Part of the Indie Author Series
You might have come here thinking I was going to make a statement about hurting our platform by responding to negative reviews. Maybe you thought I was going to talk about not copyrighting our work or about giving things away for free.
I’m not talking about any of those things.
The single biggest mistake an indie author can make is failing to properly back-up their work.
Don’t laugh. Don’t brush it off. Please don’t stop reading.
We’ve all heard this advice, but how many of us actually do it. I had to learn the hard way. I once had my computer crash, and in order to recover a week’s worth of work, I had to pay a computer guru to salvage it. It wasn’t cheap. And I was one of the lucky ones. Work can’t always be saved after a computer disaster, especially if that disaster includes something more tragic like a robbery or house fire.
Backing up our work is even more important for indie authors than for traditionally published authors because we’re the main repository for everything relating to our book.
We’re the ones responsible for keeping a copy of our covers (both print and ebook versions). Our cover designer might. They might not. It’s not their responsibility.
We’re the ones responsible for keeping an up-to-date document of our manuscript. That’s not our editor’s responsibility.
We’re the ones responsible for keeping a copy of the versions of our book that we upload to all retailers. That’s not our formatter’s responsibility.
In fact, if we’ve done any of that ourselves, we might be the only one with copies of these elements of our books.
And if something happens to the computer where we’ve stored those elements, we might lose them forever (forcing us to do all that work over again) or lose hours or days of our time recovering bits and pieces.
When you’re an indie, time lost is money lost.
So how do you protect your work?
The key to peace of mind and safety is redundancy. Yes, I know we avoid it in our writing, but in backing up our writing, it’s the best practice.
External Hard Drive
My last laptop was a complete lemon. I had it for fewer months out of the year than it was away for repairs and replacement parts. That meant that not only was I constantly afraid of the hard drive frying itself without warning (which it often did), but I also had to be prepared to hop between multiple computers while it was away and I was at the mercy of family members.
I bought myself an external hard drive, and I now work with it plugged into my computer. I configured it for Instant Back-Up, which means that while I’m working, it’s creating an up-to-date duplicate of everything I’m doing.
An external hard drive isn’t enough on its own though. Corrupted files, viruses, or house fires can all make an external hard drive useless.
A remote back-up is your main offsite back-up solution. Basically, you sign-up, choose your settings, and the remote back-up will save your files two (or more) times a day.
I’d suggest looking at Carbonite (which is about $60/year) or Mozy (which is around $9.99/month). They offer slightly different features, so poke around their pages before making your final choice.
Saving to the Cloud
With Cloud storage, you have a couple of options.
The first is that you can set up a program like iCloud (for Apple users) or Dropbox (for PC users), and have your files saved there instead of on your hard drive. In other words, all your files are stored remotely, not on your computer.
I’ll be completely honest here—and I mean no offense to people who’ve been doing this—that isn’t smart. Glitches happen. I’ve heard of more than one person who had a program like this reset to an earlier version, erasing their current versions. Plus, this means you’re dependent on constant internet access. That makes this impractical for authors who turn off the internet or seek internet-free places to write without distraction.
We should never depend entirely on an offsite system for maintaining our files. They should be saved on our computers as well as saved somewhere else.
The second option, which is what I recommend, is that you keep your files saved on your hard drive and use Cloud storage as an additional back-up method. Dropbox is even free up to a point, so if you don’t want to pay for two back-up systems, you could save only your essential files there.
Do you back up your work regularly? What method do you use and recommend?
Marcy Kennedy is a suspense and speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance fiction editor and teaches classes on craft and social media. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at marcykennedy.com.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble
About Point of View: A Busy Writer’s Guide
Point of view isn’t merely another writing craft technique. Point of view is the foundation upon which all other elements of the writing craft stand—or fall.
It’s the opinions and judgments that color everything the reader believes about the world and the story. It’s the voice of the character that becomes as familiar to the reader as their own. It’s what makes the story real, believable, and honest.
Yet, despite its importance, point-of-view errors are the most common problem for fiction writers.
In Point of View in Fiction: A Busy Writer’s Guide, you’ll learn
- the strengths and weaknesses of the four different points of view you can choose for your story (first person, second person, limited third person, and omniscient),
- how to select the right point of view for your story,
- how to maintain a consistent point of view throughout your story,
- practical techniques for identifying and fixing head-hopping and other point-of-view errors,
- the criteria to consider when choosing the viewpoint character for each individual scene or chapter,
- and much more!