Before I’m ready to order a printed proof of my book, I need to read through it several times to catch errors and problems. There are a lot of little details to catch, so each time through it, I read with a particular focus.
My first read-throughs are in the desktop publisher (DTP).
Read-through #1 is for text continuity. The DTP is where I build and format each page the way I want it to appear on a printed page. I’m working with text frames, image frames, caption frames, and page numbering, which means there is a lot of tweaking to get a pleasing balance of images, text, and white space. If it doesn’t fit on the page; cutting and pasting are required. Sometimes I have to reword several sentences to make the paragraph fit on the page. On occasion, something gets omitted or doubled. So the first read-through hopefully catches all that!
Read-through #2 focuses on small text details. Everything must be consistent. For example, sometimes I wrote 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, sometimes I wrote 5 Acres and A Dream The Book. Sometimes I miss italicizing a book title. I check to see if all paragraphs are correctly indented or not. A paragraph continuing on the next page is not indented, so I have to check. Are the temperature symbols all formatted the same?
Read-through #3 examines photo captions. These are written as the images are placed on the page, so I go back to check them for accuracy, spelling, and punctuation.
Read-through #4 checks citations. Is each one notated in the text with a superscript numeral? Are the endnotes and bibliography properly formatted?
Read-through #5 isn’t a technical read-through, but it checks page numbers so it’s a necessary go-through. A mistake means all the following page numbers must be corrected! I also make sure the page numbers in the table of contents are correct; also any pages I reference anywhere else in the text. This is the last read-through in the DTP.
The next read-through is after I export the manuscript as a PDF.
Read-through #6 is to look for key words for the index. It also serves as a double check for all of the above, but my mental focus is on keywords. I make a list of these in a text editor. When I’m done with the list, I go to the tools menu and select “sort” to put the list in alphabetical order.
Read-through #7 isn’t technically a read-through. It’s to go through each of the words on my keyword list, and using “find” on the PDF, make a list of all the page numbers for the index.
After the index is built and I know my exact page count for the book, I can request a cover template. Once the cover is done, it’s time to order my first printed proof copy.
Read-through #8 is with the printed proof. It’s amazing what you miss on a computer screen but catch on a printed page! This is also when I make notes of images that aren’t printing well. Corrections of both text and images are made in the DTP, and another proof is ordered.
Read-through #9 checks everything again!
Hopefully, everything is perfect by that point! But if it isn’t, I continue working the process until it is. Only then will I approve the book for publication.