Here are 7 things to consider when self-editing and proofreading your own book. Whether you need to do it all
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
- 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
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
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 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
How disappointing would that be, instead of it being a joy and a milestone in
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.