We’ve already established that authors and technology can have a love/hate/loathe relationship. As nice as we are to our machines, we work them hard and they can turn on us in an instant. *cautiously eyes the printer* Are there some tips to handling the stresses and fears that come with technology? If it’s trying to kill you then I’ve got nothing, but I can think of a few pieces of advice if machines are only messing with you. Kind of like that scanner that only works when someone other than you tries to use it. Smug, glass-faced son of a . . . Where was I? Yes, the list:
- Backup your work. Then make a backup of the backup. After that, get a drink and return to make a backup of the backup’s backup. Just in case, print out what you have and put it in a fireproof safe. Why? Because the last thing you want is for the computer to catch fire while the thumb drive is in it. You panic and knock the other thumb drive into a cup of soda that falls over and spills onto the final backup. The house burns down, but you have the print out in the fireproof safe. All you have to do is dig it out. Easy as pie.
- Add footnotes on every page that puts the blame for all typos on autocorrect, spellchecker, and grammar checker. The first one changed it when you weren’t looking while the second didn’t rat it out. As for the third, that smug bastard thinks it knows the English language better than you? Well, it is a machine so you figure it has to know something you don’t. Forget the fact that it never gets its and it’s right. You’re sure it picked the correct there/their/they’re word.
- Every author should try a word recognition program at least once. Just say your book to the computer and watch the words come alive. Then see it pick up your spouse’s request that you clean the toilet. Delete that and try again. Is that how a lawnmower’s sound is spelled in onomatopoeia form? (This tip is extra fun for fantasy, horror, and science fiction authors. Watch the computer cry as you argue about the proper spelling of ‘griffin’ or get angry that your homemade alien species keeps turning up with half of the z’s missing.)
- Never forget if you have a touchscreen or not. Last thing you want to do is try to clean the dirty monitor while your book is up. Sentences are combined, paragraphs are reversed, words are lost, and all other manner of mistakes that you have no idea are even there. Yes, I speak from experience.
- If you work with multiple folders or machines, always remember where the most current files are. Nothing says professional like editing Chapter 4 of one version, Chapter 6 of another, and the rest of the fixes are on the file you managed to fit onto iPhone. This tends to end with you uploading the untouched original and not realizing it until the 1-star reviews start coming in.
- Even if you can strengthen the CD tray, I wouldn’t recommend putting a cup there. It isn’t because it might break because who uses that anyway after you put all the original software on. The problem is that your computer might decided to close it without warning and knock your drink over.
- Be careful around machines because they know when you’re talking about them. They’re just waiting to get revenge by cra