This Advice Will Save Your Book: Back Up Your Work Twice!
Would you like to see the most re-tweeted tweet I've ever sent out into the universe? I got a pretty good response to some of my copy edits humour, but this one blew it out of the water. Here she is:
Writers, back up your work in more than one location. This public service announcement brought to you by the last 45 minutes of total panic.
— Amie Kaufman (@AmieKaufman) December 2, 2012
FIFTY re-tweets. From authors, editors, agents and publishers. Clearly, you all feel my pain. I'm usually very careful about backing up my work--I'm old-fashioned, so I save it to my laptop, a USB and email it to myself at the end of each session. But recently I was on the road, and had no internet access, so I didn't email it to myself. Then, when I got home, my USB died. Left with only one option, I bolted for the laptop I had been using on my trip, trying to ignore the way my heart was thumping. The laptop had the old version of the book on it. I must have forgotten to save it to the laptop, and only saved it to the USB. I knew immediately--the way you always do when you lose work--that I could never, not ever, rewrite those chapters to be as good as they were. The dialogue would never be as witty, the description never as sparkling, the action never as immediate, the pacing never as perfect. You know the drill. And then, just as I was trying to decide whether I could face the pain of revisiting all that work, salvation! Now, don't laugh at me, please... I remembered which laptop I took on my trip. And it wasn't the one I was checking. Crisis averted. The sheer level of response on Twitter got me thinking, though--I'm clearly not the only one who's lost work, or come close. So today, a quick list of options for backing up your work (and please note that I'm not endorsing any particular system):
Email the file to yourself.
Save it to USB.
Mozy.com -- I have friends who swear by this system, which you can schedule to back up your computer at the same time each day.
Dropbox -- Like Mozy, it backs up your work offsite (does anyone else imagine "the cloud" looking like it's made of all the words from our books?) and it works across multiple platforms.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and I'd invite you to add your favourite options in the comments. Personally, I'd recommend making sure that if you back up to a cloud or offsite server, you also back up to a USB so you've always got a copy, but I'm no expert! Here's my challenge for you, though: don't read this post and think 'She's right, that would suck!'. If you don't have a back up plan in operation, then make one now. Today. You can thank me tomorrow.