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Author Zone - Readers Welcome! > Prrof Reading Nightmare - advice sought

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message 1: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments I’ve had a good week or two as a writer, or at least that’s the case on the surface.
My new romantic comedy is out there alive and kicking. I had a promotion that was relatively successful and people seem to like the book. I should be walking on clouds.
Should be.
Instead, I’m walking under them. And it’s raining. And I’m soaked through to the bone and I’m cold and miserable and so agitated that I can’t rest.
How can this be?
It’s because of 3 things, really.
1. I’m a very poor and rather dyslexic proof-reader.
2. I know (1) and yet I repeat the mistake over and over, which is really foolish.
3. I seem to feel uneasy about asking for help, even when it’s been offered.
The first I was aware of it this time around was in the review that was posted by Elaine G on Wednesday morning. It was a lovely review, too, until it got to the mention of the errors that spoiled the read.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I’d checked the book as thoroughly as I’ve ever checked anything before – doubly so, in fact. More on that in a moment.
There was only one thing for it. To get in there and read the piece again. The saving grace, possibly the only one, is that it’s no War And Peace.
I couldn’t believe what I found. It was like a blanked had been lifted from the text and I could finally see what was really there.
40+ errors, I kid you not, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Of course, I uploaded the new file as soon as it was corrected – another couple of days of hard work spent in an area that should have been done-and-dusted. The thing is, I know it’s too late in some ways. The relative success of the promo is also now the book’s Achilles heel – 6000+ copies of a sub-standard book have gone out. In the process, I’ve let my readers down, myself down, the book down and the indie-publishing community down. It’s really awful.
That’s something I’m going to have to deal with – the what-ifs and so on. And, given time, I probably will. For now it’s a little too raw and upsetting.
This isn’t about aiming for sympathy, or at least I don’t think it is. And I have to write it and put it out otherwise I won’t be able to rest. I need to apologise and so, I’m sorry. Once this is posted, I may rest easier.
The main thing here is a request for ideas and tips so that I don’t do it the next time.
I’ll take a step back for a moment and consider the help I’ve had post-publication in the past. Ignite and Nicola Rain Jordan have quietly supported me and sent me lists of mistakes out of pure kindness and I really am indebted to them. What that should have done, did even, was alert me to my weaknesses.
I do have a form of dyslexia. It’s visual by nature – scanning and visual memory in particular – and it means I read more like a cart horse in a field rather than a thoroughbred at Ascot. It does often allow me to proof the work of others fairly well in the sense that I need to re-read sentences over again if they don’t make sense. My issues don’t relate to phonological awareness – rhyme, blending, phonics etc as a reader (I’ll not touch on spelling for now) and this means that I’m able to support pupils with literacy difficulties without issue. In fact, in my role as support for learning teacher, I feel it gives me a slight advantage as I’m driven by the passion of the afflicted.
What I’d say to a dyslexic pupil is that they must try that little bit harder. They must seek help when they need it. They must employ a few extra strategies to supporting themselves in their work.
I would have listened to some of that advice.
This time around, I read the book 4 times.
It’s possible that one of the times was wasted due to some kind of issue of me reverting to an old document.
Even so, I did the fine-tooth comb thing.
Clearly, some of the teeth were missing.
I read it straight.
I read it with a coloured background.
I read chapters one at a time and out of sequence.
I read with the font so big on one occasion that there were only a couple of sentences on the screen at any one time.
And I still messed it up.
And I didn’t ask for help.
I could have sent it to one of my publishers and had some of their expertise on side. Untreed Reads would have taken it, I think, but I’d have been impatient with their pace (a sensible one) and actually quite like the control I have as an indie. I will use them as a distributor in the future for this one.
I could have sent it to Blasted Heath. As a top-notch crime/noir outfit in the main, they would have been right to laugh in a non-ironic way at the submission. Much as I love them, they weren’t the right place.
So what should I have done?
What can I do next time that’s different?
What are the best proof-reading tips you have?
Looking at this, Elaine did me a big kindness in her review and focussed on the positives. I’m very grateful for that.
And I’ve had a lovely offer from Kew to pass on the mistakes spotted so that I can make any more changes.
I believe the version now available is clean, but I’d like some extra confidence in that which must come from somewhere else.
If you’ve stuck with this to the end, thanks for hanging in. If you’ve got ideas, please pass them on – I don’t think I could go through this process again without some kind of new angle of approach at the proof-reading stage.
With thanks.

message 2: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25063 comments All I can suggest, Nigel, is putting it in front of as many other eyes as possible before you publish. We all spot different things. It's on my list to read but I'm actually proof reading at the moment so it won't be for a week or two. As you know, I'll let you know!
Don't give up though!

message 3: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments Thanks Ignite. It's soul destroying. I don't like to trouble people with long fiction as it's such a big thing to ask, but it feels like I have no other choice. I'll eat my humble pie and make sure I get good people involved next time, before release.
Maybe I need a little rest and to work on some short pieces for a while.

message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21940 comments Seriously, you cannot edit your own book.
It's not just that you're dyslexic, it's because you're the writer and you KNOW what you wrote.

Believe me in this, I tried, I'm not dyslexic, and I screwed up

message 5: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments You ALWAYS read what you think you wrote, and not what you actually wrote. Which is why at minimum you should leave a book several weeks before you start editing it, to give your brain time to purge its cache...

message 6: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments One thing you could do, email Amazon and ask them to allow the upload of the new document. I doubt many of those 6k people will be reading immediately. Amazon will only email the buyers if there are substantial editing changes but they will enable a new version via "manage your Kindle". Whether people will do so is another matter but you can tick the automatic update box now so you get the update when your kindle is connected to the internet. I may be worth putting a note in the project description saying revised or updated version.

I self-edit too, and I know there are issues. I cannot afford a professional editor so I sympathise. Is there anyone you know who can beta-read?

Jay-me (Janet)  | 4325 comments I'm not a writer, but at work we type reports which have to be correct, & include numbered notes and page numbers. I always get one of my colleagues to read over what I have typed because as Tim says you read what you think you wrote and not what is actually there.
If you ask there are always a few people who would read through your books for you.

message 8: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25063 comments Several authors simply ask on here is anyone is up for pre-publication reading. You usually get one or two who have a fee slot and are happy to do it. That way, you're not pestering an individual and you know that anyone who says yes is happy to do it.

message 9: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments This is all really helpful, thanks. I didn't leave any time between finishing and proofing, so I'll try that one Tim. Jay-me and Ignite, I'll put it out here in case next time - it seems a gentle way of asking. And Alexandra, I'll definitely do what you suggest - I hadn't emailed Amazon and will re-read your instructions to get them right.
I really appreciate the advice.

message 10: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments I use the time for planning and plotting the next book. :)

message 11: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments I tend to leave a gap between finishing the draft and reading it through. Go and write something else and come back to it as a reader and not a writer.
If you go onto your Amazon author account and email support and just explain you fixed some editing issues but they were not substantial then request they push out the new version. I think they assess whether it is worth emailing buyers and then either do that or just let people update themselves. It can take a couple of weeks though.

Do you preview it online before you hit publish? Also if you haven't already buy a copy yourself and just check it through. You get the 70% back anyway.

message 12: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments Tim, I'm having a wee rest I think. I have no fresh ideas, so I can't plan for now.
And Alexandra, I do preview, but that's only to see that it looks OK in terms of layout. I do think that I can see it better on the kindle than I can on the computer, so maybe I should also convert a file and check it on the Kindle before going further.
the reader/writer thing may explain why I could see the errors when I looked at Kindle this week. I hadn't checked it since putting it up, a gap of a couple of weeks - time may just be a very important factor. I did email Amazon and hope it comes out OK.

message 13: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Hope you work it out.

message 14: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments I think I am. I see light.

And I've just noticed the title of the thread. Priceless. I wish I'd done it on purpose. :)

message 15: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25063 comments Haha! I thought you had. I thought it was brilliant! A real eye-catcher!

message 16: by Bill (new)

Bill (s0litaire) | 124 comments what word processor do you use?
you can usually find a good grammar plug-in that might give you a helping hand for the stupid mistakes!

I tent to type "hte" instead of "the" all the time! I've set my version of Libre Office to auto correct it while I type (saves my ages! in proof reading and going back fixing my spelling! lol)

message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21940 comments Tim wrote: "I use the time for planning and plotting the next book. :)"

Finish Bk 1
Forget about it.
Start Bk 2,
Either finish Bk 2 or after three or four months put it aside and go back to Bk 1 and edit it

message 18: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments I use Word Bill. I'm not really sure about plug-ins.
I have Open Office, but don't use it much - do you think that would have better options. And if you have any suggested plug-ins and advice on how to get them, that would be cool.

message 19: by Bill (new)

Bill (s0litaire) | 124 comments If you use Libre Office this is a good plugin to use (don't know if their is an open office version)

I've not used MS Office in years! so don't know any good grammar plugins for that.

message 20: by David (new)

David Hadley | 4873 comments I read - for the first time - Lord of the Rings recently.

In the introduction to the book, it mentioned that Tolkien was constantly correcting proofs of the various editions as they came out. So, it seems that even a book like LotR in its various editions was not free from errors, even when published professionally and written by someone as obsessed by language as Tolkien.

So, yes, we should try to get it right, but no matter how often it is checked and re-checked there will still be errors and mistakes in everything that gets published.

At least with ebook editions there are much easier to fix.

message 21: by Karen (last edited Sep 01, 2013 05:57AM) (new)

Karen Lowe | 2335 comments I do sympathise Nigel! I proofread about three times, at intervals, then when I think it's about right, I pay for professional proofreaders/copy editors, and STILL errors & typos get through undetected.
As others have said, just get yr work read prepublication by a few gallant volunteers if you can.

message 22: by Philip (sarah) (new)

Philip (sarah) Willis | 5174 comments I read your book last Thursday Nigel and there was nothing evident (to me) that spoiled a good story well told.
I am not saying there were no mistakes(as I'm no proof reader) but what I remember is an original plot which was both funny and heart warming. Your book entertained me during the wee sma' hours and having read and enjoyed your work in the past I hope to continue to do so in the future :@)

message 23: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Bird (nigelbird) | 195 comments I'm glad Tolkien had issues, too, but am feeling sympathetic to all writers just now. And I'm really pleased you enjoyed it Philip (sarah)as that means pretty much everything to me in the end - glad you popped in to let me know. :)

message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim | 21940 comments Philip (sarah) wrote: "I read your book last Thursday Nigel and there was nothing evident (to me) that spoiled a good story well told.
I am not saying there were no mistakes(as I'm no proof reader) but what I remember is..."

Grab hold of this comment with both hands Nigel.
It's obvious that what you're doing is worth the effort and you're on the right lines.
All else is just detail ;-)

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