Proofreading Is for More Than Just Books

I know the value of proofreading. In fact, my first a course in miracles books was edited very poorly, and as a result, I missed out on getting some reviews-reviewers actually told me they wouldn’t review the book because of the proofreading errors, so I hired a second editor and reissued the book. Since then, I have been extra careful with everything I have published-in book form-to make sure it is proofread.

However, I also post a blog and articles and have websites, and every now and then, I get a nasty comment from the self-appointed grammar police about an error I have made. Because I am part of the publishing and book marketing world, people forget I’m human. I’m expected to be perfect in my grammar and punctuation. Although I strive to be excellent, I know I’ll never be perfect. I don’t think an occasional error is a big deal. If I make one and someone points it out, I’ll gladly correct it. But there is no place for rudeness in pointing out a person’s mistakes, no matter what the issue. People who act like I’ve committed a major crime or I’m a complete idiot because I didn’t catch that I used “that” where I should have used “who” or worse, “who” where I should have used “whom” must lead small lives if they have nothing better to do. I am sure I am operating at 99.5 percent error free capacity, and that is better than most people.

That said, I know typos and grammatical errors are a real turn off to readers because they are to me. Any good author knows he needs an editor and a proofreader for his book, but he may still try to wing it when it comes to everything else he writes.

Do you need a proofreader for your blog, your website, your marketing pieces (brochures, posters, bookmarkers, etc.)?

Yes, I think you do. At the very least, you need to proofread them several times yourself. Let me explain why these pieces are just as important and needs just as much writing and proofreading care as your book.

We have a tendency to rank different kinds of writing. A book is at the top of the list as the most important kind of published writing. After that might come newspapers and magazines, then printed marketing pieces, websites, and finally maybe blogs.

Is a typo on a website or a blog a big deal? Are people going to quit reading your books or not buy your services because you have a typo? If you’re an author, or involved in the publishing world, they just might. I know one editing firm that had a typo on the home page of its website. If these editors couldn’t catch that mistake, do I want to trust them with my book?

Are blogs really less important than books? Are marketing pieces less important to proofread than books? I have to say firmly, “No.”

You might argue that books are special. People keep them for years and may read them more than once. They are substantial-a hundred or more pages long. People don’t pay that much attention to a brochure. They may only skim your blog and it will probably only be noticed for a few days and then get less attention once it’s replaced by newer postings.

Yes, those arguments are true, but ask yourself, “What makes a person decide to read my book?” Yes, the reader may stumble on your book in the bookstore and decide to buy it, but a lot of effort goes into marketing so that book gets noticed. Marketing pieces-including websites, blogs, and printed brochures-are your invitation, your selling point to read the book. If a person isn’t impressed with your brochure or your blog, then he or she isn’t going to be impressed with your book.

I knew one self-published author who had to be dyslexic the way he writes. Fortunately, he was smart enough to find a good editor who polished up his book so it read well and was error free. The book was sent to the layout person and the proofs sent back to the author, who then decided to read through the proofs and make some changes-without consulting his editor. This author was an intelligent man with good ideas and good content in his book, but he wasn’t a good writer, and unfortunately, he didn’t realize just how bad of a writer he was. The layout person was no expert in grammar and punctuation, so she made the changes the author suggested and sent the book to the printer. The end result, several typos and errors that could have been avoided.

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