It’s a good idea to keep your virtual filing cabinets in good condition. Rather than having to search through a mile and a half of documents for a document whose title you forgot a year ago, create specific files and folders for specific things, and then make an effort to use them.
When you’re writing your first book you are blissfully innocent of the pitfalls that could await you when the time comes for editing, formatting, and loading onto the various sales sites. Many writers still hit the tab key for indents, and whack the carriage return button to create as much white space as they’d like to see on their title page. While this is fine for the paperback version of your book, it’s going to get promptly spat out of the Smashwords meatgrinder, and the tabs could cause some really terrible things to happen to your MOBI file. So it’s a great idea to be a little pedantic when you’ve written THE END at the close of your tale. It’s a good idea to hit a happy medium, and have a different file for each publishing format, but also not to keep every single old manuscript file “just in case”. Here are a couple of tips to retain a little bit of sanity when the time comes to launch your baby into the world.
Create a master folder for each book, and then create sub-folders within that folder. Keep your original manuscript as simple as possible. Just type it. Don’t fiddle with formatting at all. Don’t use tabs. Be gentle with the carriage returns. Just type it. Just type it. Just… You get the idea. Don’t use one manuscript to format across all publishing platforms. Trying to format a MOBI file from an already formatted CreateSpace file is a bad idea, although the other way around is not as much of a headache. The problem with Word is that it likes to assume what you’d like, based on what you’ve been doing, and Auto formatting can cause lots of glitches in an eBook, especially when you start getting into using a whole lot of different styles. Save yourself lots of future headaches and keep your master manuscript nice and pristine in its own folder. From there Save As new manuscripts for your eBook, Smashwords, and paperback formats, and work on each individually and from scratch. By trying to “save time” and simply trying to convert and then re-convert the same manuscript, you’re guaranteed at least one large headache, and sometimes the only way around such glitches is to completely wipe all formatting and start from scratch – not a fabulous way to go.
It can seem a bit tedious in future to have to visit each folder and manually update a typo found, but it’s worth it. Also remember to delete old files, and to add the latest date to the name of your most recent manuscript file. For instance “XYZ for Kindle 9 15 2016” as a file name will ensure that you don’t accidentally load your pre-proofed copy on to Amazon, a thing that happens very easily when you’ve saved every incarnation of your book file using different names, and believing that you would most definitely remember the most recent.
Even your virtual filing cabinet can become overwhelming. If that’s the case with you, then try and grab a couple of hours to clean it up. Delete all outdated files and manuscripts, and organise the rest, so that whenever you need to update or check on any of your already published works, everything is in place, and you won’t have any sort of disaster lurking and waiting to happen to you. Happy filing fellow scribblers!