I can stop holding my breath now. I got my manuscript back from the editors with all the red marks and suggestions. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It came with a cover letter from the editor first telling me everything I did right and then everything that could be improved. It was good to get this type of feedback, especially for me, a first-time author, because improving is always the name of the game.
My manuscript came to me with Microsoft Word’s Track Changes >Final Showing Markup feature activated so I could see the editor’s changes. The editor gave me proofreading instructions, i.e. how to make my corrections, comments and additions to the manuscript so that I returned a manuscript showing both the editor’s initial changes in red and my input in blue. I was surprised to learn I didn’t have to accept the edits from the editor. I could reject any changes (insert NO CHANGE) or question any edits [insert COMMENT]. This was such a relief for me since as a writer, I know what message I wanted to convey and didn’t want that message changed. Although a publisher’s editor is a professional, that person could misinterpret my message because either she/he misread my writing or my writing is not conveying the message I intended. Either way, as the writer I get to fix it. I liked that!
I had ten days to return my manuscript so I sat down to read my book for what seemed like the millionth time. Since I knew what the book said, I took the following extra precautions in my proofreading:
1) I printed the entire manuscript. Although making my changes directly onto the electronic copy may have been quicker, I wanted to make sure the book flowed correctly and everything that was supposed to be included was there. It was easier to flip back and forth between hard copies than trying to scroll up and down on a screen to do this. Also, the pages weren’t numbered (for layout purposes) so I immediately numbered them. Can you imagine trying to reorganize a 100+ page unnumbered document after dropping it??
2) While proofreading the manuscript, I used a pencil to touch each word as I read it. Why? As the writer and person who had read this book many times before, I didn’t want to skim and assume words were present that were in fact missing. I’m glad I used the pencil because I found missing and misspelled words. I made all my corrections, additions, etc. on the hard copy.
3) I also had a printed copy of the manuscript I last sent to the publisher nearby for reference. I’m glad I did because I discovered some footnotes missing and some incorrectly attributed.
4) After I finished proofreading, I transferred my corrections, additions and comments onto the electronic copy of my manuscript.
Proofreading your book is extremely important and shouldn’t be rushed. Your book represents you to people so you want it to be excellent. Mistakes or errors that could’ve been corrected with proofreading will lessen your credibility and haunt you forever (even if there is a second printing, somebody will find a copy of the first printing with the errors!). You’ve put a lot of time and sweat equity into writing your book. You don’t want your message lost because the reader is focusing on errors.
(P.S. I wrote this post at 3 a.m. so if you find any errors here, ignore them and focus on the message! LOL)