The lighter side of editing

The lighter side of editing

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Authors, Back Up Your Books! Please.

This is the face of a writer whose book files have just gone Poof!
Don't let this happen to you.
Back up your book.
Stock image from Adobe Stock.

The following histrionic announcement is a friendly reminder to authors everywhere:

Back up your book files!
All of them!
In multiple places!
Preferably places where you’ll be able to find them again!

I offer this reminder because, over the years, I have received a disturbing number of e-mails from clients that go something like this:

I just got a new computer and accidentally deleted my book off my old one before I could transfer it.

Or this:

Don’t laugh, but I can’t find any of my book files.

Or this:

My hard drive crashed and I lost my book!

In all cases, the clients contacted me to see if, by some miracle, I had a copy of their book. In all cases, I did not have a copy hanging out on my hard drive. However, I was usually able to help by going into my e-mail archives. (Note to clients: This trick won’t work any longer because when I switched computers last year, I thought I was backing up all of my e-mail from forever ago, but in reality I only backed up two weeks’ worth. Yes, editors have technical screw-ups too.) In one case, I was able to download a pdf file from the client’s self-publisher. I dread the day a client contacts me in desperation to find a copy of their book and I can’t help. That book, all that work, will just be gone. Poof.

On the one hand, on the other hand

As a rather ordinary human person, I can see how files get lost. You always meant to back stuff up to the cloud or an external hard drive or something, but you just never got around to it. Stuff happens. I get it.

But, as an author myself, I cannot imagine not keeping backups of my books. When I’m working on a new book, I back everything up to a thumb drive every time I make changes. I back up every file on my computer to an external hard drive once a week. I back up to two places in the cloud every day.

If something happens to the main file on my computer, I want to be able to get to it through another source. I don’t want months of work to just go poof!

(Another note to clients: Yes, it may be possible for me to find a copy of your book from four years ago somewhere among my backups. Just don't expect the search to be free.)

Back up your baby

When it comes to protecting whatever files you have for your book, no one can do it as well as you can. Because no one on this earth loves your book as much as you do. Not your spouse, not your mother, not your editor. You. You, you, you.

Your book is your baby. Back it up. Please.