Now that you’ve finished your draft manuscript, and maybe done some edits, you’ll need to get it proofread, and please don’t skip this part, feedback prior to going to print will really help with your book’s impression and reviews that it may receive.
So, how do you get your book proofread?
For many self-publishing authors this is the first option, but you have to be careful, when you are so close the manuscript you can fail to see where errors are. So, if you do decide to proofread your own book, wait, give it a couple of weeks leaving it completely alone. You need to take a break away from it so that you can return with a fresher pair of eyes and be more objective in its review.
Consider printing it first.
As crazy as it might seem, we tend to read things differently upon the screen in comparison to that on the printed page (we have also been told the same from countless authors). Once you have done your first proofread, upload and order a proof copy of your book and then go through the printed copy, you’ll be genuinely surprised at the issues you missed.
In last week’s blog post, we looked at software which will help authors with editing, grammar and spelling (and many of these are free), now, this won’t tell you whether your book makes sense or is something that the public will go wild for, but it will help you in finding any issues that can easily be missed when reviewing your own work.
Understand your own knowledge.
Remember, it is impossible to know everything, but luckily there are those who know how to proofread that have created courses for you to learn the best techniques from. Online services such as Udemy have a seemingly limitless selection of courses aimed at anyone trying to learn something new. They also have a good selection of courses aimed at how to proofread (over 200 to choose from), a small selection of them are free, but most are around $15.
So, before you try to ‘wing it’, check out the courses, they could save you a great deal of time and give you a far better result when complete.
Enlist friends and family
This is by far the most popular option for so many authors, but be careful, those closest to us tend to be less critical with feedback, of course, this comes from a place of love, but it doesn’t help with polishing your book.
When getting people you know to read your book, tell them explicitly not to pull any punches and that this is a first draft, you want to make them feel comfortable when they give you their opinion that you won’t take it as an insult and become defensive, after all, they are doing you a favor, and I’m sure you still want to keep them as a friend.
When friends and family read your work, they’ll hopefully find those errors you may have missed, but they’ll also normally give you an opinion on the book too, this can be great for editing purposes, again, as long as they are comfortable in giving you that feedback.
Get a professional to do it
This is the more costly approach, but it is the better option for most authors, getting a professional proofreader can cost anywhere between $10 per hour to $100 per hour, the large range denotes experience and the level of expertise that you are buying.
Don’t forget why you’re doing it.
Proofreading your book ensures that your manuscript is professional and is received by its audience in that manner too, people are quick to point out issues in reviews on Amazon, so your completed book needs to be free of basic errors and make sense when being read.
It is time consuming, but so was writing it.
Editing software has come a long way over the years. From the early days of just letting you know when you made a spelling mistake, it can now help you shape a paragraph into something that will read more professionally and give you an edge with your writing skills. This isn’t to say that you won’t still benefit from having a professional editor give your book the once over, but it will save you from a great number of edits, and if you are doing everything by yourself, it can stop basic mistakes in grammar from slipping through.
The good news is that there are some great options for authors when choosing some editing software. Here are five options that you might want to consider.
One – QuillBot
Quillbot is a free online grammar checker, here you can copy and paste sections of writing into its online page, it will highlight errors and give solutions which can be applied quickly and with just one click.
However, when writing a manuscript this option will not be that practical, so they also have extensions for Word and Doc, this allows you to edit as you go.
The online site has options for paraphrasing sentences and summarizing them, which may come in handy when writing your book’s blog.
A free site which offers a lot to the author, Quillbot is worth a look.
Two – Scrivener
Since its launch in 2007, Scrivener has gone on to become the most popular option for authors, allowing you to construct your book and offering lots of tools aimed at authors.
However, it works best when integrated with other software such as Prowritingaid which will help with your grammar and editing.
Scrivener is a great option and certainly gives an author helpful tools for all stages of writing and also comes with some free templates, but it can take a while to get to grips with using it and is more costly than most writing software options.
Three – ProWritingAid
Another incredibly popular editing software option, with more features than others, ProWritingAid integrates with more writing software than any other and with their premium service they have no word count or size limitations.
They do offer a free version of the service, but it limits the review to 500 words, for most authors the premium is by far the better option and is priced at $79 for a year’s subscription.
A reliable and precise tool for authors, ProWritingAid is trusted by many self-publishing authors to polish their manuscripts as they go.
Four – Grammarly
Grammarly has to be the most popular checker available right now, easy to download and integrates nicely into Word, you can easily adjust your writing as you go. It also integrates with your email and social media (basically anywhere you write on your computer), ensuring that your grammar is correct at all times.
Grammarly is free but does offer premium options which (as you may already expect) can be better for authors, offering more in the way of editing tools, you can upload documents to be checked, but there are some limitations, it seems to be better when you have the extension within your writing software.
Five – Hemmingway
Hemmingway is a free online writing app (you can download it for both Windows and Mac for a one off payment of $19.99), although it’s considered a bit more basic when alongside some of the other writing apps available, it is very straightforward and will certainly help you in improving your writing skills.
It works by highlighting sections of your writing with different colors, these indicate any changes that you should consider making to the areas to make the sentence more powerful.
The general consensus is that for a free app it will help your writing greatly and comes with tools to help you adjust your manuscript in ways which will improve its structure, it may not be the most powerful app available, but for free, it’s still very good.
Recently KDP took the long-awaited step of offering hardbacks as an option to their print on demand authors, they had trialed it with a large group of beta authors (we were creating covers for them some time ago) and with an obvious success, they rolled the option out to every KDP author.
The hardbacks on offer are case wraps, which are hardbacks using a front and back board with the cover wrapped around the edges of the boards and glued in place, they offer another option for the author and one which many are utilizing with the launch of their own books.
But getting a book cover design ready to use with their new hardback service is a little different to that of the existing paperbacks, but not too different.
The first thing that we noticed when KDP rolled out this new option was the change to their template page, if you don’t already know, KDP gave you a couple of options when preparing a book cover design, they gave details of the thickness of each page (for both cream and white paper), you could then multiply by your page count to figure out the spine width, then add on the front and back page along with the trim areas. Or you could download one of their custom templates, this you could use to build your book cover on top of.
The only thing with their templates is that they went up in batches of ten pages, in some cases this could lead to slight misalignment when looking at where the front page met the edge of the spine, in fairness it was very small, but it was still frustrating.
There new template page now works for both paperback and hardback designs, it also asks for more information from the author and also creates the final template down to the specific page number (and not rounded up to the nearest ten).
The image below shows the new page.
When you go to the print cover calculator page, the first option it asks for is the binding type, you can either select ‘Hardback’ or ‘Paperback’, next is the interior, for most authors the selection will be black & white (unless of course you are printing a book which will have images or illustrations in).
Moving on to paper type, this is the paper color that the book’s interior will be, as a rule, fiction tends to be on cream and non-fiction on white (but this is not set in stone). Please note that if you are printing a color book, you can only have white paper for the interior.
A new option they have added for the template is the page-turn direction, depending upon the language that your book is going to be printed in, you can have the option for books which read from right to left.
Next is the measurement for the book, giving you the option of both inches and millimeters, although when you download the final template, it will give you the dimensions in both.
The last dropdown option is for the trim size of the book, now currently KDP are offering five different sizes for their hardbacks, these are:
5.5 x 8.5 in - 6 x 9 in - 6.14 x 9.21 in
7 x 10 in - 8.25 x 11 in
Given time they may extend these to include other trim sizes, but for the moment it’s a good selection and offers the most common sizes for self-published printed books.
The final option in the form is for the book’s page count, enter this and then hit the yellow ‘calculate dimensions’ button.
The next screen will show you the dimensions for the book cover along with the location of trim areas and safe areas for the elements of your design.
You can now click on the ‘Download Template’ button to download the PDF which you can then use to build your book cover design upon. Once downloaded, it’s still worth keeping the screen up, as this will give you the exact dimensions for each element as reference.
The template can be opened up in Photoshop and then prepared for use as your book cover’s base, the red areas are parts of the book where nothing essential should be placed, so elements such as text, logos or important imagery/artwork should not go within these areas. The white areas are where the essential parts of the design will go, again, logos, text and important artwork needs to stay within these areas.
The red areas to the left and right of the spine are larger than that of a paperback, these areas are the hinges of the book and join the boards to the book’s spine, you’ll also see the outer edges of the cover are a lot larger too, this area is the wrap and gets folded around the boards when gluing the cover to the actual book, it’s still important to have the artwork of the book to fill these areas, but note that it will be wrapped around the edges and most of it will be out of sight.
So, in review, the new hardback option for authors is a great addition to KDP’s current services, the new templates are more precise than before (which is great from a design perspective), but the next question we have to ask ourselves, when will they be printing dust jackets?
Book cover designers.
All information within this website (including its blog) is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. JD&J Design LLC does not make any warranties about the reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information in this website is strictly at your own risk. JD&J Design LLC is not liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of this site and information.