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Final Book Proofing Tips – Make It Perfect, Let It Go!

Final book proofing tips: Make it perfect and let it go

The time between your line edits and clicking that “submit for preorder” button is a daunting one. On the one hand, you’ve read your book so many times you’re sick of it. On the other, you have that fear: What if I miss something? To combat that fear, we’ve added some book proofing tips to help you get peace of mind.

Get it Printed

We’re digital people, so we don’t print out manuscripts. Ever. (Save the trees!) The lone exception comes at the time of final proofing, when we order the first proof from CreateSpace. This is quite possibly the best and worst part of the process. Best, because it’s finally a real book! Worst, because it’s time to find those last oopsies.

A note on proofing and your service provider: If you’re using a hybrid approach with CreateSpace and Ingram, know that you will have to approve the book on Ingram before you can order a printed copy and pay for any edits for new versions. Therefore, we recommend using CreateSpace to proof your book.

Try Not to Read It

Final book proofing tips: Prioritize your edits to know what's nitpickingAfter an unboxing video, we get right to work with a red pen. That’s right, bibliophiles, we’ll mark up that pretty book like there’s no tomorrow. Because the book has already been through a line editor, there shouldn’t be too many issues. But even the best editor misses things, and you might find small things you forgot to incorporate as well.

Do your best to stay out of the story. For this work, it’s better to take breaks than try to eat the whole apple. If you find yourself slipping into the action, step away until you’ve rested enough.

Keep an Eye for Formatting

One of the benefits of getting a printed proof is you’ll not only get a chance to see the text, but any custom formatting. This is the time where you can adjust spacing or size to move a scene break from one page to another, or fix any issues with your chapter headings.

Note: If formatting is making your head spin, contact us for a quote.


Final book proofing tips: You may be tempted to make big changes. Resist the urgeYou may be tempted to tweak things in your book at this point. Maybe change a phrase, maybe adjust a plot point. Resist this urge unless it’s absolutely necessary. All authors are perfectionists, but if you continue dithering in the details, you’ll never get the book out the door. This is why we recommend setting a deadline to have the book finalized. That way, you’ll have to decide: Is this edit necessary or just nit-picking?

Another surefire way to know if you’re nitpicking: If you’ve flagged something in the printed proof, but upon reading it in the manuscript, you find it doesn’t bother you.

Other Options for Proofing

Because we don’t trust our own eyes, once we’ve proofed the book, we enlist some of our most eagle-eyed readers to take a gander. This is an oft-used double-win for indie authors: You’re releasing early versions to your favorite readers and getting help finding typos. Without fail, our readers always come back with different typos, telling us that truly no one is infallible.

If you don’t have readers yet, or you don’t trust them, another great tool is to listen to the book using a text-to-speech function. It comes standard in all Mac computers, and is available through some programs for Windows. While we’ve used this tactic before on blog posts and shorter texts, sitting and listening to a book for a few hours has proven to be difficult. But if you want to make absolutely sure, it’s a great option.

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The Importance of Editing For Self-Published Authors

Why is editing so important for self-published authors? Find out in the blog today

Welcome to the first in our next blog series, focusing on the magic of editing. We at SGR-P are both providers of editorial services and accepters of it. For the next few weeks, we’ll talk about different editorial topics, from self-editing to finding your betas. We hope that it helps shine some light on this subject, and convinces you why editing for self-published authors isn’t something to be ignored.

What is Editing

Editing for self-published authors: Depending on your writing style, editing can happen at any time in the drafting process.Let’s start at the beginning (the very best place to start…). When we talk about editing, we are talking about a multitude of different steps in the publication process.

There are several kinds of editing out there:

  • Content editing is the process of looking at your story from a 10,000 foot view, and providing feedback. Generally, your content editor doesn’t help with typos or line edits (although they can point out clunky phrases). They will point out inconsistencies in characters and plotholes.
  • Line editing takes your 10,000 foot view and drops it down to a 100 foot view. Your line editor may blend with a copy editor to find typos and grammatical errors.
  • Copy editing goes even further to a 10 foot view, focusing solely on the grammar and typos
  • Quality Assurance (QA) editing is the final review for typos and errors that the previous three editing processes missed.

Depending on your drafting style, it can happen as you write, or it can happen in one big chunk (or both). Where and when you need to outsource depends on your own comfort zone.

The Publishing Process

For our alter-ego, S. Usher Evans, she follows the same basic process:

  • Step 1: Finish a “first draft.” Sush likes to self-edit along the way, so it takes her a little longer to get those first 75,000 words down. Generally 3ish months.
  • Step 2: Let it sit for a week, then read on the Kindle. This is another self-edit, where she rips her manuscript apart with the ferocity of the most persnickety reader, versus the persnickety eye of a writer.
  • Step 3: After repeating Step 2 once or twice, the manuscript is released to her beta readers. These lovely loves are readers and other authors who provide an outside perspective to the story. After incorporating those edits once more, it gets another view on the Kindle.
  • Step 5: The manuscript gets shipped off to the incredible Danielle Fine, who has been our go-to external editor for 11 of our 13 books. She rips it apart, as she does.
  • Step 6: Once Dani’s edits are incorporated, it’s time for the first printed proof. One more read with an actual red pen.
  • Step 7: The final step is to ship the nearly-complete manuscript to our bevy of QA readers, who have a keen eye for typos and formatting errors.
  • Step 8: The book is ready for preorder!

Why Is Editing So Important?

You might be asking yourself why should you go through all this trouble. You’re a pretty godo editor, your good at finding typos and whatnot.

For self published authors, it's important to remember nobody is perfect. Good editing will help reduce mistakes.Did you find the typos in the previous sentence? (It was a test!)

One sentence is easy. A 400 page book is another story. Even our QA readers end up finding different things in the book, although there is a lot of overlap. No one person is infallible, and you shouldn’t have to be.

Besides that, editing isn’t just finding typos, as we said above. A good content editor can take your book from okay to fantastic by helping you clarify your thoughts. A line editor will give you a punch list of issues in your book to knock out. While you may be able to find some great beta readers out there, a paid editor is a contracted resource. They will take the time to make sure your book is the best it can possibly be.

All of this boils down to one basic idea: You need a paid editor if you want to pursue a career (or even moderate success) as an author.

Time-Value Proposition

For authors, you’re expected to do a whole lot of stuff. Build an audience. Grow your social media. Develop marketing campaigns with blogs and Instagram posts and whatnot. And keep writing more books, of course.

When you outsource your book to a paid editor, you are placing worth on your own time. You’re saying, “I could spend six months reviewing each chapter in painstaking detail and still risk issues. Or I could hand it off to you and get it done in a month.”

We also like to use this scenario: An editor will run you around $400 (depending on word count). If you publish your book on Amazon, you’ll have to sell 197 books at $2.99 (with a profit of $2.04) to break even on that edit job. If you don’t use an editor… you may not sell any books at all. And no authors wants their debut novel littered with one-star reviews about poor editing.

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