Funny Name Syndrome

Funny Name Syndrome is a term coined by British (or Scottish or Scottish-Bengali) mystery writer Abir Mukherjee, known for his Sam Wyndham mysteries.
He thinks he suffers from what is known in the business as ‘Funny Name Syndrome’. You see, it turns out that a significant number of readers (in the UK at least, though he suspects also further afield) are put off by a name they can’t pronounce.

What’s more, a friend of Abir Mukherjee carried out some audience testing on a range of potential pen-names, and found that those which performed worst with his target audience of British and American readers were Asian names.

The Funny Name Syndrome seems a derivative of the practice in the publishing world to 'defeminise' female writers. So, Joanne Rowling became J.K. Rowling, Elaine Thomson became E.S. Thomson, Shona Maclean became S.G. Maclean and Alexandra Benedict was forced to rename herself as A.K. Benedict. This seems to be the result of the false dichotomy that only male authors can attract a large following.

But having a name that is unfamiliar to others might have a positive side, because people tend to remember unusual names, like Honeysuckle Weeks or Rosamund Pike, better than run-of-the-mill names.
So, Abir Mukherjee might even be blessed to suffer from an unusual condition like Funny Name Syndrome.

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