Some people shy away from that question, usually because they do not want others to think they have an ego; after all, the practice itself is called ego surfing, or even vanity searching, because of the assumption that you have to be vain to search for yourself online, but it’s actually really important, especially if you’re an author or an artist and have published copyrighted content.
Personally, I google myself on a weekly basis. I search for my name, my aliases, my published novels, my to-be published novels and even the fanfiction stories I wrote many years ago. I’m not ashamed to admit it. My work is important to me, and I want to make sure that nobody is abusing it or using it for their own personal gain at my personal expense. Plus, occasionally you may come across something nice that you hadn’t been aware of before… a little mention here, a little compliment there, a review you never noticed… it’s all pretty interesting.
Recently I was contacted by someone who told me that one of my stories was being copied and passed as the work of someone else on another website. I used to search for this particular story often since it was a huge hit and sometimes huge fanfiction hits get plagiarized. Lately, however, I’ve been immensely busy and neglected my Google routine, and one plagiarist managed to get away with pretending that my story was hers for five weeks. People were complimenting her and telling her how much they loved her… my story. I was furious.
Not only that, but each one of her 20 stories was plagiarized. I recognized a couple of titles, and further research removed any shred of doubt I had. I was furious. Long story short, I sent her a message demanding the removal of the stories and a public apology, and within the hour the girl had upped and deleted every single story and her account. Revenge is sweet.
Some might say, “What’s the big deal? It’s only fanfiction. Technically, it’s not even fully yours to begin with.” Maybe the characters aren’t mine, but the plot still is. I am free to use the plot again and rewrite it in an original story with an original cast. It’s true that my fanfics were cheesy and sometimes over the top, but they are dear to me and I spent a lot of time writing them. One even has more than 90,000 words.
It’s not just about fanfiction anyway. First it’s fanfiction, then next you may find someone stealing your blog posts, reviews, short stories, poems, art, maybe even ripping off your novel ideas. It is my worry that someone will find an unpublished plot of mine and use it as their own; after all, if you’re an obscure author, chances are great that no two people will read your book and the book of the plagiarist. I don’t think my books are so great that people will indeed try to steal them, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and so I google myself repeatedly.
Do you google yourself? How often? Do you think it’s a bad or a justified habit? Did anyone ever steal your work?