Friday, January 7, 2011

What Every Author Should Know About Saving Book Files

It’s easy to get confused and lose files when you’re writing a book, but there is a way to keep track of every thought you have, every draft you write, and every improvement you make.

  1. The first step is to create a file folder called BOOK FILES or the title of your book.
  2. Step two is to create folders (within the BOOK FILES folder) for each chapter and give it a simple name, such as CHAPTER 1 and perhaps a keyword to remind you of the subject.
  3. Finally, inside the chapter folders you will keep your drafts, as you write them.
Imagine you are writing a book on communicating within an organization, and one of the chapters is on meetings. Within your folder called BOOK FILES or COMMUNICATING is a folder called CHAPTER 1: MEETINGS. Within that file folder is a document titled “Meetings,” draft #1, and the date you wrote it. This is how you write and save the document:
  • Meetings_1_041108.

Now, let’s say you are going to make changes to that document, but you don’t want to lose your original version. Before you write a single word, save it as Meetings_2_051109. Then, make your changes to the new draft. When you are finished, save the latest version. Within your MEETINGS folder your now have two files:

  • Meetings_1_041108
  • Meetings_2_051109

If you are doing a lot of rewriting, you may accumulate numerous drafts of each chapter. In the case of ten drafts, for example, your MEETINGS file folder would look like this:

  • Meetings 1_041108
  • Meetings 2_051109
  • Meetings 3_052008
  • Meetings 4_052508
  • Meetings 5_062508
  • Meetings 6_070208
  • Meetings 7_071108
  • Meetings 8_071208
  • Meetings 9_071608
  • Meetings10_072008

Why bother going to all this trouble? The answer is that you never know when you are going to want to refer to or use something you’ve written weeks or even months ago. If you had simply typed right over your words, they would be gone forever. Don’t imagine you will be able to remember what you wrote because, after 10 drafts of one chapter, believe me, you won’t. When the book is finished and in print, you can throw away your old drafts if you want to. I tend to keep them, however. I simply burn a CD and file the whole book away. “Better safe than sorry” may be a cliché, but it is one to live by when you are an author.