Don't You Dare Skip Proofreading!
Updated: Jan 27
Hello dear readers! It's Wednesday, which means I am over on my YouTube channel, talking about books. This week I am talking about the step in the book publishing process you can never, ever, ever, ever, ever (are there enough evers in there yet?) skip: Proofreading!
A proofreader is the final gate between your book and the world. Proofreaders save us all tons of embarrassment. Proofreaders are heroes. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their work.
I started my career in this business as a proofreader, and I still proofread, to keep my skills sharp. Proofreading takes training. Our brains fill in a lot of information for us. This is a little evolutionary gift, making our day-to-day lives easier; if the information is deemed extraneous to keeping us alive, often enough our brains simply don't show it to us.
Example: In the the sentence before this one, I used the word extraneous. Now a question: how many times does the word the appear in the sentence before this one? Did you catch it?
This kind of stuff is what goes through a proofreader's mind all day long. They are magical! They are worth every single nickel you will ever pay them (and if you've been paying attention, you know you'll need to pay them fairly and timely!). If you are traditionally published, your publisher will take care of this part of things for you; if you self-publish, you will need to oversee this part of things yourself.
The proofreader steps in after your book has been laid out in a design program. The average book takes two rounds of proofs. And when your proofreader finds 30 things that no one else has found in your book yet, don't be annoyed—be grateful!
Any time human hands touch your book, there is the chance for errors to be introduced. This is why we save proofreading for the very end of the process. And this is also why your proofreader should be someone who has never seen your material before; "fresh eyes" as we so often say in this business. Don't think you can proofread your book yourself, and don't think an untrained friend or family member will catch all a professional proofer will. Don't ask your development editor or copyeditor to also proofread your book—the proofreader needs to be someone completely new.
Wondering how to find a good proofreader? Much the same way you went about finding a development editor. Below are links to some good places to look:
Happy reading, keep writing, and stay tuned!