Reading · Writing

How often do you google yourself?

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.

Results may vary.
Results may vary.

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… myΒ 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.

Photo Credit: Mark Lynch
Photo Credit: Mark Lynch

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?

40 thoughts on “How often do you google yourself?

  1. I loved this post. I too Google myself since I’ve released my first book at the beginning of this year. I started off doing it nearly every day as I was curious – now it’s not so much but I think I want to get into the weekly habit. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Googling yourself and like you’ve said it’s a good thing for us authors and artists to do.

    So far I’ve not found anyone who has stolen my work but it is always a fear and a risk.
    I am glad that girl took it all down and deleted her account. It’s a shame she didn’t do a public apology though!

    1. I’m glad you agree! πŸ˜€ When an author goes “public”, it’s important to stay on top of things when it comes to your books and image.

      Good that nobody stole your work. And yeah, I was disappointed too. I ended up creating a post myself so that her readers know what happened, and they felt tricked. So she didn’t just hurt the writer, she hurt the readers too. 😦

  2. Oh my G. What will you do, Zen? That’s really so bad of her to plagiarize any work, be it fan fiction or not! Hug to you, dear… I don’t google myself, but sometimes I google my blog post πŸ™‚

    By the way, I have a new site now so please follow and support me there, too. I would love to see you around!

    1. Well it’s all taken care of now. πŸ™‚ I doubt she’ll try to steal someone else’s work in a hurry. Googling your posts is a good idea too!

      And followed. πŸ˜‰

  3. Like you I think Googling is important and I do it all the time too–I write under different renditions of my name–so far no problems but it is interesting to see yourself listed
    I am sorry someone took your story–glad you took care of it — what is wrong with people?

    1. I like to see where I’m listed too! =D And I really don’t know what they’re thinking. I guess they just want their 15 minutes of fame? =/

        1. I suppose they think that since it’s fanfiction and they’re not getting any profit, then it’s all “okay”. Oh well.

  4. I only ever Google my blog when I’m already on Google, and I’m too lazy to move my cursor over to the address, but I think you’re right–it’s important! One of the great things about publishing our writing online is that so many people can see/share it, but it also opens it up for plagiarism. I’m glad you caught that person who was passing your work off as her own! It takes a lot of nerve to steal someone’s intellectual property so blatantly.

    1. Exactly! Just as easy as it is for people to view your work, it’s easy for them to plagiarize it. And I know, right? It makes me wonder how long she thought she could keep it up, especially since she was plagiarizing 19 other writers. =/

  5. I google myself every now and again, although I’ve never found anything of mine that’s been plagiarized by using this method. Twice now some of fanfiction has been copied, and once someone was using my modelling photos and claiming themselves as the photographer. Each time I was alerted by viewers who knew my work and let me know about the problem themselves. I take care about what I put out on the internet and where, but you can’t possibly protect everything 100%.

    1. Yep, that’s the sad truth. I’m grateful for those viewers who are honest enough to notify you of such infringements. Twice it has happened with me. If they hadn’t told me I wouldn’t have been aware of people stealing my work. I guess we just have to try our best in such cases!

  6. I occasionally google myself and my stories, Zen – but not nearly enough. You’ve reminded me that I should be doing it more often.

    It’s just terrible that you were plagiarized – I’m so glad you managed to put a stop to it. Kudos to you, my friend, and big *hugs*! πŸ˜€

  7. Really liked this post PM! You almost always write about topics that basically anyone around the globe can relate to, making them so enjoyable! I on occasion Google myself; I don’t have a particular schedule (i.e, do so once a month, et al), but every so often I just decide that I want to see how many hits come up when my name is put into the site. I often find it so interesting how it varies frequently; one day there’s more links to work that you’ve done than you can poke a stick at and the next time there’s not a one. I more often than not put in other search terms, such as titles of poems or stories that I have posted or had published online to see how accessible they are. Not too long ago I wrote a poem about a certain someone, and if you type their name into Google, my poem is the fourth hit, whilst a month before I had to travel across a few pages before finding it. Very interesting!
    Also, that story about how you stopped the person plagiarizing your work – very awesome! You totally showed ’em! Clearly Wonder Woman is still very much alive and kicking!

    1. Oh my. I don’t know how I missed this comment. Really sorry, Derek!

      Thank you for saying that. =D I like these topics; they’re great for allowing conversation. It’s interesting to see what sort of results come up when you look your name up, and it’s definitely pleasing when a name or a poem or otherwise is among the first hits! πŸ™‚

      Haha, thanks. She had to be dealt with. πŸ˜‰ Also… PM?

  8. I Google myself about once every 3-4 months. I think it’s a good idea, especially if you want to maintain a professional appearance when building a career. Once I found my name popping up among a large paragraph of gibberish on a website dedicated to sewing machines. I emailed the owner of the website, who later informed me their website had been overrun with spam. The spammer cut and pasted lines of text from all over the web in between links to whatever websites they were trying to drive traffic to. I think the owner was grateful and she not only cleaned up the site, but beefed up security on her site.

    I think your situation where you found someone copying your work highlights why its important to Google yourself (and your work) periodically.

    1. Yikes. I think I’ve seen something similar with one website. I simply thought it was a spam website, it didn’t occur to me that it might’ve been overrun by spam. You did a good thing!

      And yes, if I hadn’t that girl might have been still taking all the credit for my work. =/

  9. I’ve set up a weekly news email from google that sends me any new web pages with my name or part of my name.

    I do male art so a lot of it gets “borrowed” with no link back to my website. The real eye opener for me was doing a google image search – wow! I stopped doing that and just became ok with the fact that people like my work and they will use it however they want in today’s world.

    : ) Michael

    1. Ooh that’s a great idea! I should look into that. πŸ˜€

      Well, maybe you might be all right with them using it. But would you be fine with them taking the credit for your art?

      1. Good point – I would certainly not be happy with them saying it’s their work!!!!

        I just had someone contact me because they were trying to figure out what type of flower Liar’s Tongue was. It doesn’t exist – It’s a Photoshop work of mine. I told them that and they were so surprised as it’s exploded on Pinterest and flower blogs – I had no idea!

        Liar's Tongue

        1. Well I can see why it gained so much popularity. It does look like it could be an actual plant! Nice work. πŸ˜€

  10. I googled myself after reading your post,i am disappointed,except from my facebook account there was nothing else.I guess I am not famous :p

  11. I don’t blame you in the slightest for checking up on your work. If I knew that one of my photo’s were used by another as their own – I would be enraged. Same goes for ANY content or story I produce. It is not anyone elses for the taking. My effort went in to it and it belongs to me. And if anyone had the audacity to call it their own work – I might see it as flattery from one angle, but fury from another especially if they were paid for it. I would not hesitate a court order. So I’m totally with you on this.
    ~ Victoria

    1. Exactly! I was absolutely furious when I saw that girl taking all the credit, even more furious for the sake of all the readers she was fooling. I’m glad I was able to show people the truth.

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