Warning: this is a no-edit zone…
Q. I have two problems that I’d like your idea on how you deal with them. I’m getting a lot of emails from my editor and agent and that makes it hard to keep track of everything. How can I make these easy to get back to for reference? Also, I’m not Internet savvy–and I don’t want to be. I like to get suggestions for revising from my agent and editor by fax. But they call me. Then I’m writing notes and I’m not always sure they’re accurate. What made sense when I wrote it looks like a foreign language later. Can you offer any suggestions for a SIMPLE process?
Sure. Let’s tackle these one at a time.
First question. Let’s say you use WORD for writing your books. Create a file for each book. Then in that book’s file, create a new folder, “EMAIL.” Now, when you’re reading the incoming email, do the following:
1. Go up to “FILE” and click.
2. Go down to “SAVE AS” and click.
3. Locate your book file and then your email file. Save the email there.
Now you have all correspondence that pertains to that book in the file for that book. If the email pertains to more than one book, place a copy of it in each file. I save the email on my online program as well to preserve confirmation of the sender, time and date, and details (which shows the exact routing of the email from that person to you.)
Be sure to save your emails to them, too, and copy them in your email file.
In my case, I subdivide the book file, and often the email file. There might be one on research, editorial emails, agent emails, promotion, interviews, etc. Whatever you need is easily done, so you make it simple for yourself and the way you think.
Understanding the way you think and adopting a system that is in harmony with it is the key to making the system work for you easily.
2. Second problem.
After the call, type your notes up and send your agent/editor a copy. “This is to confirm our phone conversation today.” Request a return receipt on your email program (check the box) and you’ll know the email was delivered and received. If things are accurate, they’ll like not send back a note. But if they’re not, then they’ll send an email to you correcting any errors.
Then you’ve both got a written record of the contents of the call, and neither of you are subject to fuzzy memory. That helps when everyone involved has a gazillion other things on their mind, too!
Lastly, and this is unbelievably helpful on complex projects, you might want to keep a running listing of action on a project. Date, ID, and Subject. And on it, you record every action you either generate or receive on the project.
It takes a few minutes at the time you do it and can save you hours later.
Something to think about: you never know ahead of time that a challenge is going to occur on a project. You only know a challenge exists after it presents itself which is in the middle or at the end of a project.
Therefore, it’s prudent not to expect challenges, but to be prepared for them. Like with a hurricane, you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. When the wind is blowing is no time to be gathering supplies or boarding up your windows.
I hope this helps!