There’s been some traffic in the KDP Support Forum about the difficulty of proofing a written work. It seems no matter how many times you read it, you’ll always find another mistake. Or many.

My book, The Girlfriend Experience, went live in the Kindle Book Store in December of 2012. Between then and the following September, I’d read through the entire book at least fifteen times and updated it more than ten times. I’d gone through multiple edits and rewrites, adding five chapters while cutting out 10,000 words. I was sure the book was ready for print.

CreateSpace is a great platform for the Indie author who wants to offer a print version of his book. Their tools are first rate, their support is good, and the quality of the product is excellent. Once I completed the formatting, which took me a while to master, I ordered a printed proof. Two, actually: one for me, one for my wife.

CreateSpace has online proofreading tools, and I used them to check the formatting, but they recommend a printed proof for final approval, especially for first-timers. That’s good advice. Errors which seem to fade into the background on the computer screen also seem to stand out on the printed page. Here’s what my proof looked like after I finished marking all the mistakes I could find:

Hundreds, including missing words, mis-used words, formatting, punctuation, misspellings (yes, even with spell-check). I fixed them all, submitted the update, and ordered another proof. I verified all the corrections and skimmed the book again. I was ready to approve the proof when a reader sent me a note that I’d left out a word in chapter 6. By golly, she was right! I had no choice but to go through it again. I found the first error on page 10. Here’s what it looked like when I was done:

Not as bad, but still more than twenty mistakes. I corrected these, submitted and approved the final version without ordering a printed proof, secure in the knowledge that there are still mistakes in that thing I haven’t yet found.

But somebody did. One of my reviewers mentioned “a few mistakes” in an otherwise positive review.

Here are my takeaways:

  1. Our readers expect a quality product. Finding and correcting as many mistakes as we can is the least we can do for them.
  2. Proofreading is like emptying a bag of sugar. You can shake it all you want but a few grains will stubbornly stick to the sides.
  3. Given (1) and (2), at some point we have to decide that we’ve done all we can and put it out there.
  4. Coffee is better for proofreading than scotch

Copyright © [2016] by Charles O’Donnell, All Rights Reserved

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