If you aren’t familiar with Google Alerts, get on it!
As a writer, it’s invaluable to have something like this. In fact, most people already do something similar. In the LA Times, they point out: “It’s a necessary effort to shape — and protect — your online brand.”
And alerts makes it easy. For example: a few days ago, I put Dangerous Rainbows on Mininova.org, a free download. But due to Google alerts, I’ve been notified over the past few days that 8 other websites have taken the torrent from Mininova and host it themselves. You can go to several other websites, check their books section, and I’ll be there… one of the lone legal downloads out of thousands. But there, nonetheless. And I wouldn’t have known where my book ended up without those alerts.
Another example: I posted a review a while ago, and then the author commented on it. It was pretty awesome of Mr. Resnick to do that. But how did he know? Was he just randomly googling himself and stumbled across me? Or, was there a Google alert set up, alerting him to when his name appeared on a new website.
Another similar thing, Ars Technica has an article about young people being guarded about what they put online, based on a Pew study. As careful as that is, what about what others put online about you? As a writer, audience interaction is critical. I know that if I like an author, I get as much of their stuff as possible. A fan speaks about those they read. And author interaction with those fans builds a good rapport with readers.
Probably, many have already figured this out. But if you haven’t, do it. Just remember to use the minus sign to eliminate words and phrases that could be associated with objects not related to your name, novel, etc. For example, I had an alert for both “The Lupine Prince” and “Together with Silver” – there was a problem with the second. Antique dealers. Silver spoons. Gold together with silver. I had so many minus signs to eliminate everything antique related, and then something else would pop up. Unfortunately, those three words are too common to use in an alert. So if you’re John Smith, an alert on that won’t help. But if your someone like James Ashman (and not the doctor… that was an interesting alert), with a relatively unique combination of titles and names, get on it! Especially if you self-publish.
419 words I could have used in a novel.