If you are self-publishing, then proofreading your manuscript is a really challenging task — and you’ll kick yourself if you find a mistake after you’ve told everyone about the book. No matter how many times you’ve read through your work, it’s amazing how often errors can sneak through to the final stages. The problem: You’re so familiar with the text that you see what you think you have written rather than what you actually wrote. For this reason, at the very least, it’s good to ask a few friends to help you proofread.
Don’t forget to carefully proofread the cover, copyright, and title pages as well as any indices, tables of contents, and dedications — mistakes in these areas happen surprisingly often.
So, short of hiring a professional proofreader, what else can you do to make sure your book is as close to perfect as possible? Here are some tips.
10 Tips For Proofreading Your Book
1. Put your writing aside for a while. This allows you to see it again with fresh eyes that are more likely to spot errors.
2. Look at your weaknesses. Do you regularly misspell or repeat words? Do you make particular grammar or punctuation errors? If you are aware of these weaknesses, take extra care to search and spot them.
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3. Read your work out loud. If you read aloud, your ear might catch errors that your eyes may have missed. Alternatively, you can use text-to-speech software.
4. Try proofreading backwards! To spot typographical errors, read your work from the end to the beginning, either word by word, sentence by sentence, or paragraph by paragraph. This disconnects your mind from the content and helps you focus on the text. Particularly useful for checking the cover.
5. Keep style and usage handbooks readily available and use them! The Guardian Style Guide is a good choice.
6. Watch out for those pesky contractions, apostrophes, and homonyms.
7. Run the spell check to catch any obvious errors. However, don’t rely on this alone as it can’t always be completely accurate.
8. Highlight all punctuation marks so that you can evaluate each one for accuracy.
9. Proofread a printed version of your work. People read differently on screen and on paper, so print out a copy of your writing for another read.
10. Get someone else to proofread it. A fresh pair of eyes is a great way to spot errors.
Remember, nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. But hopefully these tips will help ensure your self-published book looks its best when it ends up in readers’ hands.
If you have favorite proofreading tips, please share them in the comments below!
Anna Lewis has a passion for finding ways that new technology can enable people to engage in new and exciting ways with books and authors. She is the founder of CompletelyNovel.com, an online publishing community offering self-publishing tools such as print-on-demand, as well as the co-founder of ValoBox, a company which works with publishers to create web-friendly books.
A version of this post first appeared on CompletelyNovel.com, an online publishing community dedicated to self-publishing tools and services.