Proofreading for Dummies

epcot (3)I’m on the verge of finalizing a manuscript, and while I’d previously written on the benefits of a professional edit, I chose to stick with my original plan, and keep my financial investment to a minimum (at least for my first entry into the world of self-publishing). A part of me fears a copy edit would result in my manuscript returning with more red on the page than white; my non-traditional style crucified beyond redemption. ‘What do you mean that’s a comma splice? If that’s a comma splice, everything I’ve ever written is a comma splice.’

A proofread however, a line-by-line edit to catch those misplaced words, homonyms and spelling inconsistencies, I felt confident I could handle. I have experience editing documents in my alternate realm (the real world), so the decision was simple.

Off I went, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, focused and determined.

After two thorough proofreads, my 70,000-word manifesto was ready to move on. CreateSpace and Kindle here I come; the magic about to happen.

Until something within, some indescribable gut feeling, convinced me to hold off for one final edit—just in case. As meticulous as I can be, as thorough as I am, it is possible—I missed something.

So I held off.

A week later, I embarked upon another time-consuming, painfully laborious proofread.

The end-result,

Sixteen errors.

How can that be?

Oh, it be baby—it be.

My confidence shaken, I embraced humility, made the corrections, and set the manuscript aside—again.

A week later during the follow-up proofread, I found an additional—six errors.

I began to doubt reality.

How could I have missed six errors on four previous proofreads?

But I had.

I regrouped, revised, and felt confident I’d nailed it. Come the next proofread, I’d be at zero errors; done.

But zero never materialized, eclipsed by—fifteen.

I suspected sabotage at this point.

It was unfathomable. Did someone switch files on me? Is this perhaps a sinister plot to drive the writer insane?

None of the above.

Thirty-seven errors—and counting.

Which led me to realize.

Proofreading one’s own work is indeed a mug’s game.

And I’m that mug.

Will I consider out-sourcing in the future?

Is it Epoct or Epcot?

Until next time,

109 thoughts on “Proofreading for Dummies

  1. Don’t sweat it too much, even editor miss things. My book was re-read and re-edited by two of us at least six times. Then it went to the beta’s who picked out more errors we both missed. Then a final proofread by myself and editor picked up a couple more. Finally when I uploaded amazon auto proofer asked if I wanted to find the 11 errors, now granted ten of those where accented text, so as should be, but low and behold one was a blatant spelling error. Which not only eight readers should have noticed, but why didn’t my auto spell check or my Grammarly add-on? So don’t sweat it too heavily, Amazon will check it too 🙂

    PS I can’t wait for your release! No pressure, LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Theresa. I’m 2/3 of the way through the final read this weekend. I’ve picked off a couple of errors, but on the positive side, I’ve been able to make some wording adjustments, hopefully for the better. This will be it though. Any more, and my eyes will start bleeding. Thanks for the support, as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i’m a great believer in regular critique groups to give and receive feedback, either face to face or online, always keeping in mind though, that you are the writer and you know best, but good to see how other people respond to your work. i liken the process to ‘off Broadway’ and ‘on Broadway’. the famous comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allan try their jokes out at ‘off Broadway’ venues before performing ‘on Broadway’.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True. I just watched Jerry’s recent return to his original comedy club, on Netflix. Hard to believe how many years have passed. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Cheers Libby!


  2. Proofreading can be maddening that’s for sure! Inevitably I can find something every time I read something I write no matter how many times or by who it’s been edited. I’m sure your work is going to be great! Hope to get a chance to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s true that we’ll always find issues with our own work, at least after we’ve stepped away for a bit. I often edit a book as I’m writing it. Sometimes those glaring errors can keep me from focusing on the story at hand. Even after I’ve edited on my own for three rounds, then a manuscript is seen by beta readers and critique partners (I fix those mistakes), and my publisher’s editors go through it, I’ll still notice a few problems on the final pass before the book gets published. Heck, I’ve even seen major typos in bestselling books from the bookstore, and sometimes in the newspaper. The point is that no one is perfect. If we were, how would life be interesting? And how might we improve upon ourselves?

    At some point, though, you have to step back. Unless there’s an obvious problem, of course. It’s hard for writers that are perfectionists, in a sense, or at least control freaks about their work. But, eventually, you need to release your book into the ether and see where it flies, accepting the fact those minor imperfections are just a part of the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marie. After 6 rounds I finally felt confident enough to order a Proof copy. It came this week and the formatting, book jacket and layout were perfect, but I found a few additional errors, most minor, but a couple I’m glad I caught. So glad I ordered the proof, I’m comfortable with moving forward now, realizing, as you mentioned, that perfection is worth striving for, but unrealistic.
      Thanks again, I appreciate the comment and the follow! Look forward to keeping in touch!


    1. I know. Our brains are wired to scan and pick off 4 or 5 key words in any sentence, then fill in the blanks, and move on. I missed the same mistakes over and over. Cheers, thank you for commenting!


  4. Thanks for sharing your experience with proof-reading one’s own work.
    It is a very time consuming and nerve-wrecking process. I recently went through the same thing with an online submission lol. I must’ve re-read mu write-up about 7 or 8 times and still missed a few errors. My Husband picked up on them.

    Liked by 1 person

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