How to Proofread Your Copy and Make It Shine
My dad is a writer, among other things.
He has written many books over the past 50 years, mostly on treasure hunting, shipwrecks, and other maritime adventures. He even appeared on the classic TV game shows To Tell the Truth and What’s My Line?
His last book was on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, to which I contributed much of the research. After spending 12 years crafting the manuscript, he managed to come up with some new and exciting information as to what might have really happened to the aviatrix.
Dad’s current book is about the true story of Christopher Columbus, which has been in the works for the past five years.
I am also assisting him with this project — typing, editing, organizing, research. Whatever I can do.
My assistance on this project has been focused on careful proofreading.
I carefully read through each sentence, each paragraph, each page, noting where words are omitted or repeated, as well as checking for spelling and grammatical errors.
This, combined with the subject matter, important dates, and various names of Kings, Queens, and other notable characters, has been a huge challenge for me.
But, it has also strengthened my own writing.
Helping my father with his book has shown me more and more the importance of checking, double-checking, and then triple-checking my work.
No matter how short my copy is, or if I think I am good to go, I still do a few more read-throughs.
More often than not, I find some small error or two I missed before.
Catch Your Mistakes, Before Your Client Does
When doing any kind of paid writing; books, articles, sales letters, promotional emails, blog posts, online video scripts, white papers, case studies … even small social media ads …
This is very important …
A good habit to follow is when you finish your first draft of copy, let it sit for a day or two. Give your mind a break and a chance to recharge.
Then, go back and read through it.
Does it make sense to you?
Do the sentences flow together?
Is your piece easy to read?
See what words work and which don’t. Cut out the excess. Can you structure any sentences differently?
Then, read through your copy again.
How does it sound now?
Have you caught any mistakes?
Do this as many times as needed until you feel it is the best you can make it.
But also, don’t work your copy to death.
You need to know when to let go. When enough is enough. If you obsess over making it perfect, you’ll just drive yourself crazy.
Trust me, I know about this firsthand!
And, wouldn’t you rather be the one to find your mistakes, instead of your client?
Just think how that might affect any future jobs you may be offered, if your copy was returned with misspelled words, simple grammatical boo-boos, and the same idea repeated in various paragraphs.
Your client may just rethink hiring you again, if this is an example of your work.
That, to me, is enough motivation to take the time to get it right.
Do the Extra Work Now and It Will Pay Off Later
This process may seem tedious, but in the long run, it will pay off in spades.
Turning in a brightly polished piece will make you look good, as well as professional, which will greatly impress your client. The less he or she must go back and forth with you to improve your copy, the more work you’re likely to get from them in the future. This can also give you a good reputation in the business, which is very important.
Do your best when you write, and always remember to triple-check your work!
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »