Saturday, October 21, 2017

Proofing Hardcopies is Essential

Scott D. Parker

When you are an independent author, it means you have control over all aspects of the writing. It also means you are an independent publisher and, When it comes to hardcopies, you have to match what the traditional publishers do all the time.

For my four mystery novels, I created new Second Edition ebook covers. Those came out back in May. All four now have a unified look and feel and, moving forward, future books in this growing series featuring three characters will all sport similar covers.

But I hadn’t updated the paperbacks. I removed them from CreateSpace back in May with the intention of focusing on ebooks. But now, in the fall, I’m revising the paperbacks. I updated the covers with Adobe Illustrator and revamped the interior layouts with InDesign. Those files looked very good on the screen in those two programs and they even looked good on CreateSpace’s online viewer. Nevertheless, I ordered hardcopy proofs. I still get a charge when I open a box from the mail and see my books inside.

Despite how good they looked initially, I dove into their pages. I wanted to verify all the minute details were perfect before I approved them for the public.

Boy am I glad I did.

Little things that my eyes and brain easily missed when looking at a computer screen were easily spotted on the printed page. No, it wasn’t with the novels themselves; it was with all the extra material I included within the two covers. For example, in the back of each book, I include some excerpts of other novels. Well, the fonts for the titles of those stories were slightly different across all four books. Easy to miss when you examine each individual file but glaringly obvious when you have all four hardcopies on a table in front of you each turned to the same respective page. Ditto for the “About the Author” sections. One cover’s image was off by a couple of millimeters. Again: it was something I only would have noticed with a hardcopy.

The end result—after some tweaking to the files and re-uploading them—will be better, more cohesive books that will equal those from traditional publishers.

Now, I suspect some of y’all reading this will have the same obvious conclusion: of course this is what you’re supposed to do. I know it and have done it time and time again. But when it comes to a series of books that have a unified look-and-feel, I advise all authors out there to place all the books in front of you, laid out on a table. It will only be then that discrepancies show themselves, discrepancies you might have missed upon reviewing each book separately.

Have y’all ever had an issue like this?


Dana King said...

Oh my, yes. Self-publishing has many rewards and a feeling of accomplishment that can't be matched, but there are also elements that are an enormous pain in the ass. I've seen and had to deal with everything you mentioned but didn't deal with it as well as you seem to have.

Thomas Pluck said...

Lawrence Block mentioned a copy-editing error that had been missed by two publishers and was finally caught when he self-published one of his back titles. It was a repeated line in a sentence. It can happen to anybody, that's why we proofread and hire copy-editors and ... give the author a break when this happens.