Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Getting Organized

Bottom Line It For Me, Baby Version (200 Words Or Less):
The series based on content from my how-to reference book on self-publishing, The IndieAuthor Guide, marches on. I can't just copy and paste everything from the manuscript, because the thing is 300pp long and heavily illustrated besides. But I will present topics from the book to the extent of detail possible in a blog post. Note that I'm not covering editing, designing your own book cover, creating your brand or publishing to the Kindle here, since those topics are already presented on my website in the form of free pdf guides. I’ll include links to previous posts in the series here in the Bottom Line It section. So far, I've posted topics on Publishing Options, Rights, Royalties and Advances, What's the Deal With ISBNs And Bookstores, and Choosing A Publisher. Today's post is about Getting Organized.

Go On An' Run Yo Mouth, I Ain't Got Nuthin' But Time Version (Can't Promise It Won't Go On Forever):
Keeping your digital work organized is a critical but often overlooked step in successful authorship. As you work on a manuscript, you need your research, notes and drafts at your fingertips. When you begin iterations of revision, you need to keep tabs on the feedback you receive and make sure that feedback is readily available when you need it. After the manuscript is completely polished, proofed, and “locked” against further changes, you need to maintain separate ‘containers’ to hold the files for each type of release you intend to make available (i.e., POD, eBook, Kindle edition, etc.). Finally, you will want to archive all the files related to former works in progress, as you never know when those notes and ideas will come in handy as you work on some future project.

Hard Drive Housekeeping
It’s essential to set up an organized filing system for all of the writing-related files on your computer. This will save you a great deal of time and energy in the future, when any file related to any one of your manuscripts will be easy to locate with just a few mouse clicks. A well-organized, centrally-located filing system also simplifies and speeds the backup process---which of course, you’re doing regularly, right?

The question of specifically how to organize your files is a matter of personal preference, and what makes sense to you. Most people will have a top-level folder called “Writing,” “Manuscripts,” or something similar. Beneath that, some will create a separate folder for each different manuscript, using the manuscript’s title as the folder name, and then create sub-folders within each manuscript folder to hold each different type of file: rough drafts, notes and research, proofs, eBook versions, etc. Others will prefer to create folders for each different file type within the main, “Manuscripts” folder, and then place files for each different manuscript within the file type folders: all proof versions in the ‘Proofs’ folder, all eBook versions in the ‘eBooks’ folder, etc. etc. My own filing system is a combination of the two.

Within my Writing folder, I have a folder for Completed Manuscripts, Published Manuscripts and Works In Progress (WIPs). Within the Completed Manuscripts, Published Manuscripts and WIPs folders, there are subfolders for each manuscript. Within the Published MSs folder, there are subfolders for each different publisher/format. I also have a Web Presence – Promotion folder with subfolders to store all documents, notes and information related to my websites and promotional activities, organized by promotional activity type (i.e., a folder for press releases, one for each blog, one for my main website, etc.).

Within each manuscript folder in the Completed MSs and WIPs folders, I have subfolders for Correspondence, Current Version (for the most recent version of the manuscript, or in the case of published manuscripts, the final version), Drafts, Excerpts, Graphics (for cover art or any images appearing in the manuscript), Notes (for workshopping feedback) and Research. In setting up your own filing system, try to think in terms of how you will most often search for items it contains in the future.

Email Housekeeping
Just as on your hard drive, a logical, tidy email filing system will save you a lot of time and headaches when you’re desperate to locate a specific note, name or contact information. Just as with your hard drive filing system, your email filing system should be organized in a way that makes sense to you, but there are some overall guidelines that will probably make sense for everyone.

Typically, you correspond with many of the same people about all your different works and it may initially seem like a good idea to set up a separate folder for each of those people, containing all emails you send to, and receive from, each individual. However, if you set up your email files this way, when you need to find a specific email from Susan Editor about your My Super Fantastic Career manuscript it may not be easy to locate among all the other emails from Susan Editor pertaining to all your other manuscripts. I suggest creating a separate folder for each manuscript and storing all relevant correspondence accordingly. Separate folders can also be created for correspondence not specifically related to any particular manuscript. And don’t forget, you need to periodically archive and back up your email too!

At this point in The IndieAuthor Guide, there’s a chapter on Creating Your Brand. I won’t be covering that material here because it’s already available for free viewing and/or download on my website.

Next Time: DIY Formatting For POD, Part One

No comments: