Congratulation! You’re nearly there. Your book has gone through multiple edits, numerous changes, and many an eye has been cast over the text. It’s been sent to the printers (be it through a self-publishing firm or a traditional publisher) and you’ve now been sent a document to review.
What’s a print-proof?
A print-proof shows you what your book is going to look like on the page – it will show you the exact size of the page in fact. This is your last chance to edit, alter and make any corrections before your book goes to print/upload.
I am about to release my first print-version novel (well I’m releasing it in July) and I am in the process of the final edits. Yes, you read that correctly. I am still editing. Editing is my second least favourite part of the writing process (marketing takes the number one position and always will). I am about to submit my second lot of edits on the print-proofs for “Pete and the Persian Bottle”, and I really hope that I can put this one to bed so that I make my deadline.
So what does editing a print-proof involve?
A print-proof shows you what you book is going to look like on the page – the print out will show you the exact size of the page in fact. This is your last chance to edit, alter and make any corrections before your book goes to print/upload.
By the time you get to the print-proof you would have (should have) done a complete structural edit (making sure that the plot flows and that there aren’t any saggy bits in the story), and a format edit (checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors). Your next step is to look at how it appears on the page:
Some tips for editing a print proof:
Even if you are going through an established publisher check your work very carefully. How many of us have seen mistakes and typos in books published through the Big Five (and that’s not even getting on to the smaller operations and let’s not even talk about the shabby products put out through vanity press companies).
Get at least one other person to read through the final version of your piece. Ask them to check for typos, spelling errors and mark up any funny-looking formatting, gaps between words or anything else which distracts them during their reading.
Look at the print on the page. Check for odd gaps between sentences/paragraphs/words and places where a single line hangs over on to a new page at the end of the chapter. This is about checking the visual appeal of the page. You may need to seek advice from the printer/publisher as it is possible to correct most anomalies. If you are self-publishing you may need to adjust font sizes manually to correct any unusual visual effects.
Check that your table of contents is correct – I mean things like spelling, titles match the actual number & title in the text, that the page number is correct, and if you are releasing an e-book check that the hyperlinks work.
Is the font right? Does it read easily? Does it look nice on the page? Is the font the size you want? Will it appeal to your intended audience? Personally I wouldn’t go smaller than 12 font for books for adults, 14 font for children’s novels and 16 font for large print books. Don’t reduce the the font size to squeeze it all in and save a buck. It just makes your book hard to read and irritates readers.
Check that punctuation is consistent. If you are using “dialogue” then use ‘for in-text quotations’. Don’t care which just make it consistent.
Check that any images, diagrams and charts have set into the page properly. Check that they are centred/aligned, not squished or stretched out in a manner that distorts the image, and that they fit neatly on one page.
Make a special effort to check the dedication, acknowledgement, ‘about the author’ and the index/appendices (if you have them), as they often get neglected in the process.
If you are anything like me, you are still going to find typos, grammar in need of correction and punctuation in need of changing. Correct it now.
Once you have checked the document through, check it again. Then I recommend that you start at the back of the book and go through it backwards (great way to pick up punctuation errors). Then check it again. Really. Again.
Don’t be afraid to re-submit and request another print proof. This is what they are for!
Okay, enough whinging from me. I better get back to the checking or I will never finish editing this darn thing.