Welcome to Tuesday at the Scribes. I’d like to talk about pudding…well…really I’d like to talk about proofing. Proofreading, that is. But first, since I don’t want to be accused of false advertising, I’ve included my favorite recipe for Bread Pudding on our Scribe’s Savories and Sweets recipe page. There’s nothing low fat or cholesterol free about this yummy comfort inducing dessert, which doubles for breakfast in a pinch, (eggs+bread+milk=breakfast), but it was one of my dad’s specialties. My dad made the best peanut butter fudge on the planet. His bread pudding was a close second, although he would be the first to give credit to Betty Crocker. He always said that the secret to his success was in the details. I couldn’t agree more.
This leads me to my real reason for being here today. When it comes to producing a quality product, whether it be for publication or contest entries, the importance of proofreading cannot be overstated. And the more eyes, the better.
Part of my indie-pub process after the book has been professionally edited, is ordering proof copies from CreateSpace a few weeks before I upload to Kindle Direct Publishing, B&N Pub-it, and Smashwords. I give one to my editor to read through again, and I hand off a couple of copies to beta readers willing to write reviews and give me feedback. I go through my copy with a fine-tooth comb, finding a remarkable amount of typos, overused words, weak verbs, punctuation problems and formatting issues. It’s not that I haven’t been through the manuscript a hundred times already, but my eyes miss things on the computer that they pick up on the printed page.
It takes me a week to read through and mark up my copy. I try to read it like an editor, being picky about word choices, characterization, and adding depth or cutting anything non-essential. I’m basically looking for anything I need to change at the last minute to make the book really shine. From the missing quotation mark at the end of a sentence to ‘does the last line of the book tie it all together?’ I then collect feedback from my editor and my readers, make all the necessary changes to both the inside content and the cover of the book, and then upload again to CreateSpace. I order a second round of proof copies, go through it all again on my own, as well as having it proof read one more time, and then do a final upload.
At this point I order about fifty hardcopies to start. I’m relatively certain I can sell, gift, or use that many copies for reviews and giveaways, but it’s not so many that I’m “stuck” with them if there are any remaining errors that got by me and my team. One of the nice things about self-publishing is that if I still find errors, I can go back and fix them before I print any more hardcopies. I can also make corrections at any time on my digital copies, which takes a lot of the stress out of trying to get it exactly perfect. Since I’m all for saving myself time and headaches, however, I try to make it as best I can on the first print run.
You’d think after three projects, I’d have it down to a science, but no matter how many times I go through one of my books, I can always find something that needs fixing or changing. So before I do that final upload, I do hire a proofreader–someone who does this for a living. I pay this woman about $100, and it is money well spent. Even after all the eyes that have been on the book, she still finds a significant amount of tiny details that need fixing. She catches misplaced commas, compound words that I missed, and any misspellings that don’t show up on spell check that I and my editor may have missed.
Each time I’ve gone through this process, I’ve been down to the wire on getting those hardcopies back in time for my release date. This time is no different. I’ll have my second proof copy of SAVAGE CINDERELLA this Thursday, do a final read-through and have my “proofer” go through it, and do my upload on Sunday to get my final copies for the 15th. I pay some whopping shipping fees for that kind of turn-around time, but it’s a necessary evil to get it right and get it quick. No monkeying around. I’ll admit that I stress myself out a bit by cutting it so close and being so picky, but I can’t seem to do it any other way. I bet my dad would approve of my method. And to ease the stress, I can always bake some bread pudding while I wait.
How do you ensure that your work is “perfect” before you submit? Do you have a proof reader, critique partner, or beta readers? Any ideas on how I can streamline my process?