Today, I am cracking open my brand-spanking-new proof copy of “The King’s Sons,” sent from CreateSpace with its place-holder cover. Woot!
The thing is, though, this isn’t so much a “proofing” as it is one last real edit. Because I’ve always done at least one real edit of each of my novels on pen and paper, and not the screen. Why?
- First of all, it’s really fun to get the book in the mail! Or to print it from Kinko’s. (For me ordering from CreateSpace is actually cheaper!) I mean, come on: you took the time to write the thing. You’ve sweated through a few edits already. Congratulate yourself and give yourself extra momentum to keep going with that thrill of seeing it in print for the first time before you’re done editing. You deserve it!
- People say you read different from the page than from the screen. That you’re engaging a different aspect of your brain that will focus on and notice different things. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can say from experience that things that have never bugged me in previous drafts, I’ve noticed as problems when the book was printed. Also, it’s easier to notice typos in print, at least for me.
- I feel accomplished pulling out the red pen. It feels substantially more like I’m doing something and making progress than altering a document on the computer does. And sometimes, just feeling like you’re accomplishing something makes all the difference.
- It’s different!!! Well, the book’s not different, but it feels different seeing it on paper. Believe me, that’s no small matter after you’ve edited the same novel six or seven times in brief succession. You are so sick of it you want to scream. When you need to keep working on the sucker, a change in format can give you just the boost of willpower and energy you need to go through it one. more. stinking. time.
Generally, I order at least two proof copies. The first is to read and mark up for edits. The second, once the edits are made, is to use for a proofing. (I’ll send that one to my proofer too, generally.)
So that, at least, is why I make sure to really to a full edit with pen and paper at least at some point in the writing process before release. I recommend it to everyone, even if you’re not planning to upload to a paperback-on-demand program. It’s really helpful. If you plan to stick completely to e-books, it’s still helpful for the quality of your draft!