The Power of Proof-Reading

The Power of Proof-Reading

By Natalie Bright

A relative gave me a lovely picture book that his friend had self-published. The story is sweet and the illustrations absolutely blew me away which is not surprising since the author is an award winning artist. As I begin to read through the book again, with the intention of posting several online reviews, a typo on page one smacked me in the face. My heart sank.

Do You Tell Authors about Their Mistakes?

Do I contact the relative who gave me the gift? Or perhaps send a nice email to the author about the typo? It would be an easy fix, IF, and it’s a big if, a second print run is being planned. How can I recommend this book to the bookstore owners and gift shop managers in my area without damaging the professional relationship I have with them? What if one of their customers sees the typo and complains? Picture books don’t come cheap these days.


Proofreading is an important step that seems to have been pushed aside in an effort to ‘become a published author in 72 hours’. Misprints and typos are not that uncommon in the eBooks I’ve purchased whether it’s by self-published or big name authors, although I understand that funky things happen in the digital process. That’s not to say how annoying it is after paying good money for what you assume will be a quality product. For print books from publishing houses, especially those priced on the high end with beautiful illustrations, typos are even worse but nonexistent. Professional copy-editors do good work.

Read Your Work Out Loud

There are things you can do to minimize typos. If I’m stuck on a chapter and it’s not flowing well, I’ll read it out loud. I also read the entire story out loud from beginning to end during the final revision process, after I’ve made edits based on critique group suggestions. Put your work aside and in a few days, or even longer, READ YOUR WORK OUT LOUD. You will be shocked at the typos and awkward sentences. They’re an easy fix at this stage in the game. Also, you’ll get a sense of how the story flows from chapter to chapter. Listening to dialogue as you read it out loud will help conversations ring true. And it’s not all bad. You might be surprised at how good some parts are. Prior to your work being officially ‘published’, the editor or publisher will send you a proof to look over. Read it aloud again. For me personally, every single time there have been typos whether it was a big-big-name anthology, freelance magazine article, self-pub novel or eBook. Regardless of the gazillion times I’d already gone over it, there are misspelled words, awkward sentences, missing pieces of chapters before final publication. Every. Single. Time.

Why Settle for Okay?

Many people have dreams and hopes of being a professional author. There are many opportunities today enabling you to realize that dream. And yet, is it so critical that the story be published by  the end of this week?   I’ve been a reader all of my life, and I get giddy buying books with only the click of a mouse. I really do want to discover a great story. I want to post five-star reviews on my GoodReads page so maybe someone I know can discover that good story too.   Help your readers be true to you as the professional author you are. Make it easy for them to become a fan.

Give your story the time and attention it deserves before you share it with the world.

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