by Sherrie Wilkolaski

When people want to search from something online they immediately think of and they will probably say they are going to “Google” something rather than say they are going to “search” for it.  Google offers a variety of free tools that can help authors to position themselves to sell more books and one of these tools is Google Alerts.

What is an alert?

An alert is an email notification that you set-up based on the criteria (key words) you want to monitor.  For example, if you want to monitor information about your favorite sports team, movie star or even your favorite author, Google Alerts handles the search for you.  You log into your Google account, set-up the key words you want to key an eye out for, and Google will email you the results either as they come in (real time) or in a digest (in bulk, daily or weekly).

Setting-up your Google Alerts.

You need to have a Google account to use this free online tool.  It is as simple as going to this page: and typing in key words to what you want Google to alert you on.

Go directly to Google for detailed instructions on how to set-up your Google Alerts, just be sure to keep reading on for your 5 tips.

How Google Alerts Can Help an Author Sell More Books.

Knowledge is power and having the information you need, right at your fingertips is what will help any author get in front of their competition, be more readily available to the media and marketing opportunities and will help them have a better understanding of where their book stands in the market.

Here are the top 5 ways an author should use their Google Alerts:

  1. Monitor online activity that is tied to the book title and author name.  Authors should set-up a Google Alert for both their book title and their author name.  This will monitor things like new book reviews that are posted, online discussions, blog article mentions and any other activity that is tied to their book title.  These types of alerts should be monitored in real time, so that if something is posted, the author can address it almost immediately.  For example, if there is an online discussion about an should On a regular basis authors ask me how they track what is going on with their book marketing, reviews and potential online discussions about their books.  It is very simple.
  2. Follow the competition.  Authors should monitor the top 5-10 competing books in their genre.  Watching where and when your competition is posting, being interviewed and what readers are saying about their books, will give you an incredible list of resources to help you better market and promote your work.  If you find that your competition just picked up a guest blog post on a website that is ideal for your book, use that information to get out there and get your own guest blog invite. There is no end to what you can do with competitive details.
  3. Look out for current events relating to your book topic.  If you’ve written about a sailing, for example, you should be looking for current events that are tied to that subject.  Think outside of the box and use your story, you book and genre to connect yourself to a media story that is already in flight.  Keep current on the media coverage and blogs that are talking about your subject matter, then make the move and jump into the discussion or reach out to the media to let them know you’re available for an interview!
  4. Watch out for future opportunities.  Use Google Alerts to think ahead and be on the lookout for media queries for author interviews and PR opportunities.  It is typical to find other authors, bloggers and media personalities posting via their own sites and social media networks for authors to interview for future articles, interviews, etc.  It’s usually first come, first served so if you are positioning yourself as an expert in your field or genre, set-up Google Alerts to notify you.  Examples: “vegan cookbook authors” or “healthcare experts”
  5. Local marketing and PR events.  Using Google Alerts to get you better synced up with your local media and writers communities is a wonderful way to put yourself “in the know” and keep you out in front of the completion and giving you a greater chance to be called on as the local author expert.  Use your key words and add your location to the alerts.  Another way to use location is to help you find opportunities that tie to specific regions that you’re interested in marketing to.  If you have a book written about Montana, but life in California, it makes sense to focus on both your local CA and Montana areas, for potential happenings.  You can always call into a radio station for an interview from anywhere.

Google Alerts can be an author’s secret weapon for tracking their online exposure as well as helping to build their online platform, if you make the time to use the content you’re receiving to your advantage.  Let Google do the search work for you, it will save you time and will help you find information that you may not have found on your own.

Do you use Google Alerts?  Tell us about it…


Sherrie Wilkolaski

About Sherrie Wilkolaski

As the founder and president of Author’s Boutique and PubSmart Sherrie Wilkolaski is a Renaissance woman of the publishing industry. She brings to the writer’s table an effective fusion of marketing proficiency, best-selling accolades and a background in journalism. Her international public speaking credentials and social media savvy provide independent authors and traditional publishers a multifaceted strategy to achieving success. Sherrie’s specialized insight into the mechanics of the publishing process resulted in the formation of her distinctive boutique publishing house style, which bridges a client’s status from aspiring writer to published author. As a best-selling author, Sherrie has first-hand knowledge of the creative writing experience and the challenges involved in printing, packaging, marketing, and selling books. She has effectively harnessed the benefits of social media and site promotion to maximize an independent author’s circulation and public readership. In 2011, Sherrie co-founded traditional publishing house Pressque Publishing and is a consultant and publishing services broker for a number of small to mid-sized publishers and printers, including HP, and Infinity Publishing. She is columnist for Press Pass, Publisher and Editor of Luxe Beat Magazine and a featured blogger on a variety of industry publications. She is the former Director of Publishing Services at Lulu. Sherrie’s new radio program, PubSmart, is launching later this year. Sherrie sits on the board of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and was a featured speaker at the 2013 Annual Conference in Hawaii presenting, “The Power of a Book”: How to Use a Book to Enhance Your Career/Credibility as a Journalist”. A global conference speaker, she addressed members of the HP Dscoop Graphic Arts Asia Conference in Beijing, China in 2013. Sherrie is the author of best-selling book, “How to Start a Wedding Planning Business” and the popular coffee table book series, “Cookies and Cocktails”. Her much-anticipated book “How to Bulletproof Your Book” is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2013. Sherrie is a broadcast journalism alumnus of SUNY College at Buffalo and is a 2012 graduate of the Yale Publishing Course.