|Image by Akaitori (CC BY-SA 2.0)|
When you’re writing a book, you can generate a lot of files. I don’t know about you, but I have this overwhelming impulse to save every file version, back up every version, and to be safe, back up the back-ups. It’s no wonder, then, that files multiply like rabbits. And when that happens, so much can go wrong … like working on the wrong file, or overwriting the most current version of a book chapter—one that you spent three hours agonizing over. Kill me now.
In a previous post, I described 6 principles for managing book files. Since then, Carla and I have consulted our colleagues—editors from the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Editors’ Association of Canada—to see if we could glean some additional tips for you.
How do you manage your files? we asked. Here is how they answered:
1. Have a system.
Each file that you work on will need a label. And you’ll have less trouble finding files if you label your files consistently, and in a systematic way. So, how do you label your files? Read on…
2. Initial them.
If more than one person is working on your book files (if you’re collaborating with a co-author or if you’re working with beta reviewers or an editor), have each person attach their initials to the file name after they’ve worked on the file.
BestbookeverCKM_CD.docx (author, editor)
3. Date them.
Sure, most computer operating systems will include a date tag with each file you create, but not everyone knows where to look for this option. To determine the most recent file at a glance, include the date in your file name.
BestbookeverCKM080913.docx (day, month, year)
…or some other iteration that makes sense to you.
4. Number them.
If you’re working on a book-length work, or a course, you may want to split your project into chapters or modules. Number each chapter or module alphanumerically, so you can find it quickly.
5. Colour-code them.
Some editors colour-code files for each book project they’re working on. You can too. If you have a Mac, you have a built-in option of colour coding your files (lucky you!). If you have a PC, you can install software that allows you to colour code your files:
6. Back them up.
Now that you have your files labeled, back them up. No, really. Do it. Editors have lots of ways of backing up their files. Choose a method that works for you:
There is no one right way to manage your files. The key is to come up with a system that makes sense to you, and that will prevent you from losing your work (and your mind).
Many thanks to our editing colleagues at the EAC and the EFA for sharing tips on file management.
Weathering a File Storm: 6 Principles for Managing Book Files
How to Avoid Amateur Writing Mistakes
From Manuscript to Published: 8 Steps to Publishing Your Ebook
Ramping Up to Writing: Dealing With Procrastination