Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tips and Tools for Experienced Writers

 This week's topic: Tools for Experienced Writers

Uh...hmm.  This topic is harder than it seems because--regardless of how long you've been in the publishing business--when it comes to the writing side, you don't need anything fancy, but you do need something current. One-off the current release of your preferred word-processing app is as much as you can safely dally before you risk file corruption and loss of interoperability. Frankly, I recommend staying up-to-date with the release versions of your writing app (hell, make that all apps) because of security enhancements to protect you and your work from the persistent pernicious attacks of bad actors. 

Next, advice from anyone who's ever lost a file: cloud storage and external drive storage is recommended. Whether it's file corruption, accidental overwrites, or straight-up missing docs, when the poltergeists strike, we all become Captain Kirk screaming, "Khaaaaaaan" at the top of our lungs. We can breathe again once we find a "clean" copy of what went missing. Thus, two-point backups. While my files auto-save to my cloud storage, I do external backups once a year (I should do it quarterly, but...) Word docs don't take up that much data space, so it's not like you have to buy a pricey 4Tb drive. Get yourself a little 16GB flash drive for $10 and save yourself from bile-rising anxiety. Oh, and if your computer's OS has updated and/or your writing app has had a major update since your last external backup, take the 5-10mins now to do a backup. Planned obsolescence is the enemy of backward compatibility, and we live in a capitalist society. 

Now, from the business side of publishing, there's a lot of stuff you need to track in order to stay abreast of All The Things from Work(s) in Progress and Submissions, to Product Sales and Marketing Campaigns, to Costs and Revenue. For me, I'm still leaning on Excel. Spreadsheets abound, my people. Alas, I didn't keep up with the assorted releases of MS Access, so I'm no longer able to build databases that would've eased tracking and reporting.  Though, if anyone has recommendations for author/publishing-centric dBs, drop them in the comments, please!

If you're self-publishing and/or have earned enough revenue that you've incorporated (threshold varies by state), then make sure you're tracking all your expenses and earnings with accounting software like Quicken. When it comes to tax season, you and your accountant will be grateful you did.

Remember, all the extra apps and subscriptions you use for your business are tax deductible (verify specifics with your accountant as tax law changes year-to-year).

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