Writing a book can be a great deal of fun, especially when you are covering a topic or creating a story that means a great deal to you. Even when you don’t plan to publish your book for profit, every book needs to go through a careful editing and proofreading process to ensure readability.
Mistake-free grammar and spelling are essential for building your credibility as a writer, and editing for content will ensure you are conveying your message as clearly and effectively as possible. Contrary to some misconceptions, proofreading and editing are not exactly the same processes.
Proofreading and Editing: An Important Distinction
Proofreading a book involves going over the grammar, syntax and spelling to find and correct any errors such as a careless typo or a misplaced word. Though a word processor’s spelling -and grammar- checking tools can help, you can’t rely on them alone because these tools often miss errors they aren’t programmed to recognize. When going through your proofreading process line by line, it’s also a good idea to have your dictionary and favorite writing style guide handy just in case any questions arise in your mind.
Editing is a more holistic process than proofreading; it covers areas such as word choice, paragraph placement and sentence structure to make sure you’re using language effectively to connect with your readers. Many writers end up moving entire paragraphs around or rearranging sentences so that the whole passage or chapter has more impact. Having a good thesaurus is another recommended step because it can help you with adding word variety.
Why Every Book Needs Both
Any genre of book needs to be proofread carefully because you want to give your readers the best end result you’re capable of creating. Misspelled words or grammatical mistakes will take away from the overall reading experience, and these can even undermine the message you’re trying to get across in your writing.
Editing is imperative because it will strengthen your word choices and get your message to your readers as clearly as possible. Both editing and proofreading work to create the impression of you as a knowledgeable writer whose book is definitely worth purchasing and reading.
You Can’t Rely Solely on Yourself
One of the most common mistakes among new authors is to skip hiring a proofreader or editor. It can be tempting to save on the expense, but it can usually cost you more in the long run in terms of your book’s success. It’s quite common to miss glaring mistakes in your own writing or to believe you corrected an error that you actually overlooked. The one rare exception is the writer who also has professional editing experience.
Another pair of eyes can catch many things in your writing that you may not have even considered as areas needing improvement. Freelance editors and proofreaders are widely available for hire at reasonable rates. Even if you’re writing a book solely for your friends’ and family’s enjoyment, asking at least one of them to look over your writing is well worth the bit of extra time.