So you’ve searched Google and Go.Daddy to determine that your author name is available as a domain name. Great. But before you buy a domain name and begin building the foundation for your electronic home, open a Google account and set up an administrative email address through Gmail, using your author name. This is the name you will use consistently across all communication formats—print and electronic—as an author.

Voila. You have completed Baby Step Two.

Gmail is free and easy to set up. Use it strictly for administrative purposes, separate from your personal email or an email account set up at your new domain address. Why? Because you need a distinct and secure email address to use whenever you need to provide an address for the development, administration and management of your electronic persona as an author. When you choose a content management system (like WordPress) to design your website, this is the email you’ll provide. When you set up an RSS feed for your blog, this is the email you’ll provide. When you… well, you get the idea.

From Google, you should also get a unique API key. What is that? It’s the thing Google and other search engines look for in code to find you and retrieve your information. This “key” opens up important programs you will use to build the walls and stairs of your new cyber home. It is an application interface (API) key you must keep private and secure, like your social security number. Be sure to write it down and keep it handy in the coming weeks as you build your online presence.

With the nuts and bolts of your new cyberhome out of the way, I want to share some useful resources for working writers and authors. Google offers a variety of very powerful, free tools:

  • Google Scholar: Access academic references and citations in support of your research  much like JSTOR or ProQuest. Google Scholar is an invaluable search engine for in-depth, subject-specific information.
  • Google Maps:  Looking to research your story’s landscape and create a sense of place? Use Google Maps—especially with advanced search options— for inspiration.
  • Google Translate:  An imperfect, but swift gadget for foreign language translation.
  • Google Alerts:  Advises you of new information on your topic and current publications in your field. By selecting relevant key words, you can be notified by email of recent references to new content.
  • Google Docs: Helps you share draft documents with others for editorial review and feedback. Your documents are also available to you wherever you access the internet.

This is just the tip of the Google iceberg. In future blogs, we’ll dive deeper into how your Google account will help you build your audience and platform.

In the meantime, play around with Google services and see what works for you as an author right now. You don’t have to do everything at once. Unlike Baby Step One, Step Two has large potential. You will return again and again to the Google products in your author toolkit.

We at Swenson Book Development, LLC  use all of the above features and more, like Google Calendar. We have also joined Google + and look forward to trying out the new videoconferencing feature called  Google Hangouts.

Some of you may already have an active Google account. If this is the case, find your API key and stay tuned. If you already have a personal Gmail account, you may consider creating a separate and distinct account for your administrative purposes. While waiting for the rest of us, check out some of the Google features you haven’t explored or fully utilized yet. Otherwise, get that Gmail /Google account activated now so that next week you’ll be ready to think about internet service providers, webhosting, and the aesthetic of your author platform.

Maxim #3: Google. It’s more than a search engine.

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