Sunday, April 10, 2011

Page Proofs

For the aspiring writers, let me give you a short lesson in proofing. This week my publisher sent me the "page proofs" of my book, due out in July. They are the pages, just as they will appear in the book, and this is my last opportunity to make any changes.

Now, by changes, they do not mean rewrite any significant amount. So, armed with my American Heritage Dictionary (to check word separations) and the Chicago Manual of Style (for the proof reader's marks I don't use all the time), I started the fun.

Proofing a page is tedious work. You must read each word, not just the sentence. As the author, you have probably read the work hundreds of times. Guess what? You tend to skim over words, because you know what you meant to say, but is that what really appears on the page?

And, relying on spell check is not a smart idea. If you meant to type the word "your" and instead you type the word "you," spell check does no good, which is why page proofs are so important.

But, that is just the start. Words may have to be broken up, so those need to be check against the dictionary to make sure they have been hypenated properly. When marking up the page proofs, you need to use the proper marks which can be found in the Chicago Manual of Style. Since I've been proof reading for many years, I know most of them, but now and then, something pops up that has to be verified.

All in all, the proofs look pretty good. Some changes need to be made and questions answered that occurred in the editing process. So, aspiring writers, just because you created the work, you are far from finished. And, as the author, you want to have the final say on your masterpiece.

So, back to the proofs I go. Deadlines loom and it is always best to submit your changes under the deadline.

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