Proofreading Your Own Work

Proofreading your own work is a colossal pain in the nether regions. If you are like me, you’ve already read every paragraph in your novel a dozen times or more.

I might write a few paragraphs and then go back to where I started and read it from there to be certain that the paragraphs I just wrote are moving the story in the direction I wanted and that I’ve maintained continuity. I get so familiar with my work that I’m not sure I’m really seeing it anymore. That’s how you miss typos. Microsoft’s Word program is really good, but sadly not quite good enough to rely on that alone. And it’s the homophones that will get you:  right for write, their instead of they’re or there, etc. And then there is syntax, grammar and semantics.

It’s pretty much essential to have someone else read your manuscript before you publish it. But who do you enlist to do that? Finding beta readers seems like it should be simple. You walk up to a couple of friends, ask them if they’ll be beta readers for you, explain what you want from them, and voila! A few days, or weeks, or months (and possibly an non-disclosure agreement) later you have a nice corrected version of your manuscript and an honest critique of the work. Yeah. Right.

This has not worked for me so far with the exception of my husband as a beta reader. He’s actually read my first novel twice and found things we both missed the first time around. He likes my book, thinks it’s great, and that everyone will love it. But he loves me, so he’s a bit biased. Of all the people to whom I have given my manuscript, he’s the only one to have replied. It’s disheartening.

You can get a paid beta reader. You can even get a paid editor to read your work. Ideally, you’ve got an agent and they take care of all that. But if you are working with very little money and none of the agents (and there have been many) you have queried are interested in taking you on, these are not always options.

So a focused attention to detail is essential if you are going to self-publish your novel. If you proofread your own work, you have to read each and every word as a separate entity (I’ve heard it helps to read it out loud). It’s tiring, and still you will miss things.

Yesterday, I finally finished the last proof reading of my manuscript. I wanted to shout for joy, but my enthusiasm was a bit dampened by the fact that now I need to format it for publication.

I got started on that today. So far it is going well enough.

I decided to go with a 6″ x 9″ trim size. I have a couple of paperback novels in that size and it seems nice. If my program is correct, the finished product will be about 430 pages. I can change the size, though, if I need to after looking at what KDP has to say about that size. And yes, I’ve decided to go with Kindle Direct Publishing. There are pros and cons, but so far the pros seem to outweigh the cons. At least for me.

At any rate, while I am formatting and checking page breaks and the like, I will most likely also incorporate a quick and dirty proof read. I’m a little too OCD to pass up that opportunity. Dang. Make that double dang.

Published by Dianne Lehmann

I'm a writer. But I'm also a wife and a mom to a couple of fur babies. You could call me a cook (but never a chef, I'm not that good) and provisioner as well. Laundress? Yeah. Probably. I design jewelry and I crochet. But mostly I love to write. I love words and how they sound. I love their meanings and origins. I love stringing them together. And of course, I love to read. Thinking about it just now, I realize that what I love most is life and the people around me with a special place set aside for my wonderful husband, our adorable dog and our inscrutable cat. It's the world and the people in it that fuels my writing. So thanks to you all for being the amazing beings that you are.

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