Organizing your Files

One of the keys in completing that novel is to work smarter, not harder. The more efficient you can be, the more quickly you can get your project completed. As part of that, it's important to organize your files. Here is how I organize my files when I do my writing and publishing. Every person is different, of course, and what works best for you may be different! These are just an example of how I keep myself on track with my projects.

First, I have a folder called "writings" which is my main folder that organizes all my writing content. Within that folder I have categories of writing that I do. So for example I have a "romance" folder that holds my twelve medieval romance novels. I have a "low carb" folder that holds my thirteen low carb cookbooks.

Within a given category, I have a folder for each specific book. So in my low carb folder I have a "microwave" folder for my Microwave Recipes book, a "nocook" folder for my Quick No-Cook Recipes book, and so on.

The first thing I create in a folder once I start writing a book is a file called aaaVersion.txt. I name it with the aaa so it sorts alphabetically at the top of the directory and is always easy to find. In this version file I put the name of the book at the top. I have the ISBN for the print copy version and the ebook version (those are two different numbers). I leave this blank until I get those assigned, but those go at the top for easy reference. Then below that I list in running tally each version number, its date, and the change or action taken on that date. I start with "B" versions (B1, B2, B3) for the beta runs I do pre-release, that I send out to readers and testers. Then I start counting with regular numbers once it goes live, to track each new version I publish. So for example I might have:

Version 2 12/1/14
Fixed two typos and added a new tunafish recipe.
-- Kindle
-- CreateSpace

Version 1 11/1/14
Initial version, rolling out live.
-- Kindle
-- CreateSpace

Version B4 10/1/14
Great notes from Tom. Made various fixes.

Version B3 ... (and so on )

I always put the newest on top so it's easy to pop into a document and see its latest state.

This version document helps me keep track of where I am in the process with each book. If I get distracted from working on a project, I can come back to it and know where to pick up on things. Below that version information I keep track of other generic information like the book's promotional blurb, the key words I've chosen for it, the BISAC categories, and so on.

In addition to the version file, the main directory also holds the word document that holds the content of the book. In this microwave case it would be called microwave-v1.docx for the Version 1 file, microwave-v2.docx for the Version 2 file, and so on. I create the base document in the proper size for printing - for most of my documents that is 5.25" x 8" with 0.5" margins and a 0.3" gutter. I save a PDF version to submit for the print copy. Then I generate a .htm to feed into Calibre, and use that to make the .MOBI for Kindle and the .EPUB for everything else. Finally, I make a .DOC version for SmashWords.

Because each file has the version number built into it, it means when I'm doing my review rounds I always know exactly which version a person is commenting on. I do also have the version number (even for beta versions) on the copyright page, in the "printer's key."

Beneath the microwave folder I create an "old versions" directory. Any time I start a new version, for example when going from microwave-v5.docx to microwave-v6.docx, I put all the v5 files into the "old versions" directory. That way I have them for reference but they're not cluttering up my main working area.

Beneath the microwave folder I also create a folder called "cover". This is where I store all files relating to both the simple cover for ebook use and the wrap-around cover for the print copy.

By keeping all the files for a given book in one main folder, it lets me easily back up all my books with backup software, to know I have them safe and sound!

Let me know how you prefer to keep your files organized!

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