There is this joy that comes with typing the words “The End” in every book. Whether it’s your first book or your twentieth, savour the moment because you have accomplished a great feat. But don’t rejoice for too long because the real work begins now. This work is the process of proofreading your now-completed manuscript.
Yes! It is tedious! Yes, you might get so frustrated to the point of entertaining thoughts of flinging your manuscript out of your window, but this is a very important part of the publishing process. So, before you take any drastic steps, here are some tips that can make this process less frustrating:
Accept that you might proofread more than once
Yes! I know. That feeling of flinging it out of the window again! But stay calm and think of the benefits of a near-perfect work. It is always better to decide what exactly you are proofreading for before you begin. Sentence structure, agreement and verb tense errors in one reading; punctuation and other mechanics in another; spelling, vocabulary and consistency in yet another. Proofreading for all at the same time might be faster but it is less effective as it is impossible to catch all these errors in one reading.
Make a Plan and a Calendar
It is easy to procrastinate! Especially when it comes to things we do not enjoy doing and I have never seen any author that gets excited about proofreading. This even gets worse if we are self-publishing and we do not have a publisher or an editor on our case. To solve this problem and ensure you are disciplined enough to carry out this task, it is always better to have a plan or a calendar that will guide you.
Attention to Detail:
Reading your work can be distracting. You might get caught up in that amazing plot you crafted or that character you were able to develop so well. But note that this is a distraction and might cause you to miss a thing or two. Make sure you are focused enough to take each sentence out of its context and analyze it properly.
Read Out Loud
Errors in sentence structure, agreement, tense and dangling modifiers are so much easier to detect when you do this. The point is to not only get your eyes involved but your ears as well. This way, you get to catch things that don’t sound right and you can fix them.
No human is perfect. No matter how many times you proofread, there are possibilities of missing one or two errors. This is where technology comes in. Tools like Grammarly, Hemingway and Free Plagiarism Checkers. These tools are not 100 per cent perfect anyway so are not a substitute for your own proofreading.
While reading our own work, sometimes we are tempted to put ourselves in the mind of the reader. This means we will read at the reader’s pace which is not very nice for our work. Yes! We want to get this boring, annoying part of publishing done and over with, but it is pertinent we read at a slower pace in order for us to catch every error.
Proofreading is not fun! I guess you must have known that from reading this article. That is why it is essential to take breaks. Do something totally unrelated. Watch TV, browse through social media, take a walk, play with your kids or your pets, then come back refreshed. Do not be tempted to force yourself through it when you are clearly tired and need a break. It’s a recipe for disaster.