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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Avoid the Revision Nightmare

Hopefully, you've done everything right as far as self-publishing goes. You wrote your first novel, edited it extensively, and then rolled it out for readers and reviewers before you began work on your second.

But what if you didn't? I released eight or so novels in the same one-year span. The initial covers were terrible, and I definitely needed to do more editing. I then went on to produce audiobook and paperback editions, compounding the problem.

What I ended up with was a frustrating collection of documents. If you're foolish enough to operate this way, making a single change, like squashing a lone typo, can be difficult. But getting your work organized can help to minimize the problems involved. I don't have to point out what uploading the wrong version, possibly an older, less edited one, can do to your readership.

The first thing I recommend you do is sign up for an online storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Storing your work outside of your computer is the first step toward avoiding disaster. Another advantage is having only your most recent edits on hand to avoid confusion.

Then you should build a hierarchy of folders, something like this:

Book Title
     >Smashwords
     >Amazon
     >Createspace
     >Calibre
     >Cover

Once you do this, you can propagate changes throughout the documents safely and easily. No, it's not ideal, but in most cases, it's still a lot easier to edit multiple versions than it is to create new editions from scratch.

Had I to do it all over again, I probably would spend the first year on a single novel. Since I didn't, I have found that this is the easiest way to take control of the situation. Hopefully you'll learn from my mistakes. Even if you only have one novel, be ready to do revision control on it, and organize things from the start. Your writing career will be much more pleasurable if you prepare for multiple versions at the beginning of the publishing cycle.