Tips on Self-Publishing (Part 2) - Editing and Proofreading

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Here's part two of my self-publishing tips series.  This time I'm covering editing and proofreading...

On editing:
Once you have completed the story, then the real work starts.  Editing is work.  Real work.  After you spend all this time writing your project, you now have to re-approach it with fresh eyes and basically tear it up to put it back together again.  The editing process is where excellence happens.   After I finished writing the initial story, I spent over a week not even looking at my manuscript.  I focused on other things, like cover design, marketing plans, etc. to maintain the energy of my project, but to give me enough time to do a reset on my brain.  Then, when I did re-visit my book, I was able to not feel so personal about taking it apart , deleting, rearranging, etc.  When you're too close, you don't have the objectivity you need to make the necessary changes so that your work becomes the best that it can be.  Another thing that I recommend for editing is to read your first draft all the way through twice before making a single note or change.  You'll be tempted to want to make edits along the way, but don't.  Don't worry about forgetting something.  Trust me, it will jump out at you later as well.  What you want to do is get a good overall sense of your work as a complete organic whole.  That will allow you to do the 35,000 feet analysis and maneuvering needed to get things in their proper place.  On each round of editing, I recommend reading the entire new draft through twice before you start to make your next round of changes.

On proofreading:
While they might disappear before your eyes, because you have gotten used to seeing them in your manuscript, typos takes your reader out of his or her experience with your work.  It creates seams and rips in something that should be seamless.  So, proofreading is a very important step.  You absolutely 100% have to have at least two other people read your "final" work all the way through with a critical eye.  If you can afford a professional proofreader, go for it.  Here's the place to splurge.  I had three people read my manuscript before I considered it final.  Then, I went back over it with a fine-toothed comb - a super fine toothed comb.  Crazy thing, I was still finding typos!  Even now, I hope that I got them all out.  Although I removed 1000 typos over 10 rounds of proofing, someone reading my book wasn't there for that process, so just one typo means a lot more.  One small typo can color the way that someone views your otherwise perfect process.  That's why I spent so much time and effort in trying to get it perfect.  Clearly nothing is perfect and typos can be easily corrected, especially if you're self-publishing, but you don't want to turn people off unnecessarily.

A few proofreading strategies:

Since your eyes eventually become immune to seeing errors in your writing, you have to find ways to shock your system into paying closer attention.  Two things I used:

1.    Dot or check each word as you read it.  Every single one of the 50,000-100,000 words of your manuscript.
2.    Read your entire manuscript out loud.  If you have friends with extreme patience, read it out loud to someone else.  Slowly and deliberately.

3.    Break up your proofreading so that you are only doing part in a day.  I suggest spreading the process over at least 5-10 days to make it through your entire manuscript.

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