You’ve no doubt heard of Google alerts. They’re a useful way of keeping abreast of new items on a topic that interests you, without having to scroll through search engine pages to find them. You can try different keywords and set the alert to varying frequencies and in several languages.
Google alerts for writers
One of my alerts is, naturally, Corsica. I’ve set it to report to me once a week by email, both in English and in French. This has enabled me to find interesting, fresh information that’s relevant to my writing; nuggets among the thousands of mentions that come up if you type ‘Corsica’ into Google.
If you’re narcissistic, you can also set your name as an alert. Do I? No, of course not (fingers crossed behind my back).
Seriously, using your book title(s) as keywords is a useful way of finding new reviews or comments that you might otherwise have missed. But beware: some of what comes in will be pirate sites that are, supposedly, offering your book as a free download.
In the majority of cases, these are scams, and there is no free copy of the book at the end of the rainbow. Aggravating though they are, I just ignore then.
How many Corsicas are there?
There is another downside to Google alerts. Unless you can be very precise with your keywords, you’ll get stuff coming through that is of no interest. Thus, I discovered that Corsica is not only a French island in the Mediterranean. It’s also the name of at least two cities in the U.S., one in South Dakota, the other in Pennsylvania. So I get all their news as well.
What’s more, it’s the name of a car, the Chevrolet Corsica. It was manufactured between 1987 and 1996 and, funnily enough, it was named after the island of Corsica. This enduring vehicle is still going strong, judging by the number of for sale ads listed in my Google alert.
Once I have waded through all this, I have a handful of relevant references. Even so, I still find Google alerts useful for research and generally keeping up to date with a place I write about.
However, to paraphrase a well-known expression, be careful what you ask for.
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Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2017, all rights reserved.