A few days ago I received an email from someone stating that they were the owner of Ambeth.com, letting me know it was up for auction online if it ‘met my needs.’ So I went to have a look, curious to see what value might be ascribed to a domain name based on my fantasy world and there it was, listed for the sum of $6000, which seemed both bizarre and expensive to me.
Because Ambeth is a made up name. It’s the name I came up with for the land where my characters live and it’s based on the Welsh ‘am byth’, which means forever. I had originally wanted to call my fantasy world The Everlands, but on Googling it discovered the name was already in use as part of a video game. So I came up with The Ambeth Realms instead and then, on the suggestion of a friend, shortened it to Ambeth. I did Google this name as well, just to make sure, and, apart from a singer who happens to have Ambeth as a first name, no-one else seems to be using it for anything significant.
So now I don’t know whether to feel flattered or alarmed or simply brush the whole thing aside as a bit of targeted spam. I mean, this is what this person does for a living, and no doubt they send hundreds of emails out to people like me every week, hoping to get one or two to take them up on their offer, taking a chance on a name they found online. For that’s all I am at the moment – an as yet unpublished writer with a handful of (greatly appreciated) followers on this blog, so the idea that I would have $6K to spend on a domain name is laughable.
This experience did give me a glimpse into what it might be like if my books do take off. A quick search of the auction site revealed that there are many permutations of my domain name available and, if I have a fan base one day, these names will be available for them to use as fan sites linked to my books. I could go mad and buy them all up, but why should I need to?
It also made me realise how possessive I feel of Ambeth and the characters I’ve created. But I guess that’s part of writing – that once your idea is sent out in the world, in some ways it is no longer yours. Of course you retain the rights to your work, to the worlds and characters you’ve created – that’s called copyright. But stories can take on a life of their own as others pass them on, embellishing details and adding their own twists. It was the way of things before the written word, bards and storytellers passing on their tales to others to ensure they weren’t lost as the centuries passed, each recipient adding their own flavour to suit the time in which they lived. Now we have a cyberworld, a virtual library where words and images live on long after we do, fan fiction sites adding to the stories told, whether right or wrong. So I don’t share any of my writing work on here because I don’t want to, not yet. Not until it’s officially out in the world for all to see.
I’m lucky in that I have people I can ask about this stuff. And, after a little online searching and messaging, I sent an email back to the owner of Ambeth.com saying thanks but no thanks, that I was happy with the domain name I currently own. And now I’m blogging about it. Comments and thoughts are much appreciated on this post – have any of you gone through the same thing with your own work?
Update: I have some wonderful friends out there! In the interest of sharing all the steps on this journey, the person in question has held the domain name since 2013. So, a happy coincidence, serendipity that they happened to stumble onto my blog and contact me. It shows we do not create within a vacuum and that the internet is a vast and free world xx