Google is a Girl’s Best Friend (or Take Care of Your Name)

Or is it?

Like many who are trying to maintain a strong web presence, I occasionally “google” myself.  “Joleene Naylor” used to bring up roughly two pages of results that were mostly me. I can now find a majority of relevant links through page fifteen, and some scattered after that. So, yay! I’m turning up on search engines. So?

So, fifteen pages of results. That’s a lot. And guess what? Not all of them have to do with my art or my writing, and even more interesting, some of them are from years ago. Starting on page four, you can find old forum posts I made on a Harry Potter group, some as long ago as four years, as well as some random comments I left on someone else’s MySpace,  a photo I uploaded to Wikipedia in 2007, a petition I signed,  and a paper doll contest I entered in 2005, among other things.

Why am I mentioning this? Because as a writer who is trying to sell not only their books, but themselves as well, this is something you need to think about.  Before you post anything to a public place, you should stop and think “Do I want my readers to see this?”  Because, as long as it’s viewable to the public, you should automatically assume that the public can see it.  And sometimes, there are things you just don’t want them to see.

Of course, I’m not advising that you should drain away your personality, or give up on groups that you love just because your readers might disagree with them, but if your internet pastimes are really that contrary to your books and audience, then maybe you should look into a pen name.  For instance, it’s going to be pretty hard to market your Christian books if you spend a lot of time on an atheist forum, or to sell your romance novels if you spent a significant amount of time bashing the genre a few years ago. And yes, what you did back in 2005 can come back to haunt you.

Long article short, before you publish under a name – whether your real name or an assumed name you’ve been using – think about what you’ve done with that name.  And, once you’ve got your name, take care of it.  As the “old” adage goes , “if you don’t want your mother to see it, then don’t write it down.” Or, in this case, “If you don’t want your readers to see it, don’t post it online.”

Try google searching for your author name. Did the results surprise you?

6 Comments

  1. Yep. All sorts of things pop up, and things done way back then does come back, like old books I published that I no longer want to admit to. Books I’ve reviewed have also popped up, which surprised me. If I had any idea that my books would have taken off as they did, I would have opted for a pen name from the beginning when I started writing romance novels since my early works don’t reflect the romance genre at all. Live and learn.

    If someone is starting out though, it’s best to consider what image you want out there. Great word of warning!

    1. Yep! I went ahead and used my name because I’ve never taken any anti-vampire/thriller or romance stands anywhere, so I felt I was safe. I really haven’t done much that was controversial, that’s still around. I was on a political forum back in the early 2000’s, but it was deleted, and my books aren’t political , anyway, so it wouldn’t matter. The only “dark spot” I could have is some really nasty blogs at the beginning of my Myspace blogroll that I may delete one of these days. but I always think, “who’s going to go back to them, anyway?” and if they do and refuse to read my book because I went off on someone over personal stuff… well… I have the same attitude you do on that 😉

      1. If someone is going to take the time to go that far back on your myspace blog, then that person does not have a life and deserves what you give them. LOL

        1. That’s what I figure – or else they’re a stalker and maybe they need to see the evil side, LOL!

  2. Jamie D. says:

    I have good results for my name on Google…and I’ve worked hard to cultivate that. Interestingly, anything I posted that may have been controversial way back when was always under an alias – I never used my real name until I got serious about writing/publishing.

    Now I’m facing the task of “building” a couple of pen names for separate genres…and as you suggest, I’m putting a lot of thought into everything that those names are attached to in order to build the proper background for them.

    1. I think an alias is always a good idea, unless you want it connected to what you’re doing professionally. It can save a lot of trouble later. My problem is always that I start out with an alias, but I think I’m so clever I want everyone to know it’s me. *shakes head*

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