Proofreading: More demoralizing than the thought of an impending Donald Trump presidency

Proofreading: More demoralizing than the thought of an impending Donald Trump presidency


I just sent twenty-one pages of proofreading notes to my editor and copyeditor.

This round of revisions was, in a word, ROUGH.

I thought going in that it would be easy, breezy, beautiful, Cover Girl. I thought, hey, all the big stuff is out of the way. What's left is just the nitty-gritty, "add a comma here, lose a comma there" bologna. No. Big. Deal.

But it was a big deal. I learned more about myself and my writing during this round than during any other point in the editorial process. I learned valuable lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my writing life.

What did I learn? Glad you asked.

1. I will never get all bent out of shape when I find a typo in someone else's book. It is FRAKKING hard to find every single skipped word, misspelling, etc. I have read this book, oh, fifty million times by now. I know it cold. I know it better than Donald Trump knows the bra size of his own daughter. So when I read the thing, my brain automatically inserts words, words that are not there, words that may never have been there.

And even when you have several other sets of eyes on the book (at least five people were involved in this process, and that's not including me), stuff is missed. There were some overlaps in our notes, typo-wise, but for the most part I found mistakes that they didn't and they found stuff that I missed, which is vaguely terrifying. What about the inevitable stuff that we ALL missed??? *reaches for chocolate* *slaps hand because we gave up chocolate for Lent*

2. I suck at commas. I've been blogging for a long time, and I mostly use commas for decoration and emphasis at this point. I don't go back and fiddle with punctuation much anymore. MAYBE I SHOULD. Because one proofreader removed a whole bunch of commas, and another proofreader had me add a whole bunch more in. I'm failing on all sides of the comma spectrum.

3. CHECK EVERYTHING, especially names and titles and other facts that you may have guessed on when you were drafting. I write quickly, and I don't take a ton of time to research while I'm writing. During the early revision rounds, I was much more concerned with getting character/plot stuff right, so I didn't really care much about the "decorative" stuff, i.e. the stuff that will COMPLETELY pull a reader out of a book. THANKFULLY, one of my proofreaders bothered to google a few song titles that I had completely spaced on. I assumed I had googled the correct spellings/capitalization early on, but apparently I DID NOT. All I could think about while reading these notes (and then frantically checking through the MS to see if she or I had missed anything else -- WE HAD, and we probably missed more, see lesson #1) was about how pissed I got while reading a book that got baseball wrong, and how my readers were going to be pissed I got music wrong, which will still probably happen and I should probably get over it now.

4. It was thrilling to see my book in book form. Yes, it was only a .pdf, but the formatting and font are all there, and, boy, it looks pretty! Look at the cute font! Pay no attention to that misspelled name over there.

5. I am soooooooo grateful to every set of eyes who looked at this book before it actually became a book. Yes, it was embarrassing to see my mistakes laid bare in a few Word documents, but the twenty-one pages of changes we discovered mean there will be twenty-one fewer pages of mistakes for Joe Reader to find.

6. Here's a thing for you to learn: You can preorder my book (a YA novel that's kind of Pitch Perfect at an opera summer camp) RIGHT HERE.

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