True story: back before I reinvented myself as a writer, I was an office flunkie. My very first job out of college was as the administrative assistant in an executive recruitment firm (later, I was the “administrative office manager” – that meant I was the lucky duck who put up signs in the bathrooms reminding people to flush). That business was a start-up. On my first day on the job, there were no filing systems in place, and in a business where being able to cross-reference information was so critical, that was kind of a priority.
I’m the poor slob who set up, troubleshooted, and refined the filing system. Pretty much everything has gone electronic now, but the same principles apply. Where do you file stuff so you can actually FIND it?
This post comes on the heels of a bunch of writers I know asking how everyone else managed their manuscripts. I thought I’d share my madness.
First, I have a top-most folder I shortcut in my Mac dock. It’s called “Manuscripts.” Basically, that’s everything that has to do with my fiction writing.
Because I work with multiple publishers, each house has its own sub-folder for more efficient sorting. Within a publisher folder, the next level of the hierarchy is the project name.
I currently have two projects contracted by Lyrical Press, thus two folders.
Now, from there you can see the hodgepodge of stuff that goes into each project file. Here’s the folder for Sold As Is (my Crimson Romance novel):
There, you see contracts, marketing forms, all my various drafts, and I’ve bumped cover art and promo graphics into their own folder.
I don’t keep every single draft of a story. After the final version is submitted, I tend to clean up a bit and clear out earlier drafts UNLESS I think I need some snipped information later for a spin-off or maybe even a whole new story. I use the Greek alphabet to track my drafts so I know which is the newest. So, with Sold As Is, my file names would have been something like Sold As Is Alpha.docx, Sold As Is Beta.docx, Sold As Is Gamma.docx, and so on.
If you scroll back up to that first image, you see I also have a “Self Published Titles” folder, and that’s organized internally the same way as my “Contracted” folder. The “Trunked” folder? That’s stuff I’m not ready to throw in the towel on, but don’t have time to tinker with right now. That’s where the fantasy trilogy I’ll be working on later this year is living.
I guess that file cabinet flunky job came in handy for something, huh?
If you haven’t worked out a filing system yet, give it some thought before you become too prolific. The last thing you want is for an editor to ask for some form you could have sworn you sent back already, but you can find no evidence of on your computer.