Stupid Google Alerts
Admit it. You've Googled yourself, haven't you?
But you don't have to anymore. You may have heard of the nifty Google Alert tool, which searches for any phrase you tell it to once a day, and then Google e-mails you the results.
For a writer, Google Alerts are really convenient. For example, you can set up an alert on your book title so you'll be notified of book reviews you might not have found otherwise on a blog or news site you didn't even know existed.
I have a friend with a relatively small blog who wrote about her experience with a particular book, and within a day, the author had commented on her post.
How do you think the author even found her blog? It had to be with a Google Alert.
Awesome and convenient, no?
Definitely. Especially if your book has a title like many of my friends' books. Say, When Hearts Conjoin, or The Mazerunner, or Farworld or All the Stars in Heaven or Abinadi.
For my friends and their books, if Google finds their titles somewhere, there's a pretty good chance that the post or article is going to be about their book.
And then . . . well, then there are my books.
Do you have any idea how useless Google Alerts are for my titles?
They are all common phrases.
Let's take a look: House on the Hill
For that one, my daily Google Alert e-mail used to consist of a good dozen or more links, most referring to tourist descriptions of places they'd visited.
"We visited this beautiful house on the hill . . ."
After months and months of daily e-mails with not a single link about the actual book, I finally deleted the stupid alert.
Oh, and what about, say, Tower of Strength?
Do you have any idea how often that phrase is used whenever someone describes a loved one who has been a support? I didn't, until I created an alert for the phrase.
I swear, I get links all the time about family tragedies and how the father or the mother or whoever was a "tower of strength" for the rest of the family. Or it's a romantic tribute from one spouse to another. ("You are my tower of strength . . .")
Any time a celebrity dies, I can guarantee I'll get a bunch of "tower of strength" links about whoever is supporting the family.
Great for them. Not what I'm looking for.
Let's look at my other titles, shall we?
At the Journey's End
Another phrase tourists use. Also, I've discovered, a common name for places like bed and breakfasts. Another deleted alert.
Spires of Stone
Not quite as common as the others, but still used a lot by people in describing architectural structures they see on travels, whether it's cathedrals or whatever. I haven't deleted this alert, because I don't get dozens and dozens of irrelevant links. Just several regular ones, and every so often, there will be a real one referring to the book. Still annoying, mostly useless.
Lost Without You
A common phrase peppered throughout blogs. Since the book is out of print, it's pretty rare anyone blogs about it anyway. Alert deleted.
At the Water's Edge
Common descriptor that pops up regularly in articles and blogs. Lots of irrelevant links. Another out of print book. Another deleted alert.
There, Their, They're
You'd be amazed at how often word nerd people like me post about these homonyms . . . in this order. That's the weirdest part. I get links all the time about their misuse, and they're listed just like this. It's eerie. In all but one case, it's never been about the book.
The most useful Google Alert is simply my name, and that usually does the job well enough, because usually, if someone's going to review a book, they'll include the author's name. I'm likely to find out about it even if I'm not alerted with the title.
But then there was the time a Google Alert on my name informed me that I'd died. It sent a link to an obituary of an Annette Lyon from New York. That was disconcerting in a Twilight Zone sort of way.
Fortunately, this Annette Lyon is alive and well. And my next book's title (sounds like they're keeping it as Band of Sisters) isn't a common household phrase.
Maybe I'll finally have a useful Google Alert on a title!