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Proof-reading A Novel For The Kindle
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The Kindle is hot right now. The self-selecting, self-serving elite that is the publishing industry is on the back foot as Amazon's far more egalitarian, open-to-all, electronic publishing medium has thrown the doors wide open to us all.
Now anybody can get their work published and the question that many are asking, as thousands rush to upload their manuscripts, is this. Is this a good thing, or not?
You can broadly divide the new publishers into two categories: those who are wannabe writers of novels, or non-fiction and those who are internet marketers; wanting to publish anything and everything that they think might sell, regardless of quality.
I wrote my first novel some while ago. Prior to that, I had never worked as a journalist and I have never been the kind of prolific writer who endlessly writes just for the love of it. This meant that I had to develop my writing style as I went along. As I did so, I found that the structuring of my paragraphs and sentences improved the more I wrote and so did my understanding of grammar. I imagine that many first-time authors will recognise this personal literary trajectory.
However, learning as you write is a double-edged sword, as it means that although you are improving as you go, your manuscript is likely to be riddled with errors, which you will find very difficult to unearth on your own as you read back over your work. This will not change, no matter how many times you re-read it.
Furthermore, even if you always did understand the difference between 'your and you're' and 'there and their' and when to capitalise 'professor' and how to construct an ellipsis (... ) it still doesn't mean that you will never make those mistakes. It is almost certain that you will make them, and the more you read over those mistakes without spotting them, the less likely it is that you will see them when you deliver your final draft.
When I self-published I found the reviews that I received were as I had hoped they would be, but from early on the feedback that I got suggested there were grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in my book that were bugging readers.
Fortunately for me, one particularly kind individual with editorial experience read my book and contacted me via my web site and offered to proof-read the manuscript. The corrected version took me almost twelve hours to transfer to my working copy, such was the volume of the, mainly minor, errors in my book.
I discovered that reading the newly proof-read manuscript was an education in itself, but more importantly it brought the book to a state where it was no longer offensive to the more erudite, and discerning readers, of which there are many, believe me.
Returning to the question of whether self-publishing by the masses is a good thing or not, my reply would be a qualified, 'yes'. Giving everybody a chance to publish must be a good thing, but if the new publishers are not very careful about quality issues, new ways will be found to judge and regulate what gets published and we may even end-up back at square-one - after a fashion. Whereby, a narrow elite point others towards what to read and what not to. And it seems likely to me that those who fail to eradicate the problems that my work was afflicted with will appear towards the top of the DO NOT READ list.
The moral of this story must therefore be: Do not even think about publishing a major work without proper proof-reading. You may imagine, as I did, that you have polished and honed your work into a gleaming jewel, but like me you might be failing to take into account the hawk-eyed and, dare I say, pedantic readers who will ultimately sit in judgment.
Not surprisingly the internet has the answers at hand, in the form of web sites which offer proof-reading services. If you are not fortunate enough to have your own proof-reader on tap, then just type 'proof reading' into Google and pick from one of the many firms that offer to cleanse and purify your masterpiece for a fair price.
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