Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some Thoughts on Proofreading

I'm thinking about proofreading today because I”m doing a final read of the next book in the Montbleu Murder series, A Dead Novelist at Canterbury Falls. Proofreading well is probably one of the most important things you can do for the success of your book. Of course, you need an intriguing plot and likeable characters, but many people are turned off by a poorly edited book. In saying this, I can't claim to have conquered the problem, but I'm working at it.

I review books and belong to several book review sites. It's amazing how many people comment on the grammar and poor editing of books. It turns some people off an author completely. I have to admit that it's not fun to be distracted from reading by finding errors. They tend to leap out at you. So here are a few suggestions.

  1. Finish your book, put it away for awhile then take it out and do a thorough review. I thought my latest book was finished until I put it away for three weeks. The errors just leaped off the page.
  2. Proofread in a different format. If you wrote the book, or article on 8x10 double spaced pages, try 6x9 single spaced. The new format doesn't let your eye skip words the way it does when you're familiar with the text.
  3. Read the piece aloud. This does two things. Reading aloud lets you hear as well as see the awkward places. It also slows the eye so you're more likely to catch errors.

Proofreading is particularly important for self-published authors. Readers are more likely to consider you incompetent, if the book is riddled with errors. I have seen books published by major publishers that contained a fair number of errors, but somehow people tend to forgive this more easily, possibly because they're supposed to be experts.

I hope these tips are helpful. I'd love to hear your tips. I could use them on my next book.