I have been proofreading my fourth title, Quit Hiding, Start Living! How Women Can Free Themselves From Past Hurts before it goes off to the printers in the next day or two. Several hours (into the night seasons/early hours) and 41,000 words later, I can say hand on heart, ‘I’m done!’.
By the way, by proofreading, I mean the reading of a printed copy (galley proof) or onscreen copy of your manuscript to detect/correct production-errors of your manuscript.
Whilst I could have cut corners and just browse through the book, I would have missed out on various ‘human’ errors that can occur throughout any book writing project. Whilst industry does allow for some errors, I think there is a fine line between a few and far too many. I feel it detracts from the quality of the book and the message it is trying to put across.
So to all budding self-publishers, here are a few crucial tips to save you money and help you produce a good quality book:
- Don’t cut corners or be lazy! The reality is that you will need to ‘proof’ your book at every level. By the time it goes to print, you may have even memorised your book owing to the number of times you have to do this. But this is necessary. Persevere!
- Don’t proof your writing whilst tired, distracted, in front of a TV or even bopping/humming along to music (none of these work for me). You may miss something crucial!
- Proof your work both on-screen (i.e. on your computer) AND in print. You would be amazed at what you pick up using both methods.
- If you are not happy with anything, let your page designer know – the earlier the better.
- As well all proofing the manuscript for errors, look at the structure, the layout, the contents page (is the numbering accurate?), title headings formats, consistency matters (do all chapter titles, subject headings, quotes, etc look the same?). You are looking at the design on many levels – things that should be there that are not and things that shouldn’t be there that are.
- Don’t leave major changes to your manuscript to the last minute. It will cost time and money. Be sure you are happy with it before it gets to the page designer as this is NOT the stage to be huge changes.