Nothing makes you feel quite as ordinary as setting up a Google alert on yourself.
I did this years ago, when my first novel came out, to make sure that I didn’t miss any reviews that came out. An alert is very handy for things like that. But it also picks up all those other Claire Booths. Turns out that my name is a dime a dozen.
One of them I’ve been aware of for some time—one of Great Britain’s premier opera singers is a soprano named Claire Booth. She, understandably, also has a social media presence. There are occasions when her fans don’t look too closely when they tag her. I’ve been touted for appearing at music festivals and thanked for my stunning vocal performances. (If you’ve ever heard me try to sing, you’ll know how hilarious this is.) I love when this happens. I feel like I’m keeping up with her career.
While that’s funny, having another Claire Booth lurking out there can be the opposite. Someone with my name wrote a book last year. It’s categorized under “motivational business management” on Amazon. It pops up right next to my books in the search result, muddying the waters for my readers. I had to jump through hoops with the folks at Amazon to get them to remove this book from my author page, where they’d put it without asking, naturally.
Now, all three of us are jockeying for placement on Google. Photos of the all three of us come up on the right side of the page. All three web sites are listed in the search results. If someone’s looking for my books (or her opera recordings, for that matter), I hope they stick with it long enough to figure out who’s who.
The only good thing about our three way tug-of-war is that it’s knocked Clare Boothe Luce clean off the first page of results. Back when my very first book came out in 2008, she was the first one to come up, even though her name is spelled differently. She was a congresswoman in the 1940s, a playwright, an ambassador, and the wife of Time magazine founder Henry Luce. My information had a hard time breaking through her substantial presence.
That’s the search results, though. A Google alert dives much deeper, finding mentions in things like newspaper articles and company press releases.
Other Claire Booths I’ve discovered include: a relative of someone killed in the Manchester, England, concert bombing; a teenage competitive curler from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada; a senior sales manager for Broadsheet Media in Sydney, Australia; a pediatric immunology expert in London; and the mother of a dog-attack victim near Glasgow, Scotland.
The most recent blip on my radar came this week when Claire Booth, a day nursery manager from Lincoln, England, who was vacationing in France, told The Guardian how she felt about Brexit (against it, thank you very much).
What I love about these alerts is that they encompass everything. An ordinary job move. High school athletic achievements. Tragedy. Success. Political opinions. You know, life. So I’m going to make the active choice to keep enjoying the alerts and not dwell on the first-page-search-results confusion. Who knows, in a couple of years, all three of us might be swept aside by the Canadian curler.