Thanks to everyone who wished me and my wife happy anniversary yesterday. We did have a good one.
I promised to talk today about how to manage all those pesky drafts of your novel on your hard drive. It’s really not complicated. The idea is that you always want to be able to get hold of any version of your novel, and yet not have the old stuff clogging up the new.
I organize my hard drive as follows. In my Documents folder, I have three main subfolders:
The Archives folder contains stuff from years ago–anything that I’m not currently working on or likely to work on ever again. I back this up to CD periodically, and also back it up to my iPod every few months, or whenever I move a bunch of new data to it. This folder doesn’t change very often, and the only changes I make are to add new stuff.
The Friends folder contains anything that friends send me that needs short term storage. Mostly, it contains electronic versions of novels. I don’t back this up at all. My feeling is that people only send me stuff that they have backed up all over the place. And it’s usually just rough drafts of things.
The Personal folder contains all my current stuff, including email, financial stuff, web sites, internet products, consulting jobs. And it also contains a special folder called Books. This is a very important folder. It holds all the books I’ve ever written and anything I’m working on now.
I back up the Personal folder to my iPod, but then I also back up certain of the other folders elsewhere as redundant backup. For example, I have a folder named “Critical Records” that contains all my financial stuff, such as tax records, etc. This gets backed up to a USB Flash Drive that I carry in my pocket all the time. I also back it up to online storage.
The Books folder is quite large, and is backed up to online storage. When I start a new book, I create a new folder inside the Books folder. For example, for my novel DOUBLE VISION, I have a folder named “Double Vision”. Inside that folder, I have a bunch of other folders.
One of those folders is named “Snowflake” and contains a Snowflake analysis of the book. (Actually, several Snowflake documents, since I produce several, and I update them as the story develops.)
There is another folder named “Proposal” which contains every version of the proposal for the book.
There is another folder named “Research” where I save all the online research for the book, including web archives, pictures, spreadsheets, pictures, etc.
Now we get to the point of today’s blog post. There are also several folders named “Draft 1”, “Draft 2”, etc. Each of these contains a series of Word documents. I use a naming convention that will make sure the files are in order. For this book, the naming convention is: “Double Vision Part1.doc”, etc. The book has four parts, so there are four documents.
Some of the folders have comments that my critiquers sent me for that draft. For example, The “Draft 4” folder has the Word document for the draft, along with a couple of folders for the two critiquers who reviewed this draft.
Now that the book is out of print, there is a new folder named “Out of Print Docs” that contains the electronic version of the text that I bought back from the publisher. If and when I decide to republish this book using some sort of POD service, I can easily find the files I need.
Here is my procedure for doing revisions. When I write the first draft, I write it straight through and save the files in the “Draft 1” folder. When it’s done and I’m ready to start revising, I duplicate the folder, rename the copy to be “Draft 2” and delete any files inside it that are irrelevant to the task of revision. Then I just start revising the Word files in “Draft 2,” secure in the knowledge that I have a copy of “Draft 1” elsewhere.
As noted, I backup my Books folder to multiple places–my iPod and my online storage service. When I leave the house, if I’m not taking my laptop, I take the iPod. If the house burns down, I’ll have either the laptop or the iPod AND I’ll have the Books info redundantly saved online somewhere. Call me over-cautious, but my books are important to me, and I want to make sure that it’ll take an Xtremely bad run of luck to lose all copies.