Getting your manuscript files back (and your cover files!) from the person or company that uploaded them for you isn’t important–until you need to make changes and neither you nor the other party can find them.
Why I Wrote This Post
I am working with a publishing client, a lovely lady, who had a company upload her mom’s book to—she thought—KDP. She also had it privately printed by a local printing company. Now she wants to put it on Amazon and perhaps distribute it to specialty gift shops.
The problem is that the only files she has are the PDFs of the interior and the cover. The cover had duplex printing (printing on the inside of the cover). The outer and inner covers are in one pdf file. The back cover has no space for a bar code.
Additionally, the client wants to make some changes to the manuscript, most notably, taking off the local printing company’s large logo and contact information.
You Need Your Original Files as Well as the Uploaded Files
Now we get to go through the fun of converting the pdf interior to a Word doc. Because there are so many images (it’s a memoir) which weren’t correctly formatted in the first place, we’re going to have to reformat the entire document. The cover will need to be reworked as well. The interior cover printing will be moved to back matter in the book since KDP doesn’t do duplex printing.
It would be so much easier (and less costly for the client) if she had the original manuscript files. As it turns out, her foreword to the book was added into her mother’s original manuscript by the printer (we think). Kind of a paste job.
Maybe Better File Names, Too.
When you are working on your book, you will end up with files labeled things like: Manuscript Final Draft. Manuscript FINAL FINAL Draft. Uploaded Manuscript DATE. And all sorts of fun stuff that will be undecipherable when you go back to make changes or upload to a new platform.
Do yourself a favor. As well as making a document with all your metadata for the book, create a folder that ONLY contains the final files. The actual Word document (or whatever you used to write the manuscript), the cover design files, the pdfs and epubs that were uploaded, and a separate image file for all the images that were used in the book.
Then back that folder up somewhere. If the manuscript is incredibly valuable to you, also put it on a thumb drive and throw it in a safety deposit box. (I watch way too many spy movies.)
If You Use a Vanity Press, Hybrid Publisher, Publishing Service, or Trad Publisher
If you use a local printer, vanity press or just a publishing service, ask them for ALL of your uploaded files. You’re paying for the service; those are your files. If you have a traditional publisher, you probably won’t get the actual upload files, but you should have clean—meaning final edited and proofed—copy of the manuscript, in your files.
You need to be able to quickly put your hands on your book files. If you create a second edition, you want to create an entirely new folder labeled “Second Edition.” If you’re only making a few minor changes, update the files in your folder.
Yes, big platforms like Amazon and Ingram have AMAZING security and fail safes. But we live in weird times on a dangerous planet. Facebook is held together with duct tape and old bubblegum. Twitter is already dead; Musk just won’t admit it yet. Platforms come and go.
Case in point: I opened up Facebook today and there was a big pop-up message from “CyberSecurity” (as if Facebook has ANY security… but that’s a rant for another day) saying that some of my content had been removed. When I clicked through to see what was removed, I had status reports on all my pages and groups with happy little check marks saying “all good.” Did they remove anything? Beats me.
If something happens to the platform where your book is for whatever reason (I mean, really, we’re all just waiting for the zombie apocalypse to start), you want to be able to re-upload your files with as little hassle as possible. Not securing your files, not having backups in at least two other places, can only lead to heartbreak. And who wants that?
Need help organizing your files? Check out this post: Organizing Your Book Files for a Smooth Self-Publishing Experience