Here are 7 things to consider when self-editing and proofreading your own book. Whether you need to do it all yourself, or check someone else’s work, here are some tips to make it easier.

1. Checking your book origination (formatting) before you pass it on

Good origination matters, where you’ve kept using the styles in Word to consistently format your book.  This makes it easy to reformat later on

  • to a Kindle version
  • to a full-size A4-printable PDF version you want email people, that they can print out themselves
  • turn into presentation slides

By making sure that your final draft behaves itself and it’s set up properly, it can make it really flexible for you later on. Part of your proofreading should involve checking “under the hood” that your book template is performing efficiently

2. Retain control and consistency with a style guide and template

One of the writing techniques I recommend is to use a style guide. A style guide is a document that explains more about your preferences and tone of voice. For example do you prefer to spell smartphone as “smart phone” or “smartphone” without the space. Or how about “email” and “e-mail?”. It’s important to make a note of those things, so you have a reminder to keep you consistent, and other people are aware of your “rules” when it comes to writing.

If somebody else is going to do the formatting for you, that’s fine. Show them the original book template you started with, so they know how your book is supposed to look. If any, “rogue” styling has crept in or something is not quite lining up properly, they can see how it was supposed to look.

And, remember, do share your style guide with people doing your proofreading and editing to avoid that personal preference problem.

By sharing your style guide and your book template with others, you can retain control, even if you’re not at the coal face.

3. Avoid risking your credibility

It’s important to get rid of any remaining mistakes, because this is how you protect your professional reputation.

A book that is

  • shoddily presented
  • looks padded out with boring filler
  • cursed with a duff cover
  • riddled with mistakes and typos

will undermine your credibility and I don’t want that happening. We all know this correlation between mistakes and credibility.

4. Avoid the disappointment of your first printed version turning into a scruffy damp squib

So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I’ve been looking at this book for a long time now this’ll have to do!” Do try and up your game. Keep the focus and make it the best it can be.

This means that when your first printed copy arrives through the letterbox and on your doormat, you can open it up and be confident it’s going to look really good!

Imagine how disappointed you would feel if you hadn’t taken the time to check your book and it’s littered with mistakes, when you get that very first printed copy.

How disappointing would that be, instead of it being a joy and a milestone in life.

It’s a reminder not to cut corners. Again, I don’t want that happening to you.

5. Control your outsourcers so your standards are met and your weaknesses dealt with

It’s important to learn this editorial process so you can manage outsourcers. You can

  • brief them more effectively
  • work with them more effectively
  • stay more in control of your finished book

so that’s why even if you think you won’t proofread or edit something, it’s useful to know what’s involved.

6. Boost your confidence levels when it comes to promotion

And finally, it’s really important to get your book in tip-top condition for launch. You want to feel really confident that this is the best you can make it and then get it out there ready for sale.

If you look anxious, edgy or doubtful about your book, people will notice. The more tiny mistakes in your book, the more reticent you will become with your book promotion

7. Don’t use proofreading and perfectionism as a reason to procrastinate

Whilst it’s important to be thorough, avoid the trap of slipping into perfectionism. (I’ll fess up – I really struggle with perfectionism 🙁 and it doesn’t get easier to ignore. with over a quarter of a million words on this blog I can find a lot I constantly want to change or where I screwed up!)

It’s better to get your book out there, with a few very minor mistakes, than leave it sitting on your hard disk – that makes your book a 100% failure! A missing or extra full stop on a bulleted list is not worth dying in a ditch over.

If you do have perfectionist tendencies remember you have trained yourself to hone in on the 1% that’s wrong, not the 99% that’s right. Often I’ll see something and gasp in horror at how appalling it is, 1 pixel out on a graphic, a 1mm margin variation on cells in a data table compared with another table 57 pages earlier. Someone else looks on at me baffled, and not seeing the same heinous errors I am!

If that sounds familiar, do what you can to make your book a high standard, ignore the doubting inner voice and get your book printed!

This week’s feature

I am sharing 3 blog posts this week about line-editing and proofreading, to give you some helpful hints and tips to make it easier for you.

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