Google Alerts

By Simon Kewin

Most writers will have typed their name, or the title of something they’ve written, into a search engine at some point. This can be a useful way of finding references to or reviews of your work that you didn’t know about.

Google Alerts is an invaluable (and free) system for automating this process. Using it, you can set up the search terms you’re interested in : your name, say, or the title of your novel, short story, poem or article. Google will then automatically email you if it finds any new references to the terms you’ve provided. As well as keeping tabs on your own works, you could use the system in numerous other ways: for updates on a favourite writer, for example, or on an agent you are interested in contacting. Or you could use it to find updates on a particular period or location you are researching for a novel.

The system gives you some control over which web sites it will check on your behalf. For example, you can tell it just to look at blog posts, or videos, or simply to look everywhere. You can also specify how frequently alerts are to be sent to you: daily, weekly, or as they are discovered.

The success with which the system works depends very much on the search terms you use. If you provide a commonly-used term, you’ll probably get lots of false positives. A more distinctive term – the exact title of a novel say – will work better.

The web site for setting up these alerts is here. The system lets you set up as many as you like (up to a maximum of 1000), although note that you do have to register with Google to use the system.

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1 Response to “Google Alerts”

  • Peter

    I find Google Alerts one of the most useful online services available and seem to have about 200 Alerts myself! For Writers it’s really useful to set-up Alerts for your book ISBN numbers Eg. 10 digit “047039062X” and the 13 digit: “978-0470390627” in addition to your books title and your name. You can then see who’s selling it and read any reviews etc.
    Try and be proactive in getting some positive reviews on Amazon etc as soon as possible, by giving out some pre-publication drafts (PDFs?) to solicit some early positive feedback.

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