I'm back from my mini blogging break with a short post about a couple of useful links for writers.
One of the most important things a writer needs to do is back up their files. Not once a month, or once a week, but every time you make a change in a manuscript. You can of course use a flash drive or external hard drive for that, but then you have to remember - and take the time - to actually move files around and/or copy and paste. When I relied on a flash drive I would constantly forget to back up whatever I was working on and would wind up deleting what I had on the flash drive and basically starting over with copying and pasting files every few months. Eventually I tried a service called Dropbox which provides free online storage of up to 2 GB, with the possibility of getting more through referrals. 2 GB is an awful lot of text files. It starts you out with two folders, one labeled for photos and one labeled "Public." Every folder you create will remain private unless you designate otherwise. I deleted both of those starter folders and all of my stuff is private. The easiest way to back up your files is to work out of your Dropbox folder on your computer. That way everything syncs automatically, so no more having to remember to copy and paste anymore. Take a look at Dropbox, and if you sign up at this link it counts as a referral for me.
Another great service with a free option is Mail Chimp. This one is for newsletters. Earlier in the year I toyed with using an announcement-only Google group as a way to do a newsletter but I didn't like it. I've tried to pay attention to what other authors do and found a service with a free option. I think I'm going to like Mail Chimp. You can customize what your subscription page looks like as well as the newsletter itself. Here's the link to subscribe to mine. I'm going to be sending out a monthly newsletter on the last day of the month and I'm hoping to have exclusive content every month. For my first one I think I will include an excerpt from a recently finished novella. I think it's a good idea to offer this option to readers. Some readers like to keep up with the authors they read via blogs, some prefer Twitter or Facebook. Some would rather have a newsletter, so it's a good idea to put a little effort into one. It doesn't have to be long. An update on your latest work in progress, maybe some links to some of those blog posts you work so hard on, and some exclusive newsletter-only content is a good idea. Excerpts or flash fiction would be a good idea. It's not strictly necessary, though. Mostly you just want to remind readers that you, and more importantly your books, are still out there, so don't forget the cover art and buy links for your latest release.