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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why is proofreading your book like wiping?

When I was being toilet-trained, one of my parents told me to keep wiping until the most recent wad of toilet paper (I was only allowed to use four squares at a time) came up clean.

Even at that young age I had an analytical mind. It seemed wasteful to have wiped when there was nothing left to wipe.

I suggested to my father that it would be more efficient (more "green" in 2010 terminology) if I stopped wiping after I reached the point of diminishing returns, and that I should stop when I could be reasonably sure that the next sheet would be pristine even after use.

Pop did not approve. He insisted that a pristine bottom was more important than saving paper.

Pop also did not accept my waste-reduction plan to save the final clean wad so it could be used as the first wad the next time I needed to wipe.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I finished proofreading and correcting the seventh printed proof of a new book about using a self-publishing company. The book has 366 pages and while it is an excellent book, I started writing it 18 months ago and am growing tired of reading it over and over and over again. While not perfect (no book is), the seventh proof was "good enough" to be published.

Theoretically, I should keep proofreading until I make it through all 366 pages without finding anything to fix. But if I didn't find anything to fix, that would mean that the last boring read-through was just as wasteful as the last wad of Charmin.

But, even if I find no errors, there's always something that can made better--and further delay publication. I ordered proof #8 to be printed by my local UPS store, and a few hours later I started wiping again.

I'm beginning to feel wiped out.

1 comment:

  1. yeah, so i have a few proofs. i ordered about three before i noticed that i had two separate chapters that had been duplicated by me, during the formating process. i wasn't happy.

    now apparently my manuscript is filled with weak verbs....

    i am currently trying to decide if i want to fix all of them, or just make "weak verbs" my writing style and the rest of the literary world can just suck it, if they do not like it.

    i mean, i am self pubbing anyway, not like an agent is going to be yelling at me over email or phone to correct them. but, out of respect for myself, and my work, i am trying to fix the problem.

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