Periodically, we should do the same sweep of our files. Not counting paper files, take a look at your online folders and consider paring them down. Here’s what to do:
- Convert older file formats to current versions. For example, I still have my earlier book files in Word Perfect. Now I exclusively use Word. I need to convert these files before this conversion is no longer possible or the upgrade to the next Microsoft Office edition isn’t compatible. Fortunately, I'd moved over all of my floppy disk files into Dropbox so those were preserved. Now I have to work on upgrading them to my latest version of Word.
- Pick one of your folders, and click on each file to see if you want to keep it or delete it. Here we go. Let’s choose your first published title. Do you really need that notice of your first booksigning? The list of book blurbs that are no longer catchy? Three versions of your synopsis? An email announcement to booksellers that are probably no longer in existence? A copy of the query letter you sent out to reviewers to see if they wanted an ARC? Sure, you might want to keep some of these for sentimental value, but which ones can you use today if you revise and republish this backlist title?
- Update any files that are relevant to your backlist titles available in print or ebook format. Which ones, if any, can you use to promote this book?
- On files that you decide to save, even if you convert to the current version of word processor you are using, make sure your formatting is the same as what you’re doing now. For example, I used to put two spaces between sentences. Now I use only one space. So do a Find and Replace to correct these formatting problems. Get rid of tabs and replace them with 0.5 first line indent. Reformat your headers. Change the font. Make sure the files you are keeping are up to speed. It’ll less hard to access them later that way should you need them again.
- Rename your files if necessary to be more indicative of what they are. I’ve changed a lot of file names as I go through this review process. For Hair Raiser, as an example, chapter one went from chapter1.hair.wpd to chapter 1.doc (or docx, depending on which form of Word I'm saving them in).
- Condense similar files into one file. Let’s say you have three different files, all named something different, with review quotes. Copy the material from two of them into one file and delete the extras. Pruning your files this way will eliminate repetitions.
What advice on file cleansing/updating would you add?