I’m Drowning in Files

Olive Hazel – @olivethecavvy on Instagram

Despite my adorable puppy on the gloriously clean image of my desktop above, I really suck at organizing files. Not just paper ones but electronic files as well. It has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t have a decent naming system and that I often click Save and my edits end up in some obscure file directory I didn’t even know existed.

The only place where I’m fairly decent about this is with my editing and formatting clients. I at least have a system and I save the files to one spot so I can work on them from multiple computers, if need be. But then years after I’m done with those files, they still sit in the same place. I’ll likely never go back to them, yet there they sit.

Writers save their work a lot. I do most of my drafting on Scrivener, so that makes it easy for me. But once I’m done with my major edits and want to get super technical and share my work with beta readers or send it to my editor, I move over to word. So I start off with a file name like Title.docx.  Easy enough. I tweak and may even change this to Title_Draft.docx or Title_Draft_2.docx. Then once I send it off and get it back, I add on Title_Draft_BetaName.docx.

Then I move on to Content_Edit, Copy_Edit, Proof, and finally to Format. There may be many incarnations behind that, usually denoted with a numeral.

Formatting files, well… with that I format my proof, an ARC to send out to reviewers, and my final product. Each of those files is then converted into files for Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, B&N, a generic epub, and then a print version, if I choose to make a paperback. As for the print version, I actually format that a bit differently than my ebook because of the way the text falls on the page. I have more control, so I create a new file for that.

But the real problem comes when I’m searching for a file and I end up with a list this long. It’s filled with images, formatting files, ebook formats, PDF print, covers, teasers, and a whole lot more.

Once I have a book uploaded to stores and ready to go, do I need all that? How long do I keep a file around? When I do a search on some of my oldest stories, there are hundreds of files. I used to have a different file for each chapter back then because I published them as a serial.

How do you organize your computer files? My goal for 2018 is to be conscious of where I’m storing a file before I hit Save. I have so many images that have ended up in my Documents folder that it’s not even funny. Why is that? Because that’s where Gimp defaults… and I don’t know how to change that. 😂

I clearly need a better system. I’m all ears if you have suggestions.


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