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Monday, August 9, 2010

Freelance Mistake #4: Skipping the Proof

Truth be told, I'm a bit embarrassed to share this mistake...but since I just committed it, I figure it's timely.

I had a book deadline today. And I met it...with four hours to spare. But I worked all weekend to make that happen. I finished the final draft on Friday, and printed it out. I knew the manuscript was in great shape, and considered skipping the proof--after all, I'd edited and proofed each chapter as I was writing it. My conscience and my ego battled for a bit--I knew I should proofread it, but hey, I knew I'd done a great job. And I was sick of looking at it, you know?

Fortunately, my conscience won, and good thing...when I read through the manuscript word for word, I found mistakes. A lot of them--all minor, but mistakes nonetheless. I also discovered, reading aloud, that I had used the word "typically" over and over...and included the phrase "get your foot in the door" nine times. (So apparently I typically like to get my foot in a lot of doors!) Seriously, proofing the mansucript word for word and then inputting those changes took me another 11 hours or so...but it was well worth it when I finished.

Don't rely on a cursory read-through before you turn something in, be it an article, essay, or a query letter. Print it out and read it aloud--you'll be surprised at how much more you catch when you "hear" the words, not just read them.