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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.


  1. Excellent advice! I have this problem even with my short pieces, like blog posts that I've already read through a hundred times. Inevitably, I hit the "publish" button...and then find that stray typo or repeated phrase. Congratulations on the book (and on making your deadline)!

  2. Thanks, Amanda! Believe me, I've done the same thing with blog posts, but at least you can edit them after you post (and hope that no one saw your mistake in the meantime!) :) With a book, not so much!

  3. Its a battle I fight all the time. I have the occasional habit of unknowingly using the same word twice in the same sentence. Only after proofing it do I catch the error.