You’ve finished your book. Yay!! The work’s not over yet, though. You go back and re-read it, making revisions, read it again; give it to your significant other after each revision to read – heck, when you’re both finished, you almost have it memorized and could recite lines back and forth to each other. One more read, one more time just to make sure.
Next you steel yourself, break out the Excedrin and get ready to hit publish, at the end of which, you’re either singing Hallelujah, doing the happy chair dance, or reaching for the artificial tears because your eyeballs have turned into two Brillo pads from starring at the computer screen and correcting formatting errors.
That magical push of the “Enter” key and BAM. You’re online, live, at Amazon. Time to sit back, relax and wait for the reviews to start pouring in. Visions of sweet accolades dance on the wings of Angels, waiting to rain down on you as you drift into a much needed slumber.
Just as you predict, the emails from your loyal writer friends start filling your mailbox. You smile as you read them, “Great book! Fabulous. Um, do you want me to send you some typos I found?”
Proofreading. I don’t care how many books you have written – whether it’s your first or one hundred and first, there are going to be typos, timeline hiccups in the story, an incorrect form of tense, improper shifts in POV, or some other type of inconsistency. Nobody can beat out a clean draft. NOBODY. That’s why it’s important to dole it out to someone fresh, preferably an unbiased third-party. No matter whether you have sent it to an Editor or not (and, I hope you have – I’ll touch on that in another blog), a Proofreader picks up where the Editor leaves off.
If you want a polished work, get it proofread! First impressions are vital in a book’s life. I’m a big fan of the “Click to Look Inside” feature on Amazon; or, “Read Instantly” on Barnes and Noble. No matter how interesting the book may sound or the story begin, nothing will make me hit the “x” to close the screen and move on to preview someone else’s book, than to stumble across a typo in the sample. You just lost a buyer of your book, and possibly, all the rest of your books to come after. It’s not an issue of “everybody makes mistakes,” it’s an issue of putting your best foot forward for the reader and gain the reader’s interest. No matter how good a story is, when a reader is absorbed and moving at a brisk pace, the flo sops ata mestake,
The thing is, even a Proofreader is not infallible, nor is an Editor, BUT they’re going to make reading your book as comfortable for your reader as possible. Instead of fifteen or fifty errors, you may only have three. And please, don’t even think that Word or some other type of spellcheck is going to catch everything. No program will be able to figure out that when the girl looked out to see, you were referring to an ocean and not vision.
Cost to a writer usually makes the decision on whether to hire an editor and proofreader. You can make do with one, if need be, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Like I said, a Proofreader takes up where the Editor leaves off. However, if you can only afford one, go with a Proofreader. A good one will make editing suggestions along with catching punctuation, misspellings, and other inconsistencies as I already mentioned. Then, when your book has done well in sales and you’re ready to publish the next, hire yourself that Editor.
Being new to the publishing world, I am already working with an Editor and at the proper time, will be hiring a Proofreader. That may sound silly to some since I am a proofreader for other authors, but it goes along with the saying that “he who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” There is no way I would be able to proofread my own book. I want that “fresh” eye and read.
Check rates. Hire a proofreader. Like everything else, the prices range. Read the books of your author friends. If you think it’s polished, ask who they use. If the price is too high, look around some more. If you like what you’ve read here, contact me. I’m taking on work right now – just drop me an email. I’d be happy to get in touch and work with you.
The point is, you, the writer, don’t (and shouldn’t) go this alone. You want your reader to remember your book for the story it told, not the words it took to tell it.
(And, for those who noticed the title, YES, it was intentional, and aimed to drive home the point that everyone needs a Proofreader 🙂 )