Writing and publishing a book is not a singular thing to do or achieve.
It is a series of some steps that need to be done in the right order over a period. And the end product is the book.
After spending almost a year writing the book and editing, I am now at the final stages of the editing process.
As a summary here are the 3 key steps you should be taking for a professional edit:
- Structural/development editing
- Copy/line editing
- Proofread: and this is where I am currently at
Why Use a Proofreader?
At this stage of the editing process, I know I won’t be able to see all the mistakes I may have made. This also applies to my editor as she is already familiar with my book during the 5 rounds of edits she has made.
The new edits I have made would also have brought up new issues and these need to be checked too.
Therefore I need to borrow a fresh pair of eyes, someone who has never seen the manuscript as they will be better able to spot errors.
I also need someone to read the book from a reader’s perspective.
Proofreading is a reasonably priced read-through and focuses on final checks on typos, grammar and word issues.
Although some mistakes may slip through, as a professional indie-author, I want to give my readers the best prodcut I can create. I respect their time and if they read my book, I want them to have a great experience.
The Value of a Proofread
Last week I completed the final stages of the editing process. This is when you send the book to a professional Proofreader.
I didn’t fully realise the importance of having your book proofread by a professionally until after I got the book back.
Having already gone through at least five rounds of editing, as well as self-editing the book at least 40 times, I wasn’t expecting many changes from the proofreader.
Obviously, I had no idea what a difference a proofreader could make as he came back with a whopping 4,715 comments and edits!!!
After haveing a mini meltdown and wondering how I was going to process all these changes and edits, I had a cup of tea and sat down to go through the edits one by one.
I wouldn’t advise you to accept all changes blindly as proofreaders can still make errors too.
Also, you will learn about your writing and see where you make common mistakes and see how to prevent those from happening again.
So I took this as another step in my journey of becoming an author and a lesson in writing craft.
How I Processed The New Edits
I broke the mammoth task down into sizeable chunks and completed all these edits in 7 days. Here are some tips on what I learnt and how you can survive your own proofreading experience.
#1. Don’t panic if you get a lot of comments/ edits back
Don’t be shocked at the number of edits that come back to you and don’t take it personally.
By the time my manuscript reached the proofreader, the script had been read by at least three different people at least 40 times. I know for sure that I must have read the book at least 30 times over the course of the year.
Most of these, upon closer inspection, will be to correct question marks, putting the commas in the right places and adding in adjoining words such as ‘and’, ‘if, ‘that’, ‘which’. So upon closer inspection, it wasn’t such a big deal.
#2. It helps to get a fresh pair of eyes
Your proofreader should be someone who is trained to proofread.
They spot different things from a copy editor.
My editor Leila is amazing, but she cannot also proofread the book as she has already read my book at least three times.
Your proofreader needs to be someone who will read your book for the very first time as they will also read it from the perspective of a reader.
#3. Take Breaks
I tackled 3-4 chapters per day and took a break in between each chapter as I know my brain is in the habit of skim reading over certain sections of the book that it is familiar with.
Taking breaks helps you to spot errors and mistakes. So make sure you take them!
#4. Read Backwards
I got a great tip from Sai, a fellow indie author, who suggested I read the book backwards!
This felt so weird, but it worked. It stopped me from skipping ahead in the text and reading it in a different flow made me pay more attention to the words. As a result, it was easier to spot errors.
#5. Read out loud
Another tip I have come across from many authors is to read the book out loud. I tried this for the first few chapters, but it got too tiring. Perhaps I will try this for the next book.
#6. Go Pro!
And my final tip- always: use a Professional Proofreader (rather than friends/family) to give the manuscript a final polish.
They are specifically trained to pick up tiny nuances, and though I was shocked at the number of edits he came back with, I knew he had done a thorough job. I’d rather be made aware of all those edits BEFORE I publish the book.
I want the book to the best product I can produce and knowing I have used professionals makes me feel confident I am putting out a quality product for my readers.
This is also how you show the greatest amount of respect to your readers. Because they deserve quality products.
Do you have any tips on how to proofread your book? Please join in the conversation by posting a comment below or like and share.
Also published on Medium.