Those little extras that pay off dividends – one day. Part 1

If, like me, you are a bit of “things need to be put in the right place” kind of chap, or chapess, then I have some handy tips for your note book and computer record keeping.

Now, I know right now many of you will be thinking, UGH! But go with me here.

If like me you write books and are trying to get published the old fashioned conventional way, that goes something like, you, book, book in drawer for 3 months. You, review, edit, proof reader, edit book, you, proof reader, edit book, review, edit, put in draw for 1 month. Review, HAPPY!! find publisher, get advance, live happily ever after……..

Then in all of that post first write stuff that takes it from good first draft to well honed saleable book, somewhere you need to keep good records of what you did to the manuscript.

These are my handy tips for all of you. And I bet you will go, oh come on, give me a break here! at least twice.

  • In your note book, write down a list of the chapters, their titles, their number of pages and each chapter word count, on one new page of the book.
  • Put a date on it and call it whatever it is, first write, 16 April 2013, no edits.
  • When that is done, open a new spreadsheet and input the data and if you can (it is realy easy by the way, because I can do it) do a cumulative word count for the pages and words in the adjacent columns. Use the tab on that sheet to date it with the title you have given it above, “first write 16 April 2013, no edits.”
  • Now, for every time you make a reasonably significant change, say, dealing with your comments and proof reader comments, do the same thing as a new sheet.
  • This means that as the book develops you have a record, keep the printed copies that you and the proof reader have written all over in red pen, file them away and label them. DO NOT DESTROY THEM.
  • When you have that light bulb moment about something in your book, write it in your notebook, date it. It may even be something as simple as “check that Fred is left handed, I think I had it wrong at the end of the end of the book.” Don’t think you will remember it, you wont, write it down, date it.
  • Eventually, when you think the book is almost there and/or you are doing a significant review with proof reader and your comments on second or third or forth draft etc, go through that notebook and make sure you have attended to all of those comments. Tick them off and make sure you date when you have done it and in what version of the book it is in.
  • Always, always, always make a new file for each version. Never overwrite anything other than for the most simplest of things. So, if it is on the fifth draft, you will have a folder on your computer that says “old drafts” and in that you put the folder that has all the other drafts. It may well be that there are folders in that folder, one for each draft. Well done, that is how it should be.
  • Each time, make a new word count page in that spread sheet. It only takes a few minutes. Now, you may ask, “but my book is now one file, how can I word count a chapter?” There are several ways. One is to highlight the selected work, i.e. Chapter 1 and while still highlighted, go to word count and it will give you the selected word count as well as total count. Another way is to copy that Chapter or selected piece of work onto a new document and you will have the word count for it, then delete the copy, not the original.
  • Keep doing all of these things and you will have a wonderful record of the book, its progress and when you look back on it, you will realise that it has all been worth while

See Part 2 for more helpful handy tips.

Check out more tips like this in my book The Handbook Of TOP TIPS To Manage Your Writing available on Amazon via the “Buy My Books Page”


About purpleandrew

Andrew, recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome is a 54 year old former geologist always had short hair, suited & booted for work. That all changed when the credit crunch hit. Now a complimentary therapist, hospital radio presenter, and writer. Andrew writes crime thrillers, Young Adult, and fantasy books as well as blogging about writing and other stuff that he feels strongly about.
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