Why Proofreading Is an Essential Task, Especially for Self-Publishers
by Owen Fourie
Freedom to self-publish your writing is good. Self-publishing without taking care to proofread your writing is not good.
I have read several self-published works of fiction that would have been commendable but for the obvious lack of proofreading.
Proofreading is necessary, even if you do it yourself
Anyone can join the wave of indie publishing and bypass the gatekeepers of the world of literature, but this does not eliminate the need to proofread your writing.
As a writer, you have taken the trouble to put together something of value. You are obviously proud of your achievement. Your writing should be a work of art, and it deserves those final touches of perfection before publication.
As a writer, your respect for your readers is displayed in the care that you have taken to produce a flawless text. Such care, in turn, will win the respect of your readers. When care is lacking, respect is lost.
Proofread all your writing
Although I am addressing the self-publisher here, this can be applied to writing that is done in school or college or business. Good writing that wins respect reflects the care of the writer when it comes to the mechanics of the task (spelling, capitalization, and punctuation), grammar, and the choice of words.
When proofreading isn’t done, it shows, and you suffer
In a short story that I read recently, the writer had obviously not taken the trouble to proofread her work. Amongst the many errors, the use of me, my, and mine stood out. The rest of the text gave clear indication that the writer was well aware of the correct use of these words. Such incorrect usage was the plainest evidence of no proofreading.
Here are four examples of wrong usage. The word that should have been used, according to the context, appears in brackets. This is not the only story affected in this way. Other self-publishers are making the same mistakes.
- I sat there with his hand touching my. [mine]
- He leaned to me ear and whispered. [my]
- The room was twice the size of my. [mine]
- His lips touched my again … [mine]
To publish material without proofreading it and catching these obvious errors makes the writing appear inferior, unprofessional, and, unfortunately, plainly stupid. Don’t do that to yourself if you would like to build a loyal readership.
To gain respect in the world of literature, produce error-free writing. If you can’t do it yourself, get someone who is good with the mechanics, grammar, and usage of English to proofread it for you. Don’t publish your work until this important step has been taken.
How important is proofreading to you? What would you say to someone who argues that proofreading is unnecessary because spelling and grammar checks on computers help to catch all the errors? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.
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