To google or not to google

A few folks seem to be under the impression that my last post was advising people not to look themselves up on the interwettys.

No way.

I not only google, I also icerocket, blogpulse, technorati and feedster. And I don’t just look up my own name, I looks up Scott’s, and other friends as well.

What can I say? I like to know what’s being said. Also bad reviews don’t upset me that much. Well, bad reviews of my books are getting more and more duck’s backy, but I do get irate at some reviews of Scott’s and other dear friends’ work. And do not diss Angela Carter!

I used to leave comments saying thanks for good and interesting reviews, or answering questions of the when-is-the-next-book-coming-out, is-she-really-Australian, is-it-true-she’s-married-to-Scott-Westerfeld variety. But I stopped cause it mostly just seemed to freak people out. “Oh my God! I wrote something about an author and then they showed up!” I understand that feeling. I’ve been deeply freaked when authors I’ve written about have emailed me. Freaked and gratified in equal measures.

When my first book came out I would spend hours and hours a day tracking down even the teeniest reference to it. I mean, I had a book out! My dream had come true! I had to know what people thought of it. I was pretty upset by some of what I found. I’d never been reviewed before and, well, ouch.

But I’m still glad I searched. Because the more bad reviews I read the more innured to them I became. From a bad review putting me in a funk for days, it now makes me pissy for around ten minutes. Unless it’s a funny bad review—“Magic or Madness is like a bad Australian episode of Charmed“—in which case the pique doesn’t outlast the reading of the review.

But then I have never come across really nasty attacks on me personally. I imagine that’s a whole other thing. I have read such attacks on friends of mine. And livid is not the word. But I would always rather know than not know.

But some authors freak at positive reviews with one snark (“overwrought”) and lose days and days of writing while they stew. They would be better off not googling. If not knowing is what you need then go for it. Ignorance can indeed be bliss.

When my agent is shopping a book of mine, she tells me nothing until a sale is imminent. That’s how I likes it. Being informed about every single rejection buggers me up because I start obsessing about the non-sale of that book, and not the writing of the current book. Not good.

Scott and other author friends think that’s nuts. They reckon the not knowing would drive them up the wall.

Whatever. You need what you need. If googling helps go at it. If it don’t don’t.


  1. Anonymous on #

    The google people say you can’t use “google” as a verb unless you’re specifically using theiri search engine.

  2. Anonymous on #

    You are not supposed to use google as a verb unless it refers specifically to using the google search engine.

  3. gwenda on #

    Uh-oh, the google police are on your trail, Justine! Go dark!

  4. Jeff VanderMeer on #


    Don’t you find google searching yourself also leads to opportunities. I’ve found comments by bookstore managers, editors, and other things of that nature that have led to teaching gigs, bookstore signings, and much else. I think of it as maximizing connectivity with the rest of the world.


  5. Justine on #

    The two annonymous: I will mend my ways immediately.

    Gwenda: The mind boggles.

    Jeff Vandermeer: Absolutely. The good totally outweighs the bad.

  6. Delia Sherman on #

    That’s the way to think of it, all right. Innoculation for the over-sensitive. The first “there’s too much gay sex in this” reviews for FOTK made me mad, but after a while I got used to them. It said way more about the reviewers, after all, than it did about the book. And anybody who was going to be driven away by such a comment probably wouldn’t like it anyway. Ditto the “This isn’t enough like Swordspoint” complaints. If I thought of them as Reader Beware comments instead of reviews, they made lots more sense.

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