This is a question that we get asked a lot at Lettertec Books, just like so much other questions, there is no definitive or set answer. The correct answer is; it depends. It depends on you and the quality of the work you have produced; it depends on your target market and it depends on your budget.
For most books that we print and publish, we recommend that you get them proofread. It doesn’t matter how good of a writer and speller that you are, but it is a fact that proofreading your own work is difficult. You have written the work, gone over it and almost know it off by heart. Due to this, you will find that you skip over very simple errors, never mind the complex ones.
At Lettertec Books, we recently put together a publishing guide called, “Get Published Now,” we worked with several publishing professionals when putting it together, it was proofread by four members of staff and two advisors and then we sent it to an editor to proofread properly. Since this book is important to us, we felt it was worth the time and investment. The editor went through it and sent it back to us full of edits, suggestions and changes. Initially we were surprised at how many changes he wanted, but when we went through them, we agreed with everyone of them. No matter how many times we went over it, no matter how many people viewed it, nothing compared to a good editor. By fixing up the book, he made it much better and clearer.
Too often we have seen people who have worked hard on their books, sometimes for years and when they get the final result, they are not happy as there are some errors in there. It could be a very simple error, such as a person’s name being incorrect, or grammatical issues such as their, there and they’re. It is always a shame when this happens.
If your budget allows, then hire a professional to do the job. They are brilliant at finding errors, both large and small and will help the book flow better and be better at the end. There are different types of proofreading, editing and copyediting, all to suit your needs and budgets. They range from a simple fixing of apostrophes and punctuation, to entire structural edits of your book, character changes and story rewrites. A professional editor is very valuable and you can find a long and approved list of editors at the Association of Freelance Editors, proofreaders and indexers www.afepi.ie/ on that website you will find editors based on subject matter. Most of the editors also have a rough price guide for you but it is best to contact each one.
Everyone has different budgets and requirements with their books, if you cannot stretch the budget for a professional proof-reader, then at the very least, ask a friend, or familiar member to read the book for you. Ask them to be honest with you and to be ruthless with it. If possible, ask a few people to read it for you with a good red pen. There is no point in them reading it and not giving you honest feedback and edits.
If you are keeping the book for a private collection, such as a family history book, or company history, then you can get away with not proofreading the book as it is not for general sale. However, even then, it is still best to get someone to go over the book for you to avoid embarrassment of a simple error.
Small tip, make sure to get the editor to proofread your book cover with the title and the blurb. This is an area often neglected and errors can occur here. If a potential customer picks up your book and sees a badly written or editor blurb, they might put the book down right away, no matter how good the inside of the book is.
Keep in mind that no book is perfect, every book has mistakes in them no matter how many times they are proofread and who has done the work, it is a fact of life and of publishing. If a few slip in, it won’t ruin the book. Anyone who keeps an eye on this blog will often see errors and typos. We try to minimise them, but they are there.
We at selfpublishbooks work with several editors and proofreaders, if you want to discuss the your requirements, get in touch either online or by phone and we will be happy to go through your options.