Paperwork, Hardware, Software, Backups and Taxes…

The business of writing and authorship can be so tedious. So how do you cope?

Today I had to look up my EIN (for an affiliate program), and it took so long I created a TAX INFO folder in my documents folder so I could find it again if needed (and I know I will). And also recorded it in my contacts list, where I found duplicates in contacts list, so I cleaned that up. And while I was doing that Microsoft Word had an update to install and so did Adobe Acrobat, and Mozy was backing up my files remotely. It seems like every day there's somebody asking me for a W9 or the computer bugs me with an update notice.

I have learned from experience that it is not good to ignore these things. My brain cannot keep up with them, so I do them right away.

I keep my computers updated with the latest software whenever it tells me about it. And when an application tells me it has an update to install, I also say yes.

If you don't have fast wifi, do this at the public library about once a month. Why? Because your computer works better that way and you're less likely to experience a crash due to software.

Hardware is another issue. I take my laptop with me almost everywhere, including on my motorcycle, so if any hardware rattles loose or I crash or fall over, I want my data safe. I use Mozy to back up my files and there are other good programs out there, too. Plus I have a 1 TB hard drive for Time Machine backups on my laptop - they are really cheap now.

I also pay $9/mo for a terabyte of storage on DropBox. You might view DropBox as redundant, and it is, but it's also a useful business tool, and you can use a share link instead of sending email attachments. I send links to files and folders, instead, and you should, too. (Here's why.)

A computer crash can be traumatic. I just helped a friend recover some of the files he'd lost when his laptop started acting wanky. He'd never backed up anything so I got him a free DropBox and Google Drive account and encouraged him to buy a 1 Terabyte hard drive, too. (Come on! They're only about $60!) I hope he does, and I hope you do.

Lessons learned

  • Please just say yes when your computer tells you there's an update! Your software and apps will thank you by running smoothly.
  • Practice multiple levels of backups. Hardware doesn't last forever, so if your external backup hard drive fails, make sure you've got a cloud-based backup system.
  • Use DropBox for file sharing.
  • Get in EIN to use instead of your SSN so you can track your business expenses.
  • Do your taxes


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Carla King

Carla King is a travel and technology writer turned author and self-publishing expert. She started self-publishing in 1995 and founded the Self-Pub Boot Camp series of educational books, workshops, and online courses in 2010. She runs the self-publishing and technology track at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a series of online courses at www.selfpubbootcampcourses.com.