Monday, September 21, 2009

Internet Search Your Author Name

No matter what stage of writing you're at, it's a good idea to periodically do an Internet search of your author name.

Search-Engine-Marketing
Photo by danardvincente

By author name, I mean the name you plan to publish, or do publish, your books under. It could be your real name or it could be a pen name. Either way, enter it in a search engine to see what comes up.

You'll typically find one of the following:

- Nothing relevant to the name
- A slew of references to someone else by that name
- Incorrect information about you
- Sites offering illegal downloads of your book if you're published
- Tons of legitimate references to you, the author

Performing and Internet search of your author name is valuable for several reasons.

1. You'll know exactly what other people, including agents and editors, see when they type in your name. If nothing shows up and you're actively querying, maybe you should consider building a web presence.

2. You'll know if your pen name, which you slaved over but haven't registered the domain name for, is already in use by someone else. You may want to consider using a different name.

3. If you're published, you can issue a cease and desist order to any sites illegally offering downloads your books.

4. If you've been working hard at building a web presence, you'll know your efforts are paying off when page after page of references to you, the author, appear.

Agents and editors do perform Internet searches on authors who submit to them. I hope I don't sound like a broken record, but I am convinced authors shouldn't wait until they get published to start a blog, website, or join online social networks.

Yes, every agent and editor will tell unpublished authors to focus on their craft before worrying about a web presence, but the facts show it takes a long time (a couple of years) for most people to build an average web presence. Authors who are submitting should be simultaneously building their platform.

Get your craft to the highest level, but also work on your web presence so you'll have an audience to promote your book to when you get published.

Every few months, do an Internet search of your author name. You might be surprised what shows up.

Join me on Wednesday when we'll talk about writing organizations and how they can help you.

31 comments:

  1. I've got the benefit of an unusual name, and fortunately my writing blog comes up first. What I dislike is, there's this huge appearance of all the little insignificant things, like blog comments and the like. No, nothing found will be questionable, it's just all the schmick schmack may be annoying to wrangle through.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, Jill. I agree it's very important to keep track of your name/pen name and how it's being used. Setting up a Google alert can get these references sent directly to your mailbox.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great advice, and so true. Building it little by little as we go along goes a long way in increasing that presence.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love googling myself every so often - it's fun to see what pops up.

    And, as you know, I recently learned we should be googling our character names as well. Now that I something I had never considered.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You cover so much of the writing experience. Well done.

    Unfortunately there is someone with my same name that has a rather distasteful occupation. Am kicking around adding my maiden name, like on my website...

    ~ Wendy

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi, Jill!

    I got lucky with an unusual last name, so I'm the only Kristen Torres-Toro who shows up under google. However, last spring some chick in Connecticut found me... her name was Kristen Toro! I was so surprised at seeing my name on someone else (because it isn't as common as "Smith" or "Jones") that I moaned for a week about wanting my identity back, even though she didn't have my full name! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good idea. A little nervous to see what pops up. :O)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good Morning!

    Janna: If anyone has your name, I'd be shocked! Unusual to say the least! And I was surprised to see how many blog comments I leave on other people's blogs show up. Who cares about those? You know?

    Connie: Oh, great advice! This weekend, I was just thinking about setting up a Google Alert for my name. You talked me into it!

    Joanne: Building a web presence is too overwhelming to even consider tackling in a short time. I love the little-by-little approach.

    Tess: I've yet to Google my character names. Thanks for the reminder.

    Wendy: Yikes. Yeah, you might want to add your maiden name. I think I would.

    Kristen: How dare she! :) Another Jill Kemerer found me through Facebook and she's super cool. An artist, no less! Yeah! Sometimes having a double is awesome!

    Diane: Welcome! I know, I was nibbling my fingernails the first time I did it! Don't worry--it's not that bad!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  9. When I search my name, another author comes up. I've recently decided that I probably need to write under a pen name. My dilemna is, though, when I query, I have to do so under my real name. When agents google me, they will still come up with this other author name Susan Mills. Any advice?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Excellent advice! I know there is a photographer with the same name as me. When I search my name, pages and pages of stuff about her come up. So, I decided to use my first two initials and my last name. Luckily, the domain name was not taken and I grabbed it even though I am not ready to use it quite yet.

    ReplyDelete
  11. LazyWriter: Since it sounds as if you're going to be forced to use a pen name, I'd say that When you've decided on one, register the domain name and see if you can transfer your blog's URL to the pen name too. When querying, let agents/editors know you're actively building a presence under your pen name and leave URL's for them in case they feel snoopy! Is this professional advice? No, but it's what I would do. In the meantime, always include your blog's (and website if applicable) URL with your contact info that way they can type it in directly and know you are the author.

    Tamara: I wouldn't worry about a photographer sharing the same name. (Kudos on grabbing the domain name! Yay!) I'd only worry about another author or someone with a questionable occupation sharing your name.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It is probably sad, but I google myself often to see what comes up and where my webpage is ranked. On yahoo! it is the first result, google: it's still down there. I think it is VERY important for people to by their domain and start to build a web presence. It is part of what I'm talking about this week on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wah. :-(

    There's like thousands of other jessica's that come up for me. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey Jill! I'm going to go google my name. See what pops up! Thanks for the suggestion!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Regina: It's not sad--it's necessary. I'm glad you're tackling web presence at your blog this week--I'll be stopping by!

    Jessica: Does your blog URL contain your author name? That will help build author web presence. You have a terrific blog. Include the URL when you query.

    Katie: Have fun!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jill, this is EXCELLENT advice. When I'm done with my jet lag I will definitely be doing this! It might be kind of fun to see how far my name reaches! I would love it if you could do a post on how to do google alerts. I tried to sign up, but I don't think I managed to do it right. Either that or no one has mentioned me since I did this, which is strange because I think my name is in a few of the ACFW blog posts!

    Thanks again for your BEAUTIFUL gift! Your friendship is also a beautiful gift to me and I look forward to another opportunity to get together.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jody: I've yet to do the Google Alert, but Connie's convinced me. When I figure it out, I'll let you know! And you are so welcome! I'm beyond thrilled for you and so glad we are friends!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I goggle myself all the time-- it is really interesting to see where I've landed! I found an article on line that was used from a book I was in too.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Excellent post! Besides starring in a few Pokemon fanfics, all of the 1st page Google pulls up is me. :D And since I've been more active on the Internet, my blogs and other social networking accounts are on the top. :) Very good advice about being There before querying.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Jill -

    I've done this and learned there's another author with my name and in my state. Fortunately, I've snagged the domain name even though I haven't used it yet.

    I'm wondering if I should use a pen name, but then all my hard work on the blog and Facebook will go down the drain. I also have devotionals and articles out there with my name. Any advice?

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Terri: How wonderful! It must be a rush to see your work out there in print. You just put me in such a good mood!

    Danyelle: You do a great job with getting your name out there. It's a nice feeling to see all of your effort has paid off!

    Susan: First of all, I'm sorry! It must be a difficult position to be in. Before you rush into anything, take a careful look at the types of books the other Susan is writing. Could they in any way be confused with yours? I mean, if she writes cookbooks and you write mysteries, there really isn't a problem. Also, does she have a big web presence? Will it interfere with yours? If you have the larger web presence at this point (which I'm guessing you do considering she hasn't purchased the domain name), I wouldn't change a thing. You already use your middle initial, so you stand out. (When in doubt: If you have an agent, I'd ask his/her advice. If not, keep doing what you're doing!)

    I'm interested to know what you decide.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for making me feel better about all the time I spend blogging when I feel I should be writing. I know, we need to balance both in order to be successful.

    ReplyDelete
  23. GutsyWriter: Think of your online time this way--published authors have to promote their books. You're honing the skills necessary to sell your product and you're getting a jump start on balancing time between writing and promotion.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi, Jill:

    Oh, how I would have loved to meet you at the ACFW conference. I thought of you often while there, but didn't have time to get on the blogs to get my Jill fill.

    I hope your week went well, and that we will get to meet in person some day.

    I must go and google my name. I hope what I find isn't too bad!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Eileen: Me too! I'm glad you all had a wonderful time. It's been fun seeing all the pictures on different blogs. Maybe next year? At least you can have your Tim Horton's fill now, right? :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great advice, as usual.

    I do this occasionally. One item that comes up is a really old article I'd forgotten I published, in a home school newsletter!

    Oh be careful little fingers what you type...

    ReplyDelete
  27. Jen: Okay, I'm laughing! Good advice!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Excellent advice, Jill! Sometimes it does get frustrating finding the time to write, let alone marketing myself. But I know that God gives us 24 hrs. in a day for a reason - I can't do it all, and I'm glad He doesn't expect me to!! I've set a goal to post to my blog 3 times/wk. and spend some time daily building my readership. Appreciate your insight! :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Maria: Same here! Your blog is lovely, by the way.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Checking on character names is a great idea. My friend had one name for her character for years and had to change it when she saw it in a book. She chose something similar. It does seem scary to find what the search engines and internet and others know about me. No secrets, just all new endeavers are a bit intimidating.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Jill, excellent advice. I am the author of a non fiction book (published in 2007) and I am half way through the first draft of my first novel. I have also written for many national magazines, and have a good web presence including my name as a domain. To my horror, I googled my name recently and dicovered that another writer published a novel under the same name in 2009. Due to the web presence I have built, and my book, I would be surprised if this author and her agent (and publisher) weren't aware of me. She seems to be doing extremely well with book sales in the UK and America and has a deal for a second novel, which is fantastic for her, but at the same time I am confused about how to proceed. I would be very grateful for any advice!

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you!