I’ve recently been uploading a new book to KDP after going over each chapter many times and making sure I got all the formatting right. This was a paperback, so I used their previewer to check through the pages. First impression: Yay! All looks good! Pictures all laid out properly and everything.
So, in anticipation of formatting the e-book, I thought it might be wise to give the whole thing a final proof read. It’s redundant by then of course, how many times have I been over each of those chapters?
And how many amateur mistakes can I make after seven years of indie publishing?
A lot, apparently. The first thing I noticed when I examined the paperback preview more closely was that I had neglected to enter the page numbers. So, back to correct the file…
Then on the second upload I found a paragraph in the front matter that is specific to the E-book format (immediate facepalm). By then I decided I should do a complete proof read to catch any other little mistakes that had somehow slipped past all the previous edits.
It wasn’t just a matter of typos. Those were minimal, although it’s a well-known phenomenon that you often don’t see your own typos because you know what should be there and the brain just fills it in correctly. This is why having an editor is wise.
Going back to read the early chapters of something you haven’t looked at for a while can illuminate minor changes of phrase that could be improved, or even repetition. I’ve encountered this many times not only with my own books, but on editing the work of others. In fact, I’ve tried to get far enough ahead on my project list to be able to put finished manuscripts aside for a couple of months to then read with fresh eyes.
It doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes timing can be subject to promises made or promotional events and the book has to be released asap. What I want to suggest is that even if you’re pushing a deadline, every book should have a final proof read to catch all those little things that cause embarrassment when they slip through as well as the more subtle opportunities to rephrase here and there. It improves the finished product and presents the writer as a professional rather than some slap-dash indie scribbler.
Even if you’ve paid someone for a professional edit, it’s always worth giving the product a final check. Look how many big publisher books still come out with typos! Especially in fiction. It’s human nature that if you’re sufficiently caught up in a story, the tiny anomalies go by unnoticed too easily. But someone will notice.
Don’t believe me? I challenge any writer, indie or traditional, who has more than one book released to go back and read the first one with fresh eyes. Note for yourself how many improvements can be made from fixing a typo here and there or changing an occasional phrase.
Even if it’s had 37 re-writes, I’ll bet you find some. Trust me.
While we need to put each project to bed at some point rather than continually finding more details to improve, I highly recommend a fresh eyes proof read before releasing a new title. It’s always worth it in the end.
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