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What Hurricane Katrina Can Teach Authors

By Lynne Klippel

By now, you are heartsick and tired of looking at the images of the horror and devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, if you are an author and self-publisher, it pays to look at this disaster as a wake-up call.

Just for a moment, image that a disaster stuck YOUR home. What would happen to your writing and to your business? Could you keep things going if you had no electricity, no internet connection, or no phone service? How could you continue to sell your books, even if you were unable to get online to process orders?

There are several important steps all authors and self-publishers need to take immediately to ensure that your books and your business are protected from natural disasters, fires, and unexpected events like plumbing leaks or computer meltdowns.

* Your number one priority should be to create several back-up copies of your manuscript. You can burn it onto a CD and store it in a safe deposit box. Send a copy to your mother or friend who lives out of state. Another option would be to consider creating a private blog where you can immediately access your work from any internet connection. For a free service check out www.livejournal where you can set up a totally private blog. Another option is but blogs there may be accessible via blog rings.

While your printer will have a copy of your manuscript, it will be in PDF format so that you will not be able to make any changes. I suggest saving both a PDF and Word document of your completed books and a Word document of any works in progress. Don't forget to have a back-up copy of any cover art as well.

* Check your insurance policy to ensure that it covers your inventory of books. Many homeowners' policies do not cover inventory for a home based business. Ask your insurance agent to ensure that the books you have on hand would be protected in case of fire, flooding, or other unforeseen damage. Keep an up-to-date inventory of books so that you could be compensated in the event that you need to make a claim.

* Back up your computer. Purchase a back up system or subscribe to an on-line back up service. Your records of customers, book purchases, and tax information are priceless. If they were lost, it would cost you countless hours and many dollars to rebuild them.

* If you do your own shipping, create a back up-plan. Research fulfillment houses, virtual assistants, and the shipping options that your printer may provide. In the event that you are unable to ship your books for any reason, you will still be able to serve your customers and generate income if you have a back-up plan in place.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Does reading this article scare me because I know I am not adequately prepared to protect my books and records?

2. What steps could I take today to begin protecting my books and records?

Nobody likes to think about disaster preparedness. However, spending a few hours now following the steps in this article will give you the peace of mind that you will be able to continue writing and publishing your books no matter what unforeseen event may come your way. That peace of mind is worth its weight is gold.

After you've taken some steps to secure your manuscripts and your publishing business, why not make another donation of time, prayers, cash or clothing to help Katrina's survivors? They will be needing our support for a long time as they seek to rebuild their lives.

Who knows, you may just find something to write about in the process!

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