The Google Alert: An Author's Friend? Or Frenemy?

Meg Mitchell Moore's second novel comes out in a week. So Far Away combines the lives of a wayward teenage victim of cyberbullying and a lonely archivist. Given that a terrific set-up for a novel, it only makes sense that Meg would have such insight about a cyber quandary that many authors experience at launch time. Thank you, Meg!  --Sarah P. 
Before my first novel, The Arrivals, was about to published—this was a little over a year ago—a fellow author told me about Google alerts. “It’s great!” this author told me. “You put in your name and the name of your book and you get an email every day telling you where your book has been mentioned.”
As a debut author I thought that sounded pretty great. (“What? People talking about my book? Sign me up!”) Over to Google I headed, and it was with the pride of a mother enrolling her firstborn for kindergarten that I registered my name and that of my book.
Things went along swimmingly for a little while. It was through Google alerts that I found out about my first Publisher’s Weekly review, which was very positive. A couple of blog posts popped up too, and those were fun to see. Then, one day, something less nice came up. I don’t even remember exactly what it was but I think most authors can identify with the feeling that accompanied it: the hollow stomach, the shortness of breath. The flushed cheeks, even though I was the only one in the room. (Maybe that last one is just me: Irish skin.)     
A week or so went by, and every day at 2:20 (which is when my alerts came in to my email box) I noticed a strange sensation that traveled through my body, finally settling somewhere in my midsection. The first day I mistook it for adrenaline or hopefulness. But then I got to know it a little better and I realized it was pure, unadulterated anxiety. Let me say that one more time. These were actual physical sensations that I was experiencing because of something that might happen. Not something that had happened or was happening.  Something that might happen. And I felt it every single day.
I hated it.
Four more days passed, same deal. And then I remembered this: you could un-register for those alerts just as quickly as you could register for them. So I did. And you know what? Immediately I felt better. Two-twenty became a much more peaceful time of day for me, during which I was able to concentrate on my work in progress or walking my dog or making my kids a snack rather than waiting at my computer. Life outside the book went on, as life outside books tends to do.
Did I really miss any good news about my book that way? Maybe. Did I miss any bad? Who knows! My second novel is coming out next week and while I hardly consider myself a seasoned novelist I have learned that positive feedback generally makes its way toward its intended recipient via publicists or agents or readers themselves. Negative feedback: not that helpful anyway, and probably best paid no heed.
Oh, while I was giving up the Google alerts I kicked the Amazon review habit. I got the Goodreads monkey off my back.
My husband has a Google alert on my name. My sister does too. I have forbidden them from telling me when my name pops up. My husband checks my Amazon rankings; I do not. When he calls and says, “I know you say you don’t want to know this but—” I efficiently change the subject. I’m continuing in my state of blissful ignorance just as long as I can. What can I say? I like it here.

You can find Meg at or follow her @mmitchmoore.


  1. I had no idea such a thing existed. And after reading this, I don't think I'll be rushing off to sign up for Google Alerts any time soon.

    Wonderful post.

    Thanks for sharing!

    C xx

  2. This is such good advice, Meg! I love this post.

  3. I have Google Alerts on my name (rarely comes up haha!) and my book title GIRL MEETS BOYS - can be very useful, have spotted some publicity I didn't know was happening. However, due to my choice of title, I get a lot of sport fixtures info... Generally, a great service, thanks Google!

  4. My name is unusual so I set up a google alert for my first name by itself, as well as first and last. Funny: some guy with my first name as his last name is very active in sports in the southeast.

    So far I enjoy the occasional alert, but my book's not published yet. Then we'll see about that. I think you have a healthy attitude.

    1. Yes! There is, somewhere, a high school math teacher with my name. And she is not very popular with her students. ;-)