What we have here is some copies printed out of the manuscript of The Golden City. Not the final manuscript…earlier versions. One of those contains notes from my editor at Ace, the other has my notes that I scribbled in there during the revision.
Now generally, I prefer to recycle the vast amount of paper that I use, but I’m saving these two. Because I’ve been approached by archivists in the past, I’m more conscious about trying to preserve prior version of stories, essentially so that people can see how the process goes down. That’s what makes manuscripts with notes in them (marginalia) more useful…and why I picked these two.
The reason I’m posting this here is that my mention of this on FB brought out a surge of comments, some from people who have first-hand knowledge of archiving. One of those who had some comments was Lynne Marie Thomas, curator of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Collection at Northern Illinois University. (AKA , editor of Apex Magazine and also anthologies such as Chicks Dig Time Lords.)
She had some recommendations for me regarding my -computer- files as well (and gave me permission to quote her here.)
Duplication is always helpful. Keep the .docs as is, and make .rtf or even .pdf copies of same. Please be sure to also migrate forward/back up in multiple places the original electronic files that you created that resulted in the printouts (archives collect BOTH these days!)
If you can, it’s good to get the old files off the disks and into newer formats, preferably open ones like RTF (in addition to .doc or .docx, which most systems handle routinely). Open Office formats are good, too. PDF is a recognized digital preservation format, FWIW.
What we want to avoid on our end is being handed 3″ floppies that we don’t have equipment to read, with Wordstar 2.0 or WordPerfect from 1990 files upon it.
So basically here’s some archiving advice:
1) If you’ve made notes in a copy, save that copy. It helps people understand your writing process.
2) If you’ve just made a reading copy, someone might want that too. So you might as well hang onto it.
1) Don’t delete old files.
2) Don’t overwrite old versions. What I do is save a copy and then work in that new copy.
3) Make sure that when you migrate to a new word processing program, that you migrate -all- your old files. Yes, it’s time consuming, but you should set aside time to do it.
4) Consider saving a copy in .pdf format.
5) Have more than one copy of these files. I even keep one stored off-site at my husband’s office.
6) Please don’t assume that ‘the cloud’ is always a safe storage place. The shutdown of Iron Mountain (a cloud storage company) cut a lot of people off from their files. Learn from that. Make sure you’ve got copies on disc or drive somewhere.
Anyhow, I thought I would cover this, since it’s something a lot of newer authors don’t think about. (After all, who would want -our- stuff? We’re not GRRM!) But there’s always the chance that you’re going to be the next GRRM, LMMB, or JRRT…and just don’t know it yet. So try to think long term.
And they just don’t take up that much space ;o)