Today, with the possibility of self-publishing online, a lot of new authors publish their manuscripts without proofreading them. Proofreading is the process that comes after editing your manuscript. During the proofreading process, the author (or whoever does the proofreading) is not looking for plot holes, discontinuity, or any other errors connected to the story – these have been covered by the editor during the editing process. Proofreading focuses on other kinds of errors in the manuscript, some of which we’ve described below.
1. Forget content
In order to do a perfect job while proofreading your book, you need to be able to isolate yourself from the content that you’re reading. The kind of mistakes you need to be looking for will be on the level of a paragraph, sentence, word, and letters. When we’re reading for fun, we are enjoying the content and it’s much more difficult to pay attention on whether the words are spelled right or wrong. That is why you should either forget about the content and just focus on the words, or use a text-to-speech tool to help you discover the misspelled words.
2. Language and grammar errors
Language and grammar errors often occur in longer sentences, and should be looked for at the level of a paragraph. It can be easy to mix tenses or clauses in a longer sentence, and usually, reading the same paragraph from the beginning will make the mistake easier to fix, because you can follow the text – and the context of said paragraph.
3. Repeating errors
One thing you should keep an eye for are repeating errors – because after you’ve discovered a repeating error, you need to be on the lookout for it specifically. Make a list of errors that keep occurring – it will make it easier to keep track of how many times an error has been repeated. Additionally, you can use that list to study where, how and why you’ve made those errors, which will help you not make them in the future. Or, if you do make those errors again in your writing, you can use the list when you proofread your next book.
4. Repetitive words
Repetitive words are a bit trickier to detect, especially if your mind starts to wander and you begin to lose concentration. You will need to focus and concentrate to detect the words you tend to use a lot. A good technique of discovering repetitive words is to read the text out loud – usually one page at a time. This means that you will both hear and read the words that have been used more often than the others (and this way, you will also be able to determine whether the repetition will annoy the readers or not), thus detecting the repetitive words will become easier. Once you’ve found the words that have been used repeatedly, you need to decide whether you’re going to change them, or not – because there is a high possibility that the repeated words are not interfering with the reading experience.
5. Formatting mistakes
Formatting mistakes occur during the formatting of the book for printing, or for online publishing. During the proofreading process, you should look for those mistakes along with the others. Some of the mistakes that might occur are large spaces between words or letters, between paragraphs, or between the lines. Other mistakes that might occur, especially in e-books, are empty pages that break up chapters, the size and shape of the font changes throughout the book, or the formatting of the internal and external dialogue changing within chapters. You must discover these mistakes and fix them before you publish your e-book (or print out your hard copy), because if you don’t, you will come across as an unprofessional author, and the readers might not be willing to pick up another of your books.
Image credit: Henry O on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.