books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Why You Should Google Yourself: It's Not Vain—It's Good Business


First: Many thanks to Writers Digest editor Robert Lee Brewer, who put this blog in his list of "Blogs that Rock" in his BEST BLOGS FOR WRITERS TO READ IN 2013 this week.

Yes, you should do frequent Internet searches of your own name. 

I have to laugh when I see writers apologizing on their blogs for Googling themselves.

They say stuff like "I'll bet you do it too" as if they were teen boys searching for MILFs and crush fetish pix.

It’s more like apologizing for balancing your checkbook.

As social media guru Kristen Lamb says “Your name is your brand.” How could it be “vain” to find out how your brand is doing?

Publishing is a business. Businesses need to take care of their brand's image. It’s why they hire public relations people. And advertisers.

I'm going to repeat Kristen's words again: YOUR NAME IS YOUR BRAND. New writers should make that their mantra. It's why you need to put your own name (or the name you write under) prominently on your blog. Preferably in the blog's header. It's why you need an "about me" page—with contact information. YOU are your product. Not a book. Not a setting. Not a genre. You.

NOTE: If you have a really common name like Anne Allen, use your middle name or initial on everything. Otherwise you disappear onto page 57 of a Google search.

When you think of bestselling writers, what pops into your head first: "Stephen King" or "that writer from Maine"? When you think of bestselling romance, do you think of  "The Last Boyfriend" or "The Perfect Hope" or do you think "Nora Roberts"?

Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Dan Brown are BRANDS. Not their genre, setting or titles. This doesn't mean "they're so vain." It means they're good business people.

You want to be a brand too. (Which means you have to use a pen name if your name actually is Stephen King or Nora Roberts.) You don't want to blog or tweet as @RomanceMomma or @PeoriaDude. Don't use a picture of a landmark, baby or the Tardis as your Twitter avatar. Don't name your blog, "Sweet Savage Surrender" or "The Rubens Code" (You can't copyright a title and chances are somebody's used it before. anyway.)

What you want to present to the world is YOU, the author.

Industry insider Porter Anderson is especially unfond of those baby-avatars. He didn't mince words when speaking of them on this week's Writing on the Ether. "When people use their (or someone else’s) childhood pictures as their avatars, it’s not cute, entertaining, funny, endearing, authentic, nor—and this is most important—informative. It’s just tedious. Would you walk around town with a picture of yourself at age five stuck on your face? No? Then why are you walking around the biggest city in history with a picture of yourself at age five stuck on your face?"

I love his description of the Interwebz as "the biggest city in history." We really are in the middle of a huge virtual city—and everything we do here is "in public." That means it's super-important to know exactly what image we're presenting—and make sure we don't have any virtual spinach stuck to our teeth.

So Google frequently to see how your image is faring. Don't count on Google alerts to keep you informed. They're pretty useless. I think I get an alert for maybe one in every 1000 mentions I get.

Here are some reasons why:

1) People may be saying nice things about you. They may like you, really like you. You want to get to know those people.

People may reference your blog, discuss something you said on Facebook, or retweet something you Tweeted.

When somebody compliments your blog or gives you a shout-out, go over and comment on their blog. I've made a lot of Internet friends by approaching bloggers who have mentioned me. It's really nice to know that somebody out there appreciates your work. Those are the people you want to connect with. It's why you're on social media in the first place: to socialize.

2) A reviewer may have reviewed your book.

They don’t always notify you. Even when it’s a rave. I just found a fantastic review of No Place Like Home I didn’t know I had. I found it doing a routine check on Topsy.com this week (more on Topsy below)

I also found somebody had left three stars on the book on Goodreads without a review. (So I asked some of my reviewers who liked it to go over to Goodreads and weigh in.)

If your review is three star or lower, do NOT comment or respond to the reviewer, except maybe a quick, polite thank-you. If they reviewed an earlier version that had glitches, it's okay to say there's another version with better formatting and you'll be happy to gift it to them. But otherwise, SAY NOTHING.

But you can learn a whole lot from reading your reviews, good or bad. I know there are "art for art's" sake writers out there who don't think writers should read their own reviews. They'd prefer to sit in an ivory tower and create art and not worry if anybody is buying it. That's fine if you have somebody else to manage your career.

But if you're your own career manager, it's important to see what people like and don't like, what works and what doesn't, and who your audience is or isn't. A bad review can tell you if you need a new editor or if your grammar skills need a refresher course. And they're valuable for choosing what to put in your next book and targeting your promotions .

3) Somebody may be dissing you or misquoting you.

This happened when I got all the negative comments about my post telling grandmas how to write reviews. In those days I didn't search for my name much. I got a heads-up from a nice Tweep who had been defending me. That prompted me to do a search of my name. I found out immediately that a few people had been whipping readers into frenzies with complete fabrications about me on Absolute Write and several blogs.

I stopped in to politely correct the mis-statements. I don't recommend doing this in every case. I did it there because 1) It was a moderated forum 2) Some lovely people were defending me and I wanted to support them.

But: big warning here—don’t say anything until you’ve calmed down and are able to do it with grace. I gave myself a couple of days and then tried to be a little humorous. One guy even thanked me for being a “good sport” after he’d lambasted me for something I didn’t say.

Sometimes it's best to say nothing. Just take names and bide your time. It's important to know your enemies but you don't always have to engage with them. It's wise to pick your battles.

A recent search turned up a forum where some students were saying idiotic things about me—that I'm an uneducated, self-published author (I'm trad-pubbed and went to Bryn Mawr and Harvard.) One claimed to have read one of my books and said it was terrible, but the title wasn't remotely like any of mine. Another took the first part of a humorous sentence from this blog and cut the punch line to show I was "arrogant."

But that time, I didn't respond. 1) Nobody was defending me. It was a dogpile perpetrated by an obvious bully and his sycophants. 2) They were caught up in a frenzy and seemed too irrational to enlighten. Some people only want something to be angry about. They'll get even more enraged if you take that away from them.

But I'm glad I found the discussion. Now I know who they are and I can be on guard and make sure the misinformation doesn't spread.

4) Piracy: Unauthorized sites may be selling your books.

Book pirates not only steal money from you, but they can get you in big trouble with Amazon.

I realized I hadn't been Googling my name enough when Amazon suddenly reduced one of my titles to 99 cents. I asked my publisher why, and he didn't have a clue. We finally found a pirate site was offering it for 99 cents, and somebody had reported it to Amazon, so the Zon price-matched.

In fact, a pirate can get you kicked off Amazon completely if you're in KDP Select, because of the non-compete agreement. Nobody else is allowed to sell your book—and it's YOUR job to find out if anybody else is selling it, legally or illegally.

Even if you're not in Select, you may get your book taken down because of piracy.  Romance author Elaine Raco Chase discovered this when updating one of her book covers. She uploaded it, then got an email from Amazon saying someone else had written the book and it was on sale in a number of places. She was told to prove it was hers or it would be taken off Amazon. Luckily it was a title previously published by Harlequin and she had the reversion of rights letter. But if you have a 100% self-pubbed title, and you haven't officially copyrighted the book (which most of us don't bother to do) you're in deep do-do.

Some pirates will take your book down if you ask. They don't want a hassle. And if somebody else is selling your book on Amazon, the Zon will take it down quickly once you prove it's yours. But you can't do that if you don't know the pirated books exist.

Google your name and your titles. Often. 

I also recommend using Topsy.com, which will tell you what impact you’re having right now. You can search your name for the last hour, couple of days, or month. Google is oddly anarchic when it comes to chronology, so Topsy is a must for me.

An occasional stop to Bing and Yahoo is good too. They can bring up a few things that may get lost in Google overload.

Also, a quick check at Klout.com  and PeerIndex will give you an idea of your social media reach. It’s important to see how effectively you’re using your social media time.

I'm not pretending there aren't lots of annoying things about Klout, and it can feel like a Jr. High popularity contest, but it helps you see how to use social media better. By looking at my Klout stats, I discovered that sharing images is a better use of my Facebook time than posting the useful links to publishing blogs that people like on Twitter. Facebook people seem to prefer LOL Cats and cartoons and my Tweeple like links to breaking news stories about the industry.

I think it’s because Facebook is more of an entertaining, take-a-break place, and Twitter is more of an information center.

Another great resource for finding out the state of your brand is your blog stats. I don't recommend obsessing about them, because when you start out they can seem really dismal. (I got between 0-5 hits per post for most of the first year of this blog.)

But once you start getting hits, check where they're coming from. Look on your dashboard for "Overview, then "more stats" then "traffic sources."

When you suddenly get 55 hits from one blog address, that means a blogger has probably given you a shout-out. Go visit.

And check "audience" too. It can be fascinating. You can see what kind of device people are using to read your blog. And where they come from. Although the vast majority of our readers are from the US, last week we had a couple thousand from the UK, Russia, Canada, France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Sweden, and Australia.

Hey there, non-Yanks, speak up! We want to hear from you. I'd love to hear in the comments where all of you are from.

Then run off and Google yourselves...

What about you, scriveners? Have you done a search on your name recently? Have you found any useful information? Have you run into any pirates? Argh. And where are you from?

News:

The 2013 version of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE...AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY is NOW LIVE.  You can read an excerpt from the book on Catherine Ryan Hyde's blog this week. She points out that many people have got the wrong idea about the book. It's NOT another manual telling you how to self-publish. It's about how to prepare to be a published writer no matter what road you choose. Lots of info on how to research agents, deal with critiques, whether you should rewrite without a contract...and much more.

If you subscribed to get updates and haven't received them, just email Mark Williams international Digital Publishing and put "SUBSCRIBE TO HOW TO BE" in the header. Send it to markwilliamsauthor at gmail dot com.  Let them know if you need mobi-Kindle, epub, PDF or some other format. If you bought the book but didn't subscribe--or you bought the paper book--state that and you can still get an updated ebook.


You can read an in-depth interview with Catherine Ryan Hyde and me about the new updates of How to Be a Writer in the E-Age...And Keep Your E-Sanity. It's over at You Read it Here First. Our wonderful interviewer is Joanna Celeste.

RUTH HARRIS'S BLOG will now have Thursday posts. Boomers, check out her hilarious "Boomer's Lament" this week. We'll both be posting over there, with more personal stuff and fun things about the stories behind our books. Next Thursday, February 7, I'll be talking about the cult of thinness and how the body size-acceptance movement sparked my novel Food of Love.

ANNE will be talking to Aussie romance writer Monique McDonell on February 5th at her blog. Plus I give the Secret Recipe for Leona's Chocolate Angel Pie from Food of Love.

NEXT WEEK: Mark Edwards, who is half of the superstar team that rode indie success to a major deal with HarperCollins with Killing Cupid, will be here. He's going to tell us HOW TO WRITE A KILLER PRODUCT DESCRIPTION—perhaps your most important sales tool in the digital age.

Opportunity Alerts:

#1 if & When--Literary Lines: Have you written brilliant lines you've never found the right novel or poem to put them in? Now you might be able get them published! A new literary magazine if & When, (pays in copies) is looking for your short fiction & creative nonfic (1500 words or less), poetry (50 lines or less, up to 5) and something I found intriguing: "Literary Lines": 1-2 original sentences that "you've been aching to use somewhere but never found the right project" (up to 5) Send your submissions to submissions@ifwhen.us in a word document, attached to an email with a subject line of “Genre, Last name.” Include first and last name, phone number and mailing address in the body of your email.

#2 Tech-Savvy Author Workshop: If you live on the Central Coast of California and you’re interested in learning about blogging, building platform and everything a 21st Century author needs to know, Anne will be teaching at a seminar called THE TECH SAVVY AUTHOR with Catherine Ryan Hyde, screenwriter and radio personality Dave Congalton and a whole crew of smart techie folks on March 2nd.

#3 Interested in having your short fiction recorded for a weekly podcast?There’s no pay, but it’s fantastic publicity if your story is accepted by SMOKE AND MIRRORS. They broadcast about three stories a week. Spooky, dark tales preferred. No previous publication necessary. They judge on the story alone.

#4 Cash prizes for flash fiction. The San Luis Obispo NIGHTWRITERSare holding their annual 500-word story contest. Anybody from anywhere in the world is welcome to enter. Prizes are $200, $150 and $75. This is a fantastic organization that boasts a number of bestselling authors among their members, including Jay Asher, Jeff Carlson, and moi. (Well, some sell better than others :-) ) Deadline is March 31st.

#5 $2000 Grand Prize. NO entry fee. Call for Entries—The Flying Elephants Short Story Prize, sponsored by "Ashes & Snow" artist Gregory Colbert. AndWeWereHungry, a new online literary magazine, seeks literary short stories for its debut issue fiction contest. THEME: "And We Were Hungry....," or "Hunger." For isn't it, to quote Ray Bradbury, hunger or "lack that gives us inspiration?"  Prize: One grand prize ($2000) + three finalists (each $1,000) + eight runner-ups. Deadline: March 31, 2013.


56 comments:

  1. Anne—As always, informative & useful! Ruth Harris is a dirt-common name & a Google search is useless—the other day I got a fan letter from someone who was looking for "the other Ruth Harris," the one who wrote non fiction about the Dreyfus Affair.

    Still, it's the name I write under. Can I add middle initials at this late date even tho they don't appear on my covers?

    Ruth, having an identity crisis.

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  2. Great post and the best advice. I don't shy away from finding out if my name is out there. It takes up one entire page and part of the second page in google.

    Another pointer from Kristen Lamb is to make sure you put your name as a "tag" in every blog post. I note you do that. I do as well. My name and then the name of the blog.
    Florence Fois, fOIS In The City, are in every post.

    BTW ... I finally became a dot com. It is no longer "Ramblings" although Wordpress will redirect all traffic. I am now officially:
    foisinthecity.com

    See? I listen to you all the time. Thanks as always :)

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  3. Some good advice. I went and used that dashboard and found some interesting things. Vampirstat.com and zombiestat.com has checked me out and it seems most of my readers are from the states all be it a very small group-less than 10.
    I do worry sometimes the stories I put out will be taken but I do like doing it and when I do turn them into e-books I will copyright them. I'm working on one now.

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  4. Great post and advice. I like Kristen Lamb's blog too. I'm really starting to think about platform more so will save this post to check on myself once in awhile.

    Since I joined a blog and Casey had already named it Literary Rambles, my blog can't have my name in it. But I'm thrilled to be part of such an awesome blog and I still see myself out there some. I'm sure it'd be more if I was a published author.

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  5. Non-Yank speaking up! I'm from Bristol, England, and appreciate your informative blog entries. Thank you!

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  6. I'm using a pen name and I Google it occasionally to see what's up. I found that a embassy in Europe liked my iconic Paris photo and was using it in his info which had something to do with Paris (I think he was giving me credit for it). I found someone had noticed a guest post I had written for another blogger that appeared on Salon.com.

    Since I'm incognito for a reason (harassment), I want to see what's being said in the blogosphere just in case as well.

    I also look at the stats! (the basic ones, I love seeing other countries looking at my posts

    So, once again, I agree with you and I do some of the things you suggest. Enjoyed this post very much. Will have to check out Ruth's posts soon, too.

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  7. Oh yes, forgot to say I'm in Vancouver, BC, Canada, originally from the US South. I love the west coast in Canada.

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  8. I can only wish for 55 blog visits from a shout-out at this point.

    I am getting links, including from guest posts, but they tend to not get a lot of visitors in general, so they're more about building relationships with other bloggers than getting new followers.

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  9. Typing to you from Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada...
    I agree this is an informative and useful article. And I did Topsy and Klout myself--it wasn't nearly as painful as it sounds. However, it was more confusing than helpful--at least for me. How do you interrupt the data?

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  10. I've set up Google Alerts for my name, my website, my email address, and my titles. If any of those have been mentioned anywhere online, I get a daily email letting me know. While I'll still sometimes Google myself, I prefer alerts because they're automatic.

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  11. Never thought about pirated copies. I do Google my name now and then. Scary how many blogs I show up on!

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  12. To tweak one of Lewis Carroll's lines, your blog is getting comprehensiver & comprehensiver! Thanks again, & special thanks for the opportunities listed after the post.

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  13. Ruth, at this point in your career, I think you need to consider yourself THE Ruth Harris and let the other ones use their middle initials. :-)

    Fois--Congrats on becoming a dot com! You're definitely doing it right.

    Vera--Those zombiestats and vampirestats are intriguing. Everything that has appeared on your blog is automatically considered published and copyrighted. If somebody steals from your blog without attribution, they're breaking the law. Otherwise, they're using the idea of "creative commons" which most bloggers are OK with. You can also make a copyright statement on the blog, saying people cannot use your content without permission.

    Annette--Hello there! Very glad to have Brits here. We try to make our advice general enough that it applies to the UK market too.

    DG--Hi there, fellow west-coaster! Finding your photos used with attribution is awesome. A profitable search. Pen names can be necessary for a number of reasons. Glad you hear yours is getting recognition.

    Chihuahua--The first stage of blogging is forming relationships. Sounds like you're doing it right.

    Hi Leanne--That's two Canadians now. I so much enjoyed being interviewed on your blog. As far as interpreting the data--that takes time. Observe what the patterns are.

    ED--If you can get Google alerts to work for you, I'd love to know your secret! I haven't got an alert for over 2 months, but I find hourly mentions on Topsy. When I said the pick up one in 1000, I was being very generous. It's a complete washout for me. I have alerts on my name, the blog, my book titles, everything. I've never got more than one or two obscure tweets picked up in a month--usually something from 6 months ago.

    Alex--That's one of the problems. When you're on so many blogrolls, it's hard to find the actual new mentions.

    CS--I'm glad to hear you like our new "Opportunities" feature. And our comprehensivity.:-)

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  14. Natalie--You get your own comment. Literary Rambles is one of the most useful blogs for writers looking to go the traditional publishing route. Just awesome. But it has the problem of group blogs, which Elizabeth S. Craig talked about this week http://bit.ly/11iKqTG. They're not good for your personal platform.

    I'd suggest that you and Casey put your names in the header. "Literary Rambles with Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre" If you can't do that, at least put your name as a byline right under the title of each post. "Agent Laurie McLean-- Profile by Natalie Aguirre" or something like that. I realize it's Casey's blog and she's been doing a fabulous job, but it's OK to use all that hard work to promote yourselves, too.

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  15. It's because of what you and Kristen Lamb have been saying that I have been knee deep in blog post migration and rebranding. I finally set up a site with my name as the address. My previous blog limited me in determining what content would be appropriate. With the new site I should be able to broaden my reach a bit.

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  16. 3 things:
    1 - Know your enemy
    2 - Choose your battles
    3 - The interwebz is a megapolis

    ... all priceless gems!

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  17. Thoroughly enjoyed your post & good advice. Reading you in Brighton, East Susssex, an English south coast city of about 250,000 that is often called London by the Sea. Now going to try some of rhe websites you mentioned. One of the things I like about my name is that it is rather old fashioned so on Google Uk it is either me or a name in a family tree...

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  18. I like seeing my name in a google search. Its why I write under my real name. How else will I get fabulously famous :)

    .........dhole

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  19. I have an uncommon name and yet when I goggle my name I get pages about a very successful doctor. When I put in my name followed by "author" I get myself. Don't know if anyone looking for me will do that, though. Thanks for another wonderful post. So helpful.

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  20. The Beckos--It sounds as if you needed to make a clean sweep, but most people don't. Kristen didn't change her url (it's still warriorwriters) All most of us have to do is change the name in the header of the blog. That way you can keep all the good karma you've built up with the Google spiders. And you can always change the subject matter of a blog. If we wanted to change this blog, we could change "Writing about writing. Mostly" to "Writing about writing. On Tuesdays. The rest of the time, it's Red Hot Mamas All the Time!" (Luckily, we don't. :-) )

    Widdershins--Thanks! It's cool that you write under such an unusual pen name. Not one people will forget. Nice to have another Canuck here.

    Bridget--And another Brit! Happy St. Bridget's Day yesterday! I love Sussex!

    Donna--How could you be anything but fabulous?

    Christine--"Author" is sometimes necessary. And sometimes you have to put "Your Name" in quotes. Is that doctor in Ireland? I think your name is much more common there.

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  21. Great advice Anne. I especially agree with using your name on all the places you 'live' on the internet. I can't count how many writers and even so-called 'social media experts' I've met who tell me, "I'm on Twitter, follow me" and I can't find them because they use some cutesy handle, and they use an anonymous persona on their blog, yet they expect people to find them! And don't get me started on bloggers who don't list any other way to contact them besides commenting on a post. I'll be sharing this succinct and common sense post everywhere. Thanks, Anne. Power to the writers, be the brand! :)

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  22. Hi Anne! Non-yank here. Pure Aussie! And this blogpost is right up my alley. To begin with, the whole brand issue: I have just changed the name of my blog from 'mesmered' to 'PrueBatten'. It wasn't easy to carry out and took a little time for google to register the change, requiring me to blog every day for almost a month. But the change is registering now and i'm happy.
    I also use my own name for Pinterest and Twitter and any other social media. As Kristen and you say: I am my brand.
    It took time for me to realise this. Being a writer who is indie-published and lacking confidence, I felt the need to hide my name and it wasn't until one of my books won a silver medal last year in an international book award, that I had the validation I needed to market myself openly. BUT, and here is the big but - I had never thought to google myself, never heard of Topsy and thought Bing was Crosby and Yahoo was what we do across the paddocks on our farm when we need to get attention! I've bookmarked everything and am going to be quite the little businesswoman now and thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction. Cheers!

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  23. Some very good points. I think I might just go and Google my name,
    Marj,

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  24. Loved this, Anne! Your blogs are always so amusing! I used to Google my name until, about a year ago, I turned up a horrible 1 star review on a site I didn't know existed until then. It depressed me for days and made me resolve to stoop googling Gerry McCullough. However, you've reconverted me. Going to look now.

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  25. Excellent analysis, ever so useful, Anne, many thanks...from another Non-Yank fan, I'm sitting here in Rome!

    I hadn't realized so many things, really an eye-opener! For one, I thought Google alerts were better, for another I never thought of using Bing and the others. And I finally understand now why my FB pages are duds: not enough pictures and memes! FB is for entertainment, Twitter for information, great insight, many thanks!

    I'd love to know what you think of Pinterest?

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  26. Great blog, Anne! I just googled myself and found my ebook posted in its entirety on a website that I'm not sure what it's all about. Have to research THAT one to figure out if it's a pirated copy, or if I inadvertently tapped into some libraries ebook collection database (I offer it on Smashwords for free to public libraries).

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  28. Kristin--Thanks for the RT and I love this: "Be the Brand!" I'm so with you on those people who constantly beg "Follow me on twitter" and use some nonsensical twitter handle they don't even post on the blog.

    Prue--Great to have someone weigh in from Oz! I love what you're doing with the blog. It's true that a lot of us start out feeling shy and as if we can't put ourselves out there as "real authors". But you were a real author even before you won that big award. Congrats.

    Marj--Happy Googling!

    Charley--Thanks!

    Gerry--It's tough to run into nasty stuff about your work. But I tell myself all famous people are hated by somebody, so if I'm getting dissed somewhere, maybe I'm climbing up that fame ladder.

    And I happen to know you're from Northern Ireland. Another country weighing in.

    Claude--Great to hear from bella Roma (Is there still an Overseas School in Rome? I went there my Junior year in high school.)

    Pinterest scares me, because of copyright issues with images. But lots of people love it.

    Anna--I have found my books on some sites I thought were iffy, but they turned out to be lending sites--like a library. Those are legit. If they're charging money and you're in KDP Select, then it's not legit. I'm not quite sure how to tell with the books not in Select.

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  29. Anne, your blog just gets better and better. Love the new features. Keep the indispensable advice coming.

    Paul

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  30. In addition to searching your name, I also suggest searching images. I always tag my blog images with my name, which is one more way of getting exposure. I love your approach to not reacting to critics, which shows true professionalism. Also, I wasn't aware of Topsy, so thanks on that count!

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  31. Hm... So the question is - how do I move myself away from using my very unique 'screen name' to my author name... I have been trying, sort of, I'm being a bit slow on the uptake though. *grin*

    Oh, and I've completely forgotten the procedure for updating my How 2 Be. Is it automatic? and if so how do I check it's been updated properly? *Sigh* Sorry to bug you with such technical questions. :}

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  33. Paul--Thanks a bunch. And Congrats on your new book launch! Let me know if you hear of any good contests or other "opportunities" for our list.

    Jeri--Good tip. I'm not a photographer and we don't use images much here, but if you do use your own photos, it would be very smart to Google them. You might find people using them without attribution. Especially on Pinterest.

    Cathryn--It's a good idea to make a choice and then use one name for everything. The most unusual name is the best to use, so you won't get lost in the Google searches.

    I wish I knew how the updates word. I'm still waiting to hear from Mr. International. I'll post the info here when I find out. If you signed up, you should be getting them, but I don't know exactly how it works.

    Alex--Thanks for jumping through the "hoops" and making a comment. I know Blogger makes it tough for people with Wordpress blogs to comment here.

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  34. Hi Anne,
    Your posts are always chock full of outstanding information.
    I definitely keep them for future reference.
    Okay, so I'm at the bottom of the list today, doesn't mean I'm at the bottom when I do a goggle search. :-)
    Thanks,
    Tracy

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  35. Great advice Anne! And not just for authors, but anyone concerned about their on-line reputation. I have my name and my books on Google Alerts and I agree they are not fail proof. Like you I periodically google my name to see what they might have missed.

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  36. Tracy--Thanks for bookmarking us!

    Joanne--You're right that everybody benefits from knowing how their online reputation is faring. If you can get Google alerts to do anything but fail, you know something I don't know. Maybe it's because your name is more unusual than mine. I haven't had a Google alert in months, but I get mentions ever hour, according to Topsy. Hmmm. I wonder if my spam filter is eating the alerts. I'll have to check that out...

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  37. This is a fabulous resource Anne. I'm glad I found your blog and will check it regularly (but not before googling and topsy-ing myself). Thanks for this posting.

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  38. Absolutely incredible--I just did a quick search and found two reviews of my new book, Bug Patrol, that I didn't even know existed--one on a blog and one on Huff Posts "List of Books to Read" this month! Still haven't even finished my searches. Thanks again for your insights!

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  39. Completely agree. I Google myself a few times a month. It's not vanity at all, although people I know who aren't writers do assume that googling oneself is vanity. It's good sense, plain and simple. Also, when you're creating an internet presence, it's a good idea to know what people might be saying about you out there. Once upon a time, the only thing I had out there was my Google profile and the second item when you Google my name was someone insulting a blog I'd written for a class... on a completely unrelated site. That's now buried in the Google results, hooray.

    I should probably set up a google alert to do all this for me automatically, but I haven't gotten around to it.

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  40. Denise--Congrats on getting on the HuffPo list! Wow. What a reward for a quick Google search. So glad I prompted you to find it.

    Callie--As I said above in the body of the post and in the comments several times: GOOGLE ALERTS ARE USELESS. They pick up maybe one in 1000 mentions. And that's in a good month. Sorry about the trolly idiot dissing your blog. They are always out there. At least you've buried the post now.

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  41. Ooh, I feel silly. Don't know how I missed that. Oh well, more reason to continue to avoid using them. I did check out the other sites you linked. Topsy is interesting. I've checked Klout... keep thinking that someday I should try to get smart about my social networking instead of just doing whatever seems fun. :P

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  42. Callie--You're not the only one. Obviously I didn't make that Point strongly enough in the blogpost.

    You know--what "seems fun" may be the very best use of social media. That's doing it for real instead of manipulating people following a formula invented by marketing people who don't really get that social media is social.

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  43. Excellent blog and more important, excellent advice. I've heard Kristin's talk and read her book and she is absolutely correct - your name IS your brand. Thanks for reminding us.

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  44. Anne, thank you for the info. Fantastic blog. Sunny Frazier (whose name is a brand that many of you, might want to check out), referred me here, so your brand, does work. Augie

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  45. James--Thanks for spreading the word. Kristen is awesome.

    Augie--Sunny is a force of nature. She and I belong to the same chapter of Sisters in Crime. I quote her often here and in my book.

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  47. Hi Anne.

    Great points! :)

    I've done this even before the writing occupation. As an editor too. For me, it's business related, but also a security matter.

    It never crossed my mind that someone should apologize for doing so, or that it is an embarrassing thing. It's absolutely necessary for marketing, business, safety, research etc. issues.

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  48. Hi Anne.

    Guess what! (great post by the way).

    I finally worked out how to leave a comment using my website as a username! :o

    Just need to get a picture now. :)

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  49. I J--You're right about security issues. Sounds as if you have good business instincts. Authors get confused about art and business and can get shy at the wrong times.

    Alex--Congrats! You defeated the Blogger Wordpress-Thwarters!

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  50. I google myself periodically to make sure my website comes up at the top of the search, but almost everything on the first few pages was written by myself. I rarely see mentions of my name by other people come up near the top.

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  51. Meghan--You generally have to go to the later pages--try #10 through #20 to find the mentions. Most bloggers probably don't have the SEO that your own blog does.

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  52. These are excellent tips. I've looked myself up before but didn't take it too seriously. I will now.

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  53. Wow, you've given me a lot to think about. I appreciate the post. Since I have short stories published, but no books, I haven't taken my reach or brand all that seriously.

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  54. Sheena--I did too. Just as kind of a joke. But when all that stuff came up, I realized it was an important part of my marketing.

    Teresa--It was when I was a freelancer that I found out the importance of those searches. I found one article that had gone viral--it was on hundreds of blogs and translated into dozens of languages. I didn't get paid for any of those, but it sure did raise my profile.

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