard. I’ve tried writing on the bus, but the conditions are cramped and my writing illegible.

My muse isn’t around for that either- in fact, when you think about it, she isn’t around for very much at all! Somehow though, the words happen without her.

What about you? Do you have a muse? Does she turn up on time, or hit snooze on her alarm?

Wish You Were Here: Unveiling the Cover


It’s here: the cover for Wish You Were here.

I love it- and when you get to know Max better, and get to know Brookford better, I hope that you’ll love it too…

Jacinda May has done a fabulous job- both in the design and in dealing with my requests for revisions: picture changes here, font changes there.

The challenge of getting the emotional feel of an entire book into a cover design is a tough one. Although there are some emotional scenes in her story, Max is, overall, an optimistic person- and I wanted that to come through in the cover. Likewise, although there is physical movement, Brookford and the countryside is part of Max. I wanted that to come through too. I think it does.

Now I have my cover I can pop it on Amazon for pre-sale, but there’s still plenty to do before publishing date. I should get my copy edit back soon, then it’s proofreading, file conversion and number allocation (ISBN and CiP- I’ll tell you about them later) to go.

The best ever chocolate bread and butter pudding…

Sweet Dark Chocolate Sauce in a Bowl
Photo courtesy of deposit photos…

Max (Maxine) Henderson is the protagonist in my upcoming novel Wish You Were Here. She writes a monthly column for Blossom and Buds- a garden centre in Brookford- about what’s in season and what you can do with it.

I invited Max along today to share with us her chocolate bread and butter pudding- actually, it’s the one that her mother makes whenever she needs to break some bad news, help Max feel better about something, or stimulate conversation. Max says it’s a little like a chocolate-y truth serum. Sadly, my food styling and photography isn’t a patch on hers, but  bad photos aside, this is seriously one very good chocolate bread and butter pudding.

Over to you, Max…

As we know only too well, we can still get the occasional cold spell at this time of the year. To cover you for those inevitable early spring grey days- or just if you need some deep comfort, I’ve managed to convince my mother to part with her chocolate bread and butter pudding recipe. If possible, it’s best to start this one the day before you intend to look it, but let’s be honest- when these moments hit, they don’t tend to come with prior notice. You’ll need some bread- about half a loaf. White bread is the most obvious choice, but torn up croissants or brioche would work well too. Mum does hers with fruit bread to give the end result a sort of rum and raisin taste. Cut it in the usual way that you would for an ordinary bread and butter pudding- halves or quarters- and put aside.

For the chocolate, you’ll need most of a 200g block of dark chocolate- allowing a row for taste testing, of course. Chop it roughly and place it into a bowl with a 300ml carton of thickened or double cream, a good slosh (or three) of rum, 75g butter and around ½ cup caster sugar. If you want, you could even add a pinch of orange zest or a shake of cinnamon to jazz it up some more. Melt it all over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir it until it’s silky smooth. Now it’s time for the eggs- you’ll need three. Whisk them in a separate bowl and then pour the chocolate over the eggs, whisking as you go.

Pour a thin layer of the chocolate over your pre-greased tin and layer the bread evenly over this. Now add more chocolate, and another layer of bread, plus the last of the chocolate. Press the bread down until it’s all covered with chocolate. Don’t worry too much if some of the bread pokes up- it adds an extra texture once it’s been cooked.

Now, pop some cling-film over it and place it into the fridge for as many hours as you can. This is the part that you’re supposed to do the day before.


Before you wash the bowl, sneak a taste. Isn’t that the best chocolate sauce you ever tasted in your life? It’s always reminded me of the rum balls Mum makes at Christmas.

When you are ready to cook it, do so in a moderate oven for 30-35mins. All it needs now is a few minutes to sit, and some pouring or ice cream…or custard…for the top.

You’re welcome.

Wish You Were Here will be available for pre-orders from September 30 on Amazon and itunes.


Why I pay for stock photos…

Depositphotos_70713707_original copy
The image I purchased for Big Girls Don’t Cry

You know how I told you the other day about how I’m in the middle of the cover design process? It occurred to me that there was one aspect I didn’t talk too much about: images- not just what to use, but whether they can be used.

I’m a creative, and don’t give my work away for free- although reserve the right to do so if I choose. That’s why I pay for every photo that I use on my blogs- unless it’s a photo that I’ve taken myself (most on and anyways are my own images).

There are plenty of stock photo companies out there with image packages available. I’ve purchased image packs from Shutterstock, istock and Dreamstime in the past, but now mostly use Deposit Photos.

I sign up to appsumo and wait for their annual offer on deposit photos image packs. Last time I bought three packs of 100 images for around $100 in total. It’s worth signing up and keeping an eye out for the specials. There’s no timeframe within which you need to download the images, and they look better than the photos I take.

The thing is, most images you purchase will be licensed for particular purposes. Deposit Photos do a great job of showing what’s allowed under a standard license and what you must buy an extended license for. In short, if you intend you use the image to make money, you probably should be buying the extended license- although I’m not a lawyer, so please do your own research and seek your own advice.

When it comes to book covers, it’s all a tad confusing. One line states that a standard license is sufficient for a book cover, but further down it also states that an extended license is required for ebooks that are offered for resale or distribution.

As I said before, I’m not a lawyer (so naturally nothing in this post is intended to be used as legal advice), so when it comes to images I intend using on my covers, I play it safe and but the extended license. It costs more (I paid $89 for the extended license for the image I used on Big Girls Don’t Cry, and prices do vary) but I know I have the rights to use it- and that peace of mind is worth the extra expense. Besides, I know that I’m helping another creative pay their bills- and as creatives, that’s what we all aspire to.

How to choose a cover design…

Path through bluebell woods in early morning sunrise

Wish You Were Here is now safely off being copy edited- which means I need to think about all the other millions of tasks that need to be completed in order to get it onto the virtual bookshelves at the end of October. Highest on that list is the cover.

I’ve developed a good relationship with the freelance designer I used for Baby, It’s You and Big Girls Don’t Cry, but Wish You Were Here is different- we’re going almost immediately to print on demand with this one- as well as all digital platforms- so there are different specifications required for the cover. For starters, she’ll need to design a back cover, and a spine, as well as a front cover that will look great as a thumbnail. Also, the print version of the cover won’t be able to be nailed down until the file is converted and we know how many pages there will be. Yep, I agree- it all sounds a tad too hard.Big Girls Don't Cry

So, what do I tell my designer? As much as I can. The more information she knows about the book, the genre, the location, the themes, the characters, the better. The basic specs are relatively easy:

  • Title: Wish You Were Here
  • Author: Joanne Tracey
  • Tagline: yet to be determined
  • Notes on text: Please use same fonts as on Big Girls, but switch the size so my name is larger than the title this time.
  • Front cover to be 2500 pixels tall, 1563 pixels wide and no more than 2MB.

As for the rest, I’m after a cover that’s in a similar style and theme to Big Girls Don’t Cry. I want it to have the same sense of place. Where I used one of my own photos in the cover for Big Girls (a Balinese rice field), I can’t for Wish You Were Here. The book is largely set in a fictional village named Brookford in The Cotswolds.

Early morning view looking across to Chalford

Brookford could be an amalgam of any of the villages we visited when we were over there last year, but it’s somewhere near Cirencester and Stroud, close to Sapperton and Frampton Mansell.


I tried to take some photos of the landscape in and around the farmhouse we stayed out just outside of Chalford- and some of the cottages- but the light was so dull and flat, that none of my pictures are usable as high res images. I wanted that soft light that warms the yellow of the Cotswold stone- on both the houses and the stone walls.  I need the light to show promise and the potential of a happy ending.

As a result, I suspect I’ll need to purchase extended licence stock photos instead. But again, of what? There’s a pivotal and emotional scene set in a bluebell wood that I’d like to capture the moment and mood of…

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

The book is also partly set in Queenstown- a place where I have plenty of great landscape shots- all in good light- yet, that’s only part of the story and this is contemporary women’s fiction- not travel.

Like I did last time , I went searching for covers- what else is out there? What’s been winning the contests? What’s coming up on my Amazon searches? What can I pin to my pinterest covers board? (If you want to know how else I use pinterest in my writing, check out this post).

I googled the top contemporary romance books on Amazon and saw absolutely nothing that I ended up pinning. I checked out last year’s winners  of the Romance Australia cover contests and pinned a couple. Tears of the Cheetah won best romantic suspense cover. It’s a lovely cover, but it tells me nothing about the book or genre other than where it’s set. It could be a travel book. Luna Tango won the contemporary category. I love everything about that cover. This year’s winners are here.



Next up was best-selling Aussie contemporary writers. I liked Rachel John’s covers, but again, didn’t get that sense of place I was after. The ones who do that best are the rural romance girls. The majority of covers I pinned were in that genre.

One thing, though, they all had in common was a picture of a person- or persons. I get that this immediately tells the reader that there are romantic elements within, but it causes me even more indecision.

In a not very scientific poll, I asked the question of Facebook and Twitter friends: do you like people on the front of your books? Generally the answer was no, yet there is virtually nothing on the romance shelves that doesn’t have a picture of either the gorgeous guy, the thoughtful heroine, or the happy couple. People say it turns them off, yet this is what readers seem to be buying.

Escape Publishing, in particular, have a thing about showing full faces (see Evan and Darcy on the pinboard), Momentum (for Pan Macmillan) do the same (see The Peppercorn Project on the pinboard). It obviously works for them, but do I want to put a pre-conceived picture of Max and Richie into my reader’s minds? I’m not sure about that.

The other questions Jacinda usually asks  in order to get a feel for the story and the design are:

  • What are some of the most powerful/ important scenes/ ideas of the book?
  • What feeling are you trying to get across in the book? (Name 3 emotions you would describe your book as)
  • Is there an item or concept that is thematic in the piece?
  • What’s your target market?

As for the answers to these? Well, that would be too much of a spoiler alert!

Sunrise near Frampton Mansell
Sunrise near Frampton Mansell

What To Expect From A Copy Edit…

closeup of a pencil eraser correcting an error

Wish You Were Here is about as done in the structural editing stakes as it can be. I’m doing a final pass through for the big stuff and then it’s off for copy edit. I’m also sending it off to my beta (or first) readers at this time too.

I remember when I first got the copy edit back for Baby, It’s You. It was terrifying- this marked-up document full of deletions and comments. The page was full of them. Every page was full of them. I started to sweat. Seriously.

As I plodded through the first chapter though, it got easier. Most were minor grammar and punctuation changes- commas instead of semi colons, quotation marks the wrong way round (something scrivener tends to do for conversations where the sentence starts with S) that I hadn’t picked up on. Others were style changes to keep things consistent. Some were comments with suggestions to tighten the words.

It’s a detail and consistency thing- and I’m the first to confess that I’m crap at both detail and consistency.

When it came time for Big Girls Don’t Cry to come under the attention of the track change equivalent of the red pencil, I had a better idea of what to expect.

So, what exactly is a copy edit? The difference between them is a trees and forest thing. In a structural edit, the forest is of interest; in a copy edit, it’s the trees.  A structural edit looks at the big picture: plot and flow and characterisation etc. A copy edit, however, is about detail, style and consistency.

In a copy edit, the editor will go word-by-word, line-by-line, page-by-page through the manuscript,  looking critically for errors, issues, typos, clarity, repetition, cheesiness etc. As an example, at one point in Big Girls my leading lady, Abby, says something like ‘I had plenty of leave up my sleeve.’ Really Jo? Really? I’d completely missed it.

Then there’s the pacing and clarity thing- a tiny rearrangement of words can sometimes make a whole sentence read so much better. Occasionally, Nicola will suggest a change: ‘re-worded, edit ok?’ – at other times she’d leave a comment: ‘I think this sentence needs work.’ It’s about placing the words in the location and order where they will be of the most service.

Putting all of this together, the process of copy editing is time consuming- and that’s why it’s also the most expensive part of the self-publishing process. If you’re even half as detail-challenged as I am, it’s also a step that you can’t afford to miss- especially if you’re an indie author.

As an aside, I was reading a book the other day- traditionally published, where I counted no few than around six errors- jarring errors. Ironically, one was in a chapter about editing. The book was beyond fabulous, and I forgive easily, but given the money that traditional publishers have for editing and proofreading, it’s also not a good look.*

I use the same editor- Nicola from ebookedit– for the copy process as well as structural editing- but you don’t have to. I do- partly because I’m lazy and don’t have the time to go out and look for another editor and go through the whole getting to know you and your work business. Mostly though, it’s because she “gets” what I’m trying to do, the story I’m telling, and she understands my voice- and that is invaluable.

Because most editors charge by the hour, you can make it cheaper by ensuring that your work is as clean as it possibly can be before it goes out. Ebookedit have some suggestions to help you through this. The link is here.

If you’re working with someone for the first time, most editors will ask you for a sample of your writing so that they can quote you an approximate figure. Some will set a maximum price, some will not. Before signing the contract with your editor, make sure that you know (and have budgeted) for the maximum charge.

Check also whether your editor is doing one pass or two of the document- it does make a difference to the cost. If your manuscript is non-fiction, there could be a lot of fact checking required- in addition to the grammar, spelling, style etc. A second pass will pick up the details missed on the first round.

When she was working on Baby, It’s You, before proceeding too far down the track, Nicola sent me a sample chapter she’d edited- just to ensure that I was ok with the style and method she was using. I was. This step wasn’t necessary for Big Girls Don’t Cry.

A lot of authors will say that the best way to copy edit is by printing out the manuscript and going through it manually. This doesn’t work so well for me- I like to work straight from a document with all the changes marked up. I can then deal with each change in order. The whole idea of a red pencil and a manuscript is evocative, but not practical for me. You could be different. My point? Check how your edit will be done, and the method by which it will be returned.

What’s next?

While Wish You Were Here is off being copy edited, I’ll work on the cover. I have some ideas to send the designer, but more on that next time.

*If this post contains typos or grammatical errors, please see this as a reason why I invest in a good editor!


Happy Endings Begin Here…

Heart drawing on dry sand

Well, hello there…

I’m Joanne Tracey, but you can call me Jo.

Some of you might already know me- all my writing posts used to be over at and anyways…with my travel posts and my foodie posts and my walking and rambling and tramping posts. The thing is, that site had become a bit of a catch-all and was seriously disjointed.

So I’ve moved- just the posts that have anything to do with books, writing, and indie publishing. If that’s what you’re here for, welcome aboard- it’s lovely to see you…virtually speaking.

Of course, there’s still plenty of related writing content over at and anyways, so feel free to disappear from time to time. Also, don’t be surprised if you see some of it turn up here as well- some of it already has!

Other than that, feel free to make yourself at home here. The kettle’s on and I’ll open up the special biscuits…



What to expect from a structural edit…

What to expect from a structural edit

So I’ve almost completed the structural edit for Wish You Were Here. There’s work to be done- of course there is, but on the whole, I’m pretty happy. Thankfully Nicola, my editor, likes the story and the characters- so that’s a great big sigh of relief from me.

The biggest piece of rewriting this time around has been in the second half of the book- mainly to do with the way in which I bring my characters together. Nicola has come up with some ideas to strengthen this and make it more believable.

Naturally there’s more throughout the manuscript as well, but none of it rankled with me and all of Nicola’s suggestions have made perfect sense. The story will absolutely be in better shape once I’m finished.

The hardest part of the structural edit process is the first time you get your edit back. The book you’ve laboured over has issues that need to be corrected. What’s worse, someone is telling you about that. It’s the literary equivalent of asking ‘Does my bum look fat in these jeans?’ and receiving an honest answer: ‘Actually, yes, it does. And your tummy is hanging over the top; the pockets in the back are doing you no favours; the colour is a tad 2015 and you might want to reconsider the waist height at your age.’

Here’s the deal:  you’re paying your editor to tell you what isn’t working with your book. 

What’s a structural edit, I hear you ask? Rather than looking at grammatical details, typos and spelling issues, a structural edit does a deep dive into:

  • Pacing
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Characterisation
  • Motivations
  • Voice
  • Perspective/ Point of View
  • Consistency
  • Readability

A good editor should be able to provide suggestions that shape and organise the manuscript- with a view to improving the flow of words, and the overall telling of the story. A good editor should be able to do all of this while keeping in mind my- the writer’s- intention.

What you should get back from a structural edit is:

  • A report giving you an overall idea of the shape that the manuscript is in, the parts that the editor thinks works…overall…and the areas that don’t.
  • A marked up copy of your manuscript with constructive comments and suggested alternatives or rewrites.
    Some editors will split this into two parts, and quote for each separately. In these cases, you’ll get a report or assessment done on your manuscript, an opportunity to put the suggestions into practice, and then the structural edit will be an additional step. This can be good if you want to prepare a manuscript for submission, have no idea which direction the story is heading in, or simply want to know what track you’re on.

Generally speaking, your structural report should help you look under the covers of your manuscript- see the wood amongst the trees…so to speak. It may contain suggestions regarding moving chapters, changing tense or perspective and possibly sending your characters in a different direction than you had planned for them. Some suggestions you’ll agree with, some you’ll dig your heels in about.

The end point to all of this is to make your story the best that it can possibly be.

Your editor will usually quote you an approximate price based on word count and anticipated hours. The more work your manuscript needs, the longer your structural report and the higher the price…it’s that simple.  Therefore it makes good economic sense to have your work as tight as you know how to make it before sending it through.

What’s next?

Copy edit- when those pesky grammatical and spelling issues are highlighted and corrected. My editor is busy, so to make sure I work to deadline, I booked that in when I got the structural edit back.

In between, I need a cover…and to confirm my publication date.

I’ll keep you posted on that.

I use Nicola O’Shea from Ebookedit for all my editing.

Continue reading “What to expect from a structural edit…”

6 Places To Find Names For Your Characters…

whats your name

Rhonda and Wanda came along with us on our recent road trip. Rhonda was the Google maps lady on my phone, and Wanda was on Miss T’s phone for those occasions when I had no cell reception. After all, I couldn’t continue to swear at the voice with no name. It didn’t sound right:

‘You want me to turn where?’


‘For f$#%s sake Google Map Lady!’

See what I mean?

It was much more civilised to say things like:

‘How would I know which way to go? Let me ask Rhonda!’ or

‘Rhonda says we have to take the second exit- not the third,’ or

‘For f#$%s sake, Rhonda!’

The process of naming the Google Map Lady filled in some otherwise uneventful motorway time. Each name we came up with had an association with someone else- and generally someone we liked. I couldn’t yell and curse at someone I liked. None of us had a friend called Rhonda…or Wanda…

I’m having a similar yet different problem at present. I’m trying to name a character who I don’t like. In fact, if I knew this person in real life, I’m sure that she’d be on my list- and trust me, that’s not somewhere that you’d want to be.

It’s like that old saying:

Don’t upset the writer…

You could end up in a book…


But let’s not go there in case I incriminate myself, or slip into revenge fantasy mode.

Sometimes I think I spend longer on the names of the characters I don’t like than the names of the characters I do like. Why? Partly in case someone I do like is offended, but mostly in case someone on my list imagines that I’ve based the person on them. And, in case you’re wondering: so far I’ve resisted the temptation- although I have come close….and no, I’m not telling…

So, how do I go about naming a character? Here are my favourite places to find names:

  1. Those google searches where you type in things like “most popular girls names in New Zealand in 1989,” or “most popular boys names in Australia in 1978.” Believe it or not, there’s a world of difference between popular names in 1989 in Australia, England, New Zealand and the USA. Just saying.
  2. It’s important to keep the cultural background or class and upbringing of your character in mind. If I’m after someone a little more upper middle than middle class, I might google the names of school captains of particular elitist establishments. Another favourite source is searching player names from sporting teams. For my current male protagonist, I googled All Blacks teams- yes, he’s a Kiwi, and no, he’s not named after Dan Carter…although I was tempted. I like to think he could look a little like Dan Carter…cue swoon now.
  3. I make a note of names I like of people who are a similar age to my characters in reality shows- my viewing repertoire is limited to cooking and renovation shows…but you get the idea.
  4. The credits of TV shows.
  5. Characters in TV shows.
  6. Cyclone names. Yes, really. There’s a Wikipedia site- you can google it. How do I know? I went through a stage where my ideal job was to be the person who gets to name the cyclones.
    For any writers out there- where do your characters names come from? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Continue reading “6 Places To Find Names For Your Characters…”