While emailing my good friend, Anna, I realized that I have yet to cover the most vitally important part of being an Indie author: Your work. At this point, it doesn’t matter where you are in your self-publishing journey, every single word you type is GOLD.
Imagine that each sentence is a piece of merchandise in a store. It’s product. It’s part of your inventory. How many of you have decided to go a different direction in a plot, yet couldn’t bring yourself to delete what came before? You probably saved it somewhere else, just in case you could use it in another story, right? You do this because as a writer, you understand the value of your material. Not only is it the stock of your trade, but there’s no reason to throw away hours of your own hard work.
I’m going to share something with you that happened to me about 8 years ago. A virus attacked my computer and corrupted all of my files beginning with the letters A-J. That’s 10 letters of the alphabet worth of short stories, story ideas, plot outlines and most devastatingly – 2 completed novels. Not even my amazingly brilliant computer friends could salvage those files, because the virus hadn’t just deleted them, it had corroded them beyond repair.
I can’t even put into words the agonizing heartbreak of that loss. I’m a parent, so I won’t compare it to losing a child, but I thought I was going to lose my mind from the grief and worse: the knowledge that I was NEVER going to get any of it back. As fellow writers, I’m sure you could understand. I can never recapture those exact words, the endless hours of creation, the really amazing material – even to today, it strikes me whenever a random thought about one of those stories flutters through my mind. And my muse is a fickle bitch – she doesn’t want to focus on a story she’s already written before.
I have managed to rewrite one of the stories I lost – but knowing that it’s not the same, that there were undoubtedly ‘better’ pieces of dialogue or ‘better’ inner-monologue areas in the material I lost is enough to forever change my saving habits.
I don’t know what your saving habits are, but I’m here to advise you to SAVE everything on backup drives. Flash/thumb drives are relatively inexpensive these days and hold a lot of data. Backup all of your material to two drives – keep one with you to use on a regular basis and put the other in a fireproof safe or send it to someone who has one to hold for you. Another, easier step is to backup all of your material to an online storage space like these:
Dropbox: I use Dropbox and have never had to pay to upgrade it to a larger capacity, because there are a few things you can do to acquire more storage space – which they will offer once you’ve signed up for their Free option.
Amazon S3: This appears to be for HTML and other embedding objects only, so if you’re a whiz and have designed your own author website, you may want to look into saving all of that coding here. The bonus is you only pay for what you store – there’s no monthly flat fee.
Amazon Cloud: Like Dropbox and Google, there’s either so much data or so many free months you can sign up for with Amazon Cloud. Check them out for more details.
Google Cloud Storage: Offers the same monthly/data size options as Amaxon and Dropbox.
Google Docs: A completely FREE platform where you can create documents and forms to share with others, either publicly or by link invite only. It may also serve as a storage space, but I’m not 100% positive on that. All I know is the documents and forms you do create through Google Docs stay safely there online, no matter what happens to your computer.
BookFunnel: This is for already completed books, or other materials you would offer your readers via your author newsletter. You upload your book to their system (storage) and they allow readers to download whichever format they need without you having to worry about providing the different files (i.e. mobi, epub, PDF, etc.) They take care of that for you. A good option for those of you with or planning to have e-commerce websites, where readers can buy directly from you rather than from Amazon or Smashwords ( giving you 100% royalties if/when you can get buyer traffic to your site).
It takes a matter of seconds to save yourself years of heartache. I don’t know how the other systems work, but Dropbox is fully integrated with my computer. I’m always signed in, so it’s one click of a button to completely update all of the files I already have saved there. If you already backup your stories – Good for you, please ignore this entire post! 🙂
♥ In short: PLEASE, please, please back up all of your hard work wherever you can and set up whatever routine works best for you, whether it’s once a week or after you make any changes – that’s entirely up to you. Of course, saving as often as possible is the surest way to guarantee all of your material is preserved. Easier said than done, I know! Life happens and it’s easy to forget, but I hope these links provide some help for you along the way.