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5 Tips for Catching Errors in Your Manuscript

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What is your worse fear as a self-publishing writer? For many, it's finding mistakes after publication.

Imagine receiving boxes of books from the printer only to discover a glaring typo. After countless hours of editing and revising the document, followed by editing and revising the proof, followed by another blue-line final, how did it get by?

How do you prevent errors before they wind up in your book? No matter what editing procedures you undertake, mistakes happen.

But employing these 5 methods can drastically decrease the chances of mistakes finding their way into your published book.

1 - Employ an editing service.

The most common mistakes are minor, for example incorrect word use (their, they're, there) and simple misspellings.

2 - Get a second (and third) set of eyes.

Even if you don't wish to pay a professional, anyone who reviews your document will find mistakes you invariably miss. It's a function of the brain called "cerbrainiumitis." Okay, okay, that term is made-up - but the truth is, you're much more familiar with your manuscript than anyone else, and as a result, apt to miss obvious mistakes simply because your eyes glaze over them.

3 - Read your manuscript backwards.

Backwards reading is the antidote to "cerbrainiumitis" because a critical view of the English language cannot be corrupted by the flowing exposition you've massaged into sparkling prose. When you read your manuscript backwards, it's just a bunch of words, and those mistakes literally jump off the page.

4 - Read your manuscript out loud.

When you're forced to say the words your brain is forced to slow down and concentrate on the material. Bonus - you may discover stumbling blocks like awkward sentence structures and choppy dialogue when hearing your book read aloud.

5 - Use the right kind of publisher.

What do you do when that 5,000 print run costs $10,000 and features a grave error that cannot be dismissed? Your best recourse upon discovering an error is typically a sticker and a sense of humor. But a publisher that allows you to revise your book after publication (for a reasonable fee) means you're never stuck with your blunders.

Brent Sampson is the President & CEO of Outskirts Press Publishing at and author of Publishing Gems: Insider Information for the Self-Publishing Writer. Information at

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