self publishingSelf-publishing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, doesn’t mean having to do all the hard work yourself.

A Guest blog by Laura Dowers of Blue Laurel Services For Authors

I’m Laura Dowers and I am a self-published author and trained proofreader. Angie and I have decided to team up to offer both our clients the opportunity to produce quality books, both fiction and non-fiction, in eBook and paperback (POD) formats. I provide a range of authorial services at Blue Laurel Services for Authors, which Angie is enhancing with her bespoke book cover design service. With the two of us working together, self-publishing writers can find the complete self-publishing package.

Angie has very kindly given me the opportunity to tell you a little about my core service, proofreading, and how it helps self-publishing writers produce a professional book.

Self-publishing a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, doesn’t mean having to do all the hard work yourself. In fact, there are certain authorial services you should consider a must rather than a luxury choice. Proofreading is one of these services. Publishing houses would never dream of publishing a book that hasn’t been proofread, but self-publishing writers often feel that proofreading is a service, and an expense, they can do without.

This is a mistake.

What happens when you type up your manuscript?

Errors creep in, spelling mistakes occur and inconsistencies may crop up. You as the writer may check your manuscript several times over, effectively proofreading it yourself, but you will miss many errors, simply because you have seen the text so often that you are too familiar with it. the human brain is a wonderful organ – like a word processor, the brain has an auto-correct function, our eyes skimming over the mistakes in a text we know very well, because we know what it should say, not what it actually does.

self publishing paperback booksSo how will a proofreader help?

A proofreader will be looking at your manuscript for the first time, so they won’t be working with an auto-correcting brain. In other words, a trained proofreader will see the mistakes.

A trained proofreader will look for things that you may not have even thought of, such as double quote marks used in some areas and single quote marks used elsewhere. They will also consider how the text will look in book form and ensure that you have no widows and orphans, pages where there is only one word upon a new page.

If you hire a copy-editor, they will also help to make your manuscript read better, suggesting word replacements that will clarify and improve your text.

What should you look for in a proofreader?

Ideally, one that has been trained and is a member of the Society of Editors and Proofreaders. You can view their directory of members (of which I am one) here. Proofreaders can also be found at FindAProofreader.com – (I’m here as well). Alternatively, you can post a proofreading job on freelance sites such as Elance, Guru or People Per Hour. Be wary of opting for the person who offers the lowest bid on these sites, however. Cheap may not mean trained and if so, you may end up with a manuscript that you may as well have proofread yourself.

A proofreader should have a website where you can view some of the books and texts they have worked upon, as well as testimonials from satisfied clients. Wherever possible, read reviews left by clients on sites such as Google+.

If it isn’t clear from their website, query how they work. Some old-school proofreaders may only want to work on hard copies, while others are happy to work on a printed manuscript, a PDF or a Word document. The last is particularly good as a proofreader can use Word’s Track Changes to do the proofreading – a clear way you can see the changes made.

e-booksDo you really need a proofreader?

Many self-publishers think that the quality of their story will win over readers even if their text is riddled with errors. This is not true. A reader is taking a chance buying a book from a self-published writer and will not be impressed by a poorly presented book, whether in paperback or eBook format. As reviews are the lifeblood of any self-published book, you owe it to yourself, as well as your readers, to produce a book that is as professional as possible and will garner favourable reviews and thereby generate sales.

Thankfully, this is now easy to achieve. With book cover designs created by graphic designers that rival anything a professional publishing house can produce, and authorial services, such as proofreading, manuscript critiques and formatting and even book promotional tools to help create awareness and generate sales, you can now produce a book to be proud of.

So, if you have written a book, whether a novel or a business eBook to earn you passive income, and want to do the whole self-publishing thing properly, take a look at what I can do for you at Blue Laurel Services for Authors or email me at laura@bluelaurelsfa.com.