Keeping Track Keeps Me Up At Night
by Paty Jager
April 21, 2022
The thing I find the most taxing about writing is keeping all the information about the characters in ongoing series straight, keeping track of ISBNs, keeping track of everywhere the book, ebook, and audio book can be purchased, keeping track of prices, keeping track of where I have or had a book on sale, keeping track of everything other than the actual writing of the book. Whew! Just thinking about it makes me exhausted!
I’ve read how other authors use spreadsheets or software to help them keep track of many of my issues. I do have a spreadsheet of my books with all the pertinent information, but I find it cumbersome and haven’t discovered an easy solution for it. I’ve never been a fan of spreadsheets, but I can use them.
For my series characters, I keep an ongoing document that I add the new local characters to after each book. And I have a list of names I give to my expendable characters (victims, suspects) so I don’t repeat myself. These are kept in each series document folder and printed out and kept in each binder for the respective series.
I like having an informational page in each book’s file. Most people say is handier on a spreadsheet. The way I do it is handier for me. I have the ISBNs, blurb, tagline, keywords, buy links, list of people who helped with the book, and reviews that are good for promotion. I prefer looking at the information on a page that is easy to read. The columns and lines on a spread sheet are hard for me to find what I want easily.
Then there is the hunting down of all the information that needs to go in a spreadsheet. See first paragraph above. Some of the URLs for the vendors of my books can be excruciatingly long. It’s hard to put that in a one or two inch long cell in the spreadsheet. Not to mention some of my series names are also long. (Since writing this post a friend helped me color code and shorten the links)
Recently Ingram, where I upload my print books, changed the pricing of print books. Which means over a dozen of my books had to have the price changed. After changing them at Ingram, I went to my spreadsheet and changed all the prices there. It also required my contacting the Windtree Press web mistress to change the prices on the website there. When a new vendor carries one of my books, which I rarely check on, those URLs need to be entered as well.
The part I have the worst problem with is trying to remember where and when I put certain books on sale. It’s too easy to sign up for a special deal through a site that promotes books on sale. I usually write it down in my date book to make sure I lower the price of the ebook, but then when it’s over and another site has a deal, I can’t remember what I did or which book might do better. I need to make a sheet or a spreadsheet just for sale information.
In my promotion folder I have a folder with lists of my books. One has every book listed with all the ISBNS, another has all my books in print with their prices- wholesale and retail- that I use when I sell books to bookstores. And there is my list that can be downloaded from my website with all of my books and if they are ebook, print, or audio with the corresponding ISBNs.
As you can see, I have all the information, just in various documents. Which probably makes more work for myself but it is so much easier for me to read and decipher than a one stop spreadsheet.
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. Learn more about her at her website.