Starting this week, "The Final Page" column will provide a weekly tip for avoiding mistakes like these as you get ready to print your book. A professional final product makes the difference between being reviewed on The New Podler, or being one of the millions of books that give self-publishing a bad rap.
Tip #1: Use the "find" function.
Even though I am an editor, my proofreader caught many small typos in my 80-page manuscript. Whatever program you use for writing, its "find" function will save you the twinge of humility you'll otherwise feel when you start noticing typos in your just-published book.
- Double periods (..) When you cut sentences, the second period often gets overlooked.
- Punctuation outside of quotation marks (",) (".) ("!) ("?) All punctuation goes inside, no matter how funny you think it looks. Refer to Strunk and White's Elements of Style for the very few exceptions.
- Space around dashes ( -- ) All your long dashes, or em-dashes, should be right up against the words before and after them.
- Fake em-dashes (--) You should also replace all double- or triple-hyphens (--) (---) with a true em-dash (—). Using the "find and replace" function in Word, go to the drop-down menu "special" and select em-dash.
- Peak, peek, pique. Do yourself a favor. Look up all three of these words right now. Use "find" and correct the ones that are misused.
- Hyphenate e-mail (email) The style guides agree: there is a hyphen in e-mail.
- Internet is capitalized (internet) Anybody who works with books will identify this rookie mistake right away.
- Double tabs. Search for "^t^t" to find over-indented paragraphs. You will also want to do a visual scan of each page, since some double tabs result from a tab space used on top of an automatic 0.5" first-line indent.
- The d-less conjunction (an) We type "and" a lot. It is inevitable that we miss the D once in a while, and spell-check won't catch it.
- Pubic humiliation, a.k.a. TMI. Search for "pubic." You meant to type "public," I know, but you might have missed that L.