Since I have regularly displayed my lack of proofreading skills in past blog posts I thought it might be appropriate to look at some ways we can effectively proof our work.
At every conference I’ve ever attended there is at least one person’s proposal, pitch page, or sample chapter that has a typo which jumps off the page. It is never a “fatal” error, but noticeable nonetheless.
At least try not to have the typo in the title of the book (yes that has happened).
Read Your Work Out Loud
Better yet? Have someone else read it to you. This can also help with clarity. Amazing how others emphasize the wrong word in your sentence.
Read it Backwards
The main reason your brain misses errors is that it anticipates what it will see. By going the other direction you must intentionally see each word.
Homonyms in particular will stand out (like pray vs. prey, or accept vs. except, or taught vs. taut).
(Does this mean that if you write in Hebrew you should read it forward? As for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean it would mean from bottom to top, left to right.)
Hard Copy Reading
For some the screen is an impediment to careful reading. I know some editors still use hard copy for their edits and then transfer it all to the screen for Track-Changes. Find out what works best for you.
Hopefully you are not like the rest of us and you have planned ahead. You are not rushing to proof your work at 2 a.m. because it is due the next morning.
Proofreading is not something to do at the last minute. Take your time.
Hire a Pro
There are a number of freelance editors who will do the job for you. Prices vary. Use your writer group networks to find the best. However, even though you hired someone, the responsibility lies with you.
Any other suggestions?
What was the worst error you ever let slip through and onto the page?