Self-Publishing Process - Part 6
Today I am sharing the sixth post in my self-publishing series, which will be on the topic of proof copies and proofreading. If you haven’t read my first five posts on writing, editing, cover design, choosing a publishing platform, and formatting, I would recommend checking them out as well.
We have come to arguably one of the best parts of the whole self-publishing process, aside from the writing itself, of course. Now that you’ve edited your book, had a cover designed, chose a publishing platform, and formatted the book, it’s time to order a proof copy!
Our first order of business: what is a proof copy? I’m so glad you asked :) A proof copy is an unofficial copy of your book that you order for yourself ahead of the book’s release. It is the first time you will hold your book in book format, so it’s super special. I don’t know about other publishers, but if you order from KDP the book will have a grey stripe around it labelled “not for resale” to indicate that it is not a final copy of the book. (My proof for Sacred Ruse is pictured above)
Again, my personal experience comes from KDP at this time, but ordering a proof is super easy. As long as you have uploaded all your content to KDP (book details, manuscript file, and cover) you should be able to order a proof. Just go to the options icon beside your book on your Bookshelf (the same place you would go to edit book details, content, and pricing) and click “Order Proof Copy”. Then you simply choose a marketplace, such as Amazon.com, and choose how many copies you want. I typically order 1 at a time. Amazon then needs to process your request before you can pay for it as the book isn’t officially published yet. They will email you when your order is ready and then you just proceed as any other Amazon order.
Second order of business: what do you do with a proof copy? The first stage is pretty simple. All you need to do is take pictures of your new book baby and bask in the glory of its physical existence. Because oh my god, you wrote a book, you’re deep in the path to publishing it, and it’s real. It’s something you can hold. So yes, take the time to appreciate that milestone, and then dig out your editor cap because it’s time to proofread.
The proofread is essentially the last read through of your book before you publish and the first time you will be reading it as a book. It’s important at this stage not to get too lost in the story (although it is a good indication of a great book!). In this stage, you really want to focus on the words, on making sure there aren’t any lingering typos or unclear sentences.
The proofread is also where you check your formatting, which was detailed in the previous post in this series. You want to double check everything. Are the margins the right size? Did the page numbers print in the right spot? Is the font too big or too small? Did everything translate well from Microsoft Word to print? Chances are there will be something that didn’t work or something that you don’t like now that you’re seeing it in printed format. For me, it was the Gutter of the book -- the margin on the inside of the pages that is eaten a bit by the spine. Mine was too small, so some of the words got lost.
Whatever mistakes you find, whether editing or formatting, once you’ve done a thorough read through, return to your document and make the necessary adjustments. Then order a second proof. There is no limit to the amount of proofs you can order before publication, but I would recommend 2 at minimum. The first one is a given, but the second is too ensure that your changes actually worked. There’s nothing worse than publishing the book, ordering your final copies, and then finding out your readers have been receiving books that aren’t quite right.
You can also give your proof copy to a friend/family member to read as well, for a second pair of eyes. It’s quite common at this stage in the game to gloss over mistakes because you know the story like the back of your hand. That’s why it’s also good to have a significant break from the story before doing the proofread, like starting another project.
So there you have it, a short guide to what a proof copy is and how/why you do a proofread. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out! You can either leave a comment, DM me on Instagram, or use my contact form on the About Me page of my website.
Next week I’ll be doing a post about some of my favourite books growing up and I’m quite excited to reminisce with all of you. The final post in this series will be at the end of the month and I will talk about the actual step of publishing your book!