Saturday, 10 September 2016

As good as it gets - Karen Bush




A case in point


You have laboured for months, crafting your brilliant book ... and then toiled for further long days and nights, editing, tweaking, refining, proof reading and formatting it.
          And now you are all ready to do the most satisfying bit ... pressing that publish button.
But wait!
          Are you really, really sure it's as good as it can be - hopefully the content is good, but is the appearance up to scratch?
         Yes, of course you are sick to the back teeth by now with reading it through and checking and double-checking it on the previewer (you did double check it, didn't you?)
          And yes, of course it is very easy to make changes after publishing - but be honest: how many of us actually bother to read through our own books again once we've got to the publication stage? So errors could quite easily exist without you being aware of them ... 
         And those uncaught errors might - just might - be sufficient to make the difference between your book dazzling your readers and making them want to buy more of your stuff ... or being so irritated by poor layout, spelling, grammar and all those other little things that interfere with the smooth reading process and make your masterpiece look a shambling amateur affair, that they don't bother with further purchases.
          So, before you press that button, wait just a little longer.
         Set it to one side for at least a month, and then go back to it with a fresher eye. Any tweaks necessary will be more obvious and typos more likely to jump out at you when you don't know it by heart. And a tip - don't do it all on a screen, as it can be incredibly easy to miss errors. Print out a hard copy - or if producing a paper edition too, order up a proof copy. Witness the book at the top of this page: it was spotless when I proof read it on the computer. Honest. And I checked through three times, both on Kindle and on the clever little CreateSpace previewer. But look how much needed correcting when the proof copy arrived. Admittedly, only a few were typos - more were spacing and layout issues - but I'd never have caught any of them otherwise.
If you really cannot bear to look through it one more time,
then get yourself a competent proofreader.

SPEAKING OF hitting the publish button ... as of 1st October you will be able to buy our Halloween spooktacular, Ghosts Electric.
Or you could always go pre-order it now HERE ...

Essential Halloween reading!

8 comments:

Katherine Roberts said...

Oh, so true Karen! Although that seems like remarkably few changes to me... I can never resist changing odd words and punctuation at proof stage, even when they're not actually an error.

I'm fascinated by your colour coding... what do the green/blue/orange tags mean?

madwippitt said...

It's a different matter when most of the words aren't those written by other people!
Colour coding? Erm ... nothing ... they are just re-usable post its I had lying around! :-) They have already been through a couple of other books and will hopefully still be tacky enough to manage a few more volumes!

Bill Kirton said...

Excellent advice, Karen. It's typos not robots which are going to take over the world. I swear they self-generate; the publish button is their cue to pullulate recklessly. They insinuate themselves into a flawless text, corrode it and cause the structured, meaningful sense to mutate into a fractured absurdity (and thus a truer representation of life). When I co-wrote Just Write with Kathleen McMillan, we both proof-read it, as did at least 2 copy editors at Routledge. One of the points we'd stressed throughout the text was the need to watch out for them (typos). When I sent a copy to my brother, who taught English, he wrote back with enthusiastic praise but pointed out that, in one particular sentence, leaving out the word 'not' had meant we were encouraging readers to do the opposite of what they should.

Reb MacRath said...

And true. And I've been converted at last--am planning to incorporate professional proofing into the next book's budget.

madwippitt said...

Here's a tip Bill that I learned through sheer hard experience ... when sending text back and forth, it appears to suffer from all sort of defaults to original (including fonts as well as typos etc) and other annoying corruptions (renegade apostrophes for one) every time it is downloaded ... so don't email unless you want to continue proofing indefinitely (and still won't iron out all the glitches) - stuff it on a USB stick instead and post it. Work only from the USB stick and in the same format - don't download it to computer and then save back to USB ... Or alternatively, if you MUST work by email, then ask whoever receives it to highlight all changes so you can manually incorporate them into the master doc ...

Bill Kirton said...

Interesting, Karen. Thanks for the tip. It does, though, call up the image of texts lying quietly in the safety of a USB stick and the darkness of a sorting office waiting to be collected and, just to pass the time, generating typos.

madwippitt said...

Eeek ... sounds like a short story in the making there ...

Umberto Tosi said...

So true. I stop seeing errors, particularly skipped words (which my mind fills in) the more times I read over texts. Setting them aside refreshes the mental acuity. Of course, it helps when you do fine work in the first place and have some help proofing. :)