What Every Author Should Know About Saving Book Files

It’s easy to get confused and lose files when you’re writing a book, but there is a way to keep track of every thought you have, every draft you write, and every improvement you make.

  • The first step is to create a file folder called BOOK FILES or the title of your book.
  • Step two is to create folders (within the BOOK FILES folder) for each chapter and give it a simple name, such as CHAPTER 1 and perhaps a keyword to remind you of the subject.
  • Finally, inside the chapter folders you will keep your drafts, as you write them.

Imagine you are writing a book on communicating within an organization, and one of the chapters is on meetings. Within your folder called BOOK FILES or COMMUNICATING is a folder called CHAPTER 1: MEETINGS. Within that file folder is a document titled “Meetings,” draft #1, and the date you wrote it. This is how you write and save the document:


Now, let’s say you are going to make changes to that document, but you don’t want to lose your original version. Before you write a single word, save it as Meetings_2_051109. Then, make your changes to the new draft. When you are finished, save the latest version. Within your MEETINGS folder your now have two files:


If you are doing a lot of rewriting, you may accumulate numerous drafts of each chapter. In the case of ten drafts, for example, your MEETINGS file folder would look like this:

Meetings 1_041108
Meetings 2_051109
Meetings 3_052008
Meetings 4_052508
Meetings 5_062508
Meetings 6_070208
Meetings 7_071108
Meetings 8_071208
Meetings 9_071608

Why bother going to all this trouble? The answer is that you never know when you are going to want to refer to or use something you’ve written weeks or even months ago. If you had simply typed right over your words, they would be gone forever. Don’t imagine you will be able to remember what you wrote because, after 10 drafts of one chapter, believe me, you won’t. When the book is finished and in print, you can throw away your old drafts if you want to. I tend to keep them, however. I simply burn a CD and file the whole book away. “Better safe than sorry” may be a cliché, but it is one to live by when you are an author.

Bobbi Linkemer is a book coach, ghostwriter, editor, and the author of 16 books under her own name. She has been a professional writer for more than 40 years, a magazine editor, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to write books in order to enhance their credibility or build their businesses. Visit her Website at: www.WriteANonfictionBook.com.


  1. says

    Bobbi, this is great advice. I agree that it is important to keep multiple versions of files. Not only are they a useful reference as you write, they can be helpful in documenting your process if you are ever called upon to prove that you wrote something.
    Cathy Stucker recently posted..How to Write an ‘About’ PageMy Profile

  2. says

    Thanks so much for the nice comment. I am amazed at how important this whole concept is to my students and clients. One former student and now a published author said one of the most important things she learned was “save as.” You never know what is going to matter. Some of the things that do seem so small.
    Best regards,