So you’ve finished rewriting your book and you’ve had an appraisal and an edit, and now it’s time to get even more help. In this post, we look at proofreading.
The end is near, well not really, but you are a lot closer. Proofreading is the final, vital step in the manuscript preparation process. At this point, your story should be complete and all the rewriting done.
A while ago, I wrote a post about 5 Things That Happen After You’ve Typed THE END, and since then I’ve received many questions about all the steps and processes. I thought it may be worthwhile to explore each step in a little more detail. In previous posts, we covered Step 2: The Appraisal and Step 3: The Edit. In this post, we look at Step 4: Proofreading.
The fact that I am possibly the world’s worst proofreader makes me weirdly qualified to tell you why a proofreader is important.
Note: an editor is not a proofreader. You edit and finish the story then go to a proofreader. One person can offer both services, but not at the same time. Editing and proofreading together will only have you paying the proofreader twice. It’s almost as productive as this scenario below.
Why Do You Need A Proofreader?
1. Typos Are Annoying
I don’t really have to tell you this, right? Typos that can change the meaning of a word are generally irritating.
2. Typos Destroy Credibility
Your research can be impeccable, your story can be the best, but a typo is a bit like hitting a brick wall. Not so nice.
3. Typos Remove The Reader From The Story World
You’ve spent hours crafting an imaginary world. You’ve led your reader there. They are immersed and enchanted and then you spoil it with a typo and boom: they’re back in reality.
4. You Cannot Do It Yourself
This is not a DIY project, unless it is your superpower. Most of us need a fresh pair of eyes on our words. We become blind to our writing.
5. Autocorrect Is Evil
It changes ‘from’ to ‘form’. It doesn’t differentiate between ‘you’ and ‘your’ and it doesn’t pick up missing words. Yes, spellcheck has improved and I’m a huge fan of Grammarly (even though it uses US English), but it still doesn’t catch ‘em all.
6. Punctuation Is Tricky
They’re so tiny. Missing a punctuation mark here or there won’t make a big difference, right?
7. It Matters To The Market
Traditional publishers will judge all aspects of your manuscript and proofreading can help improve your chances. The most common complaint about self-published books is their poor quality. Make your manuscript stand out by having a brilliant story that is presented error-free.
8. Continuity And A Style Guide
A proofreader will help create a consistent style guide for your manuscript. This will include things like when to use capitals, and they will ensure continuity with bullets point and numbering. They’ll also check if your dialogue formatting is correct and find other little niggly inconsistencies.
The Last Word
Proofreading is a skill. A good proofreader can really enhance your manuscript. I wish I had a proofreader by my side all day. That said, it is an expensive service, but certainly a worthwhile investment.
In the next post we will discuss publishing.
by Mia Botha
Buy Mia’s book on how to write short stories: Write the crap out of it and other short story writing advice
If you enjoyed this post, you will love:
- The Edit
- The Appraisal
- The Final Draft & Rewriting
- 31 Writing Prompts For August 2020
- Write The Crap Out Of It And Other Short Story Writing Advice
- How To Write A Book Blurb For Your Short Story Collection
- Why You Should Do Short Story Writing Exercises
- 5 Reasons To Join A Short Story Writing Community
- 12 More Reasons To Write Short Stories
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