Master Files

A little organization goes a long way. Every book you write has certain information that you should make note of for future reference such as using that book as part of a series, reselling rights to the book, listing the work as an intellectual property for estate planning, etc.

If you write more than one book, and most of us do, they can all blur together after a bit. The best practice is to set up a Master File system so you can find all the valuable information in one spot.

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On my computer, I have a folder saved on the hard drive: MASTER FILES. In that folder, are the sub-folders that comprise the most valuable information I need. There are all kinds of master files you contain, i.e., one with reviews of each book. Here are the ones I think are the basics you need.

1. Master File: Book

This will contain the background information on the book: date you started the book, date you finished the book, date you sold the book if to a trad. publisher, date you published the book. Rights sold. The location of where an archived digital and print copy are contained.

This file will also contain: names of cast of characters, short description of each, logline, ISBN, Copyright Registration date and number.

Anytime you sell subsidiary rights or register a new ISBN for a new edition or update the Copyright Registration, that pertinent information needs to be placed in this file. List the outlets where you distribute the work as an ebook. List the outlet's Product Number and the webpage URL.

Store this file on your computer and/or print it out and put it in a file folder with the name of the book where you will also file Publishing Contracts, Rights Reversion letters, etc.

2. Master File: Names

This should be a cross-referenced file and should contain an alphabetical listing of every name you ever used in a book with the book title where that name occurred in parentheses. This should cross-reference to the Book Master File.

The names listed should be character names, pet names, business names, town names, county names--in other words ANY name, fictional or real.

Do this and you'll never find yourself using a name from one book in another book.

3. Master File: ISBN

You'll need at least these columns: Date, Title, Edition, ISBN, Type, Notes.

DATE -- when the ISBN was received or registered.

TITLE -- book title

EDITION -- i.e., ebook or mass market paperback or standard print hardcover, etc.

ISBN -- the number itself

TYPE -- from a print publisher or free from Smashwords or one you purchased from Bowker

NOTES -- put in anything you think you might need for future reference

4. Master File: Copyright

You'll need at least these columns: Date, Title, Type, Registration Number, Notes.

DATE -- when the copyright was registered

TITLE -- title of the work registered

TYPE -- original literary work or revised work or added content, etc.

REGISTRATION NUMBER -- the number assigned your registration

NOTES -- put in anything you think you might need for future reference

Be Secure

Remember to back up your files -- and not just digitally. Digital media fails. Paper still lives on. Keep an updated file on a flash drive and a paper print-out in a safety deposit box. After all, your books are assets that may pay rewards for years to come.

Takeaway Truth

It's a lot easier to organize this information from the beginning rather than trying to re-create it after the fact. If you haven't set up master files before, set a goal to get one completed each week until you are up to date. Then when you create a new work, immediately update your Master Files.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.

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