Once the proofs for your acim, both text and cover, arrive, you will have already had your book read and re-read and proofread and hopefully edited and proofread by an editor. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to proofread again. Even if your book was completely flawless after you or your editor sent it to the book layout and cover design people, or even from there to the printer, many mistakes can still happen. At two points before the final books are printed, you will have the opportunity to see your proofs-first, after the layout person has completed his or her work, and again once the printer has prepared a sample copy. Take advantage of both of these proofs to catch any last minute errors, or new errors, that may have crept in.
Proofing the PDFs of the Text and Cover
Before your book is sent to the printer, your book designer will send you PDFs of the cover and text to approve. Look over these very carefully, and if you have an editor, have him or her do the same. I suggest you sit down and carefully read through the entire text to ensure there are no errors.
In the text, look for typographical errors for any additions not in your original manuscript, including title pages, copyright pages, the Table of Contents, headers, and footers. Usually, publishers will print the titles of the chapters in the headers. The layout person had to type these titles so make sure there are no misspellings. Look at all the chapter titles on the pages and make sure they consistently match the Table of Contents in wording and in fonts and being uppercase or lowercase letters.
If you’re reading the entire text, you will also catch any layout issues, but be on the look out for quotations or anything you wanted to have with a special layout, such as being indented or centered, as well as any tables. Make sure tables and photographs correspond with the text where they are discussed, and as much as possible, make sure tables are printed on one page and not across pages, or that situations don’t exist where a reader will need to flip pages back and forth to look at a table or chart. Look also for odd blank parts of pages before and after photographs inserted in the text. Don’t forget to read the photo captions for errors and to make sure the captions are consistent in wording and appearance throughout the book.
A good layout person will have manipulated your text so it will flow around your photographs or illustrations, but in doing so, it’s possible a line or even a paragraph of text can be lost (hidden behind an illustration), so read carefully to make sure nothing is missing. Also watch for a repeating paragraph in places. Trust me, I’ve read enough proofs to see all these errors occur.
Watch for photographs and illustrations that are also too close to the book’s gutter (the inside crease that holds the book together). You don’t want readers to strain their eyes or seriously have to bend back the book to see something in the gutter. You may end up having to move a photograph, which can mean text being moved and needing to be reviewed again for accuracy.
Read over the PDF of the cover multiple times. Besides looking for typos, now is the time to make sure all the necessary information is there-the correct ISBN number on the bar code, the correct price on the book, and the BISAC or genre category on the back cover such as Non-Fiction/History or Mystery/Suspense. Make sure the images are clear. Make sure you like all the colors with the understanding that the blue or other colors you want may be close but not exactly the same as the color you are seeing now because of the difficulty of matching colors.
If you find errors, send a list to the cover designer and layout person with all the errors you want corrected. You should not be charged for mistakes the cover designer or layout person made, but if you find excessive errors that are your fault because you did not proofread closely enough last time, they will probably charge you to correct them, but while that may be a hard lesson to learn, have the corrections made anyway. Mistakes will only hurt your book sales later if word of mouth starts spreading about the mistakes in the book. Insist upon seeing a corrected proof, and then proof it again, and if you find errors again, continue the process until your book is as perfect as possible.