Sunday, March 16, 2008

You, Your Thank You Notes and Google

Your mother would have insisted you use Google Alerts if they'd been around when you were a kid. Why? Because they are you first line of defense for writing thank you notes.

And you all know how important I think thank you notes are! You use them to keep in touch with your valuable readers and to keep networks with your editors and fellow authors alive. Yes, you also continue to send them to your great grandmother who sends you a $1 bill in your birthday card, too!

Alerts is a tool that notifies you when something you need to know about appears on line. It knows what you want to know because you tell it.
That makes it an excellent research tool, too.

Here's how you use Alerts for both thanks yous and research:

Go to http://www.google.com/alerts to create a Google Alert for the subject you are interested in. It might be your name or your book title or some of the keywords for your next book. Be sure to use quotation marks around the full phrase you want. Example: Google searches for "This Is the Place" for me because that's the title of my novel. I don't want it to notify me every time the word "place" comes up. Or, yikes! You can imagine! Or the single word "This."

Google then scans stories, blogs, websites, videos and user groups -- everywhere! -- to find information related to "This Is the Place" and then e-mails me when they find it.

This saves me time because:

~I don't have to do that "self-Googling" thing one really should do occasionally.
~I don't miss anything or don't miss much.
~I can learn when things that relate to "This Is the Place" are appearing so I can pitch feature editors, radio producers, etc. (Google gets news on things like polygamy, women's issues, etc. to me fast!

By the way, when you get a link from Google--even one that doesn't seem directly related to your book--pay attention! It can give you lots more information that you might notice at first. Things like the name of a staff writer interested in your area of expertise, or a blogger or niche magazine you didn't know about.

Put on you Alert hat and be Alert! Let Google help you do it!


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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