January 16, 2006


Dude -- I am kinda having a day. Mental Illness Rise-O-Meters are always on HIGH SENSITIVITY DEFCON YELLOW status when Scott leaves the state for WEEKS AT A FREAKIN' TIME.

On top of the regular, I just got a note from someone explaining how I can use GOOGLE ALERTS so that Google will google ABOUT me FOR me AUTOMATICALLY and alert me whenever anyone says anything with my name in it. TEMPTING, I admit, but also a little bit like hiring a geeksquad to squat silently on top of toilets in every girls room in all of middle school and report immediately via text messaging the SECOND anyone says you are a slut or says some boy likes you or that some boy likes you BECAUSE you are a probably a slut. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as it were, all served up before you even think to go looking via e-mail. Yikes, and no thank you.

For MONTHS and months now I have imposed, in fact, a complete moratorium on googling my name, the name of my first book, the name of my upcoming book, the name of my blog, or anything else that could lead me to read about myself. I don't even check my Amazon ranking number or reviews anymore. (Digression: OH! WOW! THAT WAS A WHOPPER! In fact a NEW review just went up on Amazon titled "little g" gods in Alabama, "capital g," Genius, that makes my heart sing like a ... singing thing. It is truer to say that I don't check EVERY DAY. Or even every WEEK. Just...most weeks. ONCE most weeks. And even at that slow rate, I find I feel dirty after.)

But self-googling has been completely cancelled since before I went on book tour, even. And yes, that includes YAHOOing or ASK JEEVESing too. It was making me even more self involved and egocentric than I already was just from being a writer. WHICH FACE IT -- we all have to be a LEETLE egocentric or how else would we have the chutzpah/balls/ovaries/guts to say I THINK I WILL BE A NOVELIST AND I AM POSITIVE I HAVE SOMETHING WORTH SAYING AND REJECTION DOES NOT STOP ME, IN FACT, NO CLEARLY MEANS YES OR AT LEAST PLEASE SEND AGAIN, TRA LA.

As gods in Alabama prepared for launch, I used to google it and my own name relentlessly. I realized that as I prepared to google myself, my mouth would go dry and my heart rate would increase, TERROR and HOPE at war within my dove-like, tender bosom. DO YOU LIKE ME, I would ask the pretty internets. DO YOU LIKE MY BOOK??? DO YOU? DO YOU? I allowed the positive to feed the uglier bits of my ego and I let the negative hurt me in a personal way. Since I can't seem to grow a thicker skin and I can't seem to balance my tendency with make out with myself with anything more healthy than an equal and opposing dose of self loathing, I decided googling me is just BAD. No googley the selfy.

Also, I have learned I do not have to. If something REALLY good happens on the internets, someone kindly will usually pop me a link and say OH LOOK YAY THIS HAPPENED and then I can say yay back and celebrate the moment with a friend instead of furtively reading about myself in a manner that can only be described with a PG 13 word I won't use here, but it rhymes with schmasturbatory. Also, if something really BAD happens, there are a couple of people who will absolutely send me a link, and make sorrowful tut-tut noises at me while enjoying the heck out of the thought that they may have made my day a little crappier. They are that sort, you know the kind. You have had friends like that, who ones who love it when you fall on your face. The kind Nichelle Tramble blogged about so eloquently...

What about you. Do you google you? Do you use classmates? If you blog, do you technorati? If you are a fellow writer or person with a lot of google hits on their name for whatever reason, do you find you are actually mentally and spiritually balanced and can read about yourself and your work dispassionately? HOW? If you can, then more power to you, and can I please borrow YOUR therapist.

Posted by joshilyn at January 16, 2006 2:18 PM

Okay, Google Alerts? That's a little scary.

I admit to having Goggled myself a few times, buoyed more by the number of references than the content (it's all about getting myself out there, good or bad - hopefully either one will spark more interest).

I've Googled my book title and been amused at the sites that claim it relates to their topic. (I found a Wiccan site that claims my book is related to Wicca because one character got involved in a Wiccan chat room after going to an Introduction to Kabbalah class with her Jewish boyfriend - the story makes total sense when you read the book; the web site claim is possibly another matter.)

I REFUSE to look at Amazon rank; the one time I did I figured I could either be depressed or consider it wildly inaccurate, so I chose the latter.

At this point Google references = exposure, and I'll take that, especially since my book was released amidst a tragedy of errors (an author's nightmare, lemmee tell ya) and the media promotion got squashed. So for me, at this point, Googling is generally a good thing, though I think I'll stay away from the Google Alerts. Sounds to much like, "Hey! Someone has gossipped about you! Wanna hear what they said?"

That said, my therapist's calendar fills up quickly, so you should call soon. ;-)

Sheyna Galyan
"Destined to Choose: A Rabbi David Cohen Novel"
Blog - http://booksandbeliefs.blogspot.com

Posted by: Sheyna Galyan at January 16, 2006 3:48 PM

I have totally Google Alerted myself.. I don't know why really, I just wanted to see if my married name was getting any hits! I had set it up under my last name and it helped me to find a couple articles that were reprinted without my permission. But now that my last name is so simple I get a lot of hits related to 'cooking'. So it's pretty boring now.

Posted by: Heather Cook at January 16, 2006 4:27 PM

Hi, I'm Cele (not real name - but I use it A.LOT - so does that mean I rightfully refer to myself in third person?) It began, in part, to find out whether my weekly Wednesday Links were easy to find online. Then what the heck, how about my professional name? Oh, Oh, Oh what about my website? And then there was the blog for my links...and it all stopped short when I got that kindly google message asking if it could alert me to the googlies about myself.

I've been self-googly free for two months now. Girl Scouts' Honor. It was too depressing. And now I'm just humiliated *sniff* *sniff* Did I mention I do links? You can google them :) ...and find everyone else's site that post then except mine. :(

Posted by: Cele at January 16, 2006 4:54 PM

My vote? Maketh the husbandeth do it. Like all the other dirty jobs. ;o)

Posted by: Martha O'Connor at January 16, 2006 6:28 PM

Lucky me, I was easily able to overcome selfgooglitis after discovering that quite a few (much more famous) folks share my name. Now I prefer to Google boys I made out with in high school. I get extra points for turning up a picture of them that proves they're uglier now.

And you can't borrow my therapist, because--as I'm sure you can imagine--she has her hands pretty full with me.

Posted by: Mir at January 16, 2006 7:33 PM

You know, it's down right depressing for me to google my name. There are a few (very few) writing related things, but mostly when you google Susan Haven you get:

1. Lot's of Susan, Haven't ...s

2. All of my dismal marathon race times.

Thanks but no thanks. But if you set Google alerts to google Writer and Writing, you get all kinds of cool writing articles...

Posted by: Susan at January 16, 2006 7:42 PM

The first line of a short story I started writing several weeks ago? "She was the kind of woman who spent her nights Googling her former lovers."

I do google occasionally--both my name, which fortunately or unfortunately, is unique, and my bloggy persona, EM. But this Google Alert thingee I should stay far, far away from. TMI about moi.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at January 16, 2006 8:29 PM

I have been very, very lucky so far that the handful of things turning up if I Google myself have been mostly nice things, and some things have been really nice and I wouldn't have known about them to thank the sayer of the really nice thing if I hadn't seen it through Google, which would have made me writhe with, yea, More Guilt Than Usual.

I have a weird enough name that if I put quotation marks around myself any hits are usually kind of relevant. If I don't do quotation marks, then it is many thousands of pages about what a genius of splendor that Cornelia Funke is, and how many places she is invited to Read all the brilliance she has written, so that sure keeps it in humbling perspective. Which is a good thing. Way better than writhing in guilt, too.

The internets have been kind to me, so far. Mean things have happened in person, so far. Or from people I know.

Like, more addictive for me than Googling is looking at the statcounter for my website. I can have days when I think "oh, I am special, because someone from Bolivia and someone from New Zealand came to look, and they stayed for circa seven minutes each, and looked at five or six pages, and they are so kind and thoughtful and a credit to their respective nations, bless them."

And then last week I saw one visitor that I knew from the ISP pretty much had to be my dad. Two minutes eight seconds. Didn't sign up for the newsletter. Didn't click on the "contact" page. Not surprisingly, didn't make a followup phone call to say, "hey, that's nice that you have a first novel coming out, and I know we haven't spoken since '97, but I wanted to tell you that I hope it goes okay, and it turns out I actually *am* a little glad you're my kid."

So. Maybe statcounter clicking is not mentally beneficial. (And also I am sorry to get this maudlin here and stuff.)

But, hey, I am even more thankful to the person from Bolivia and the person from New Zealand now. Bless them DOUBLE, and their pretty nations too.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at January 17, 2006 2:49 AM

I truly appreciated the fact that you said, "Since I can't seem to grow a thicker skin..." So many ppl claim one must be immensely thick-skinned to make it as a writer. [Which begs the question, how does one remain sensitive enough to hear one's own voice if one is so thick? ;-)]

I LOVE how willing you are to be honest and open about your struggles and your own tendency to just be... human. It is SO helpful to me as a struggling writer!

Write on, girl!


P.S. I don't google myself b/c I'm just not that interesting.

Posted by: Alicia at January 17, 2006 7:51 AM

I've done the traditional "google myself" thing mostly just because I have a common enough name for there to be many others out there with the same one and I think it's interesting to see what we're all up to - sort of the doings of the DebR club, only I'm the only one who knows we're a club. Heh. (Yeah, I know, weird...whatever)

My website shows up first on our Google "club list" (preeeen) and my blog and some links to me show up. But I've also found out that there's a former pro volleyball player, a linux upber-geek (I mean that as a compliment, btw...I admire geeks!), a surrealist painter, a jewelry designer, a college professor, and a real estate agent who all share my name.

I didn't know about the google alerts thing though, until I read about it here. I signed up just to see what would happen because, yes, I am JUST that morbidly curious. I'll send you a nice thank you note later. :-P

Posted by: DebR at January 17, 2006 9:01 AM

Oh yeah, and in a related note, I am an obssessive checker of blog stats. We're talking at least three times a day. It's a sickness.

Posted by: DebR at January 17, 2006 9:03 AM

I google myself occassionally but its usually pretty disappointing. First, my real name is a very common one and second, there are much more successful people with my name so usually it just makes me wonder why *I* haven't finished any marathons or CEO'd any companies. When I kept up my blog I was a fervent stat checker but I found it was usually me checking my own blog.

Posted by: Em at January 17, 2006 9:20 AM

Just so you know: I requested gods in alabama literally MONTHS ago and I am still waiting, so you can rest assured that there is a long line in Birmingham waiting to get their hands on your book!
Also, you guys are much more knowledgeable/proficient at Google and Sitemeter than I am...quotation marks? You can see the ISP people came from? I think I just lost a few more IQ points.

Posted by: Elena at January 17, 2006 9:32 AM

I got a wee bit obsessive about Googling myself soon after my book came out. Fortunately, most of it was a huge ego boost because it was generally nice things. It was fun finding my book mentioned on various blogs, and a few entries even made me cry in a good way when I could see how passionate someone else had become about my little story. I'd been afraid of how this book would be received, so it was reassuring to find positive feedback.

And then I made sure to send my editor all the really good links. I think it made some difference at contract time for the next couple of books in the series and seems to be affecting the way they're going about selling the next book in the series. My editor even told me that she made a point of letting the sales force know how word was spreading through the blogosphere. So it's not all just ego. There is some business benefit.

I did eventually ease up on it when I stopped finding a lot of new stuff and was having to wade through too many pages of old stuff to find new mentions, though I'll confess to doing a search or two around the new year in case I made someone's favorite books of the year list. I didn't find that Google Alerts was very helpful. They're kind of slow, so were often telling me about things I'd already found, and I know there's been a lot of stuff that they never alerted me about (and yeah, I guess that's the definition of obsessive self-Googling, when you're more comprehensive than Google alerts).

Posted by: Shanna Swendson at January 17, 2006 2:22 PM

Blog stats - yes... very addicting! And a better gauge of readership than comments, which are perhaps more directly tied to ego, as in, "Does no one want to talk to me? I was pretty sure that was an interesting post. Anyone? I've refreshed the page once every five seconds for the past ten minutes, but still no comments. Is anyone there?"

I, of course, have NEVER done the above. :-)

But I wanted to comment again because I just read another post on Googling oneself and the apparently-coined term " Google-worthy." It's worth checking out (and it's not even on MY blog). You can find it here: http://frumesarah.blogspot.com/2006/01/are-you-google-worthy.html

Posted by: Sheyna Galyan at January 17, 2006 2:27 PM

Hi Joshilyn,

Yep, I have been using google alerts for months now. I'm always adding more alerts, too. Whenever I send a new column out, I make a google alert of it and this will tell me which websites my column ends up on...real cool. So, you're not alone..kinda nice to have them come right into your email box! Good luck with the book, girl...I love it!

Posted by: Dorothy at January 17, 2006 3:52 PM

I admit it. I google myself. I actually found a gorup tearing one of my blog entries apart once. I joined their forum and posted in reply to their comments on my writing. Was sort of fun. *snicker*

Will you go on tour for Between? Will you be here? Please say you will!!!

Posted by: Heather at January 17, 2006 10:44 PM

Now HERE'S something to be proud of: I google myself, my blog name, my boyfriend and all his ex-girlfriends. Furthermore, I google all my EX-boyfriends and all their ex-GIRLfriends. (A surprising number of them have run in 5Ks.)

Posted by: Marigoldie at January 19, 2006 9:20 AM

It was so freeing to read this ... I am one day away from my own official release date and I am self-Googling constantly. It's like a sickness. I hope someday I can be as strong as you and stop doing it. But the outlook is not good.

Posted by: Trudy at January 19, 2006 7:30 PM