Bad things can happen to your manuscript when you’re not looking. I know this because I’ve had bad things happen to my work when I wasn’t looking…and it cost me.
I learned my lesson the hard way…so that you don’t have to:
Here’s the short and sweet version too:
So how DO we protect our manuscripts from horrible things and not-so-nice people?
Step 1.) Save your files in multiple places.
What happens when your computer fries? You lose everything, that’s what. What happens when your only copy of something is on your external hard drive that just stopped working? Say buh bye to all your work. Or what happens if you have a fire or your house floods?
Saving your manuscripts (and all important files) in different locations is so important.
Once I lost an entire hundred page document, but because I had it on two other thumb drives and a different external hard drive, I was able to get my most recent save and I only lost a few pages.
Get external hard drives, use cloud drives, and save copies at your mother’s house. Don’t risk it.
Step 2. Organize Your Files
You need to be able to find your files on your computer, and you need to be able to find them immediately. When someone asks (like a publisher or editor) you’d better be able to send your file off immediately. But what happens if you lose your file?
Let’s pretend you write a story, but pick the title part way into the manuscript. Your original title was some kind of reference to it, but now that you’ve stepped away for a few months and want to go back, you can’t find it. Prob-lem!
If, however, you have a main manuscript file, with subfolders for each book, and then subfolders within that for different manuscript versions, marketing materials, and other book-related content, you’re going to be more likely to find what you’re looking for quickly and not have it floating around in the main part of your hard drive, never to be heard from again.
Step 3. Properly Naming Your Files
It doesn’t matter who you re sending your manuscript to, you need to name it with your first and last name and story title. Otherwise people either won’t know who it belongs to (think acquisitions person or super swamped editor) or won’t know how to find it when it’s lost in their (unorganized-oh no!) files.
If your work always has your name and title, they can easily search for it. If they stumble across your file later on, they’ll never have to work to figure out what it is.
Step 4. Using Headers and Footers
Again, full name and title. Every single page should have what it is and who created it. This makes sure no one ever questions that it’s your work, no one ever has to search for your name on the title page, and you stay top of mind of the person reading (submissions, editor, beta reader, etc)
Step 5. Title Page
Your title page needs to have every bit of contact information you have. If a person needs to reach you, it should be on there, even if you don’t like giving out your phone number. If the person in charge of publishing your story needs to reach you, they’d better have every available avenue to do that, whether it makes you warm and fuzzy or not. Remember, it’s about their comfort, not yours.
Include your full name, website, email address, website, and any other way they might want to reach you. The more they know, the more they trust you and like you. Make their lie easy. Give them the info they need.
Bonus: Email Signature
Your email signature should have all of your contact info to. Name, website, social media, and any other way people can contact you. If you insist on having your books there, put that information under your contact information (this is about priorities-people want to contact you more than see your books in your signature) This helps people to not have to search for your pages and platforms.
So there you have it. Keeping your manuscript safe is as easy as taking few extra steps to take care of it both on your computer and out in the world.
So now I want you to jump on it and make any changes you need to to take care of your baby/babies. Comment below and tell me your first priority change to protect your manuscripts in your author brand.