How to Check Your Book Proof: Author Checklist

How to Check Your Book Proof: Author Checklist

You’re almost there!

You’ve trudged through the ups and downs of writing your book.

The book creation process is complete and you have yourself a brand spanking new cover design and interior layout that will draw readers into your book and won’t let them go.

The drum roll begins, as you click the order button …

and your print proof is sent on it’s way!

Your anticipation builds with every day that passes until the package arrives.

Finger biting … gnashing of teeth … pacing back and forth.

The moment has come, as you hold your freshly printed book in your sweaty hands.

Excitement, relief and a few nerves are all fighting for position.

Now STOP!

Take a breath and calm the nerves, because you’ve got one last important task to do before you green-light your Pulitzer.

It’s time to review your print book proof

Publishing a book is quite a complicated process with many moving parts. It starts out with the manuscript, then editing, then interior layout (typesetting) and cover design.

This means errors can creep in during these steps and the physical print proof serves as the final step in checking over your book one last time, to catch any lingering oddities.

Viewing your print book proof in its entirety on paper instead of the computer screen brings objectivity; as if you’re seeing your book for the first time.

How to review your book proof

book proof

Step 1 of 2: Cover Checklist

The book cover makes the first impression and is your most important marketing tool. Take time to look it over thoroughly using the checklist below.

  1. Check the front cover title, subtitle, author name and other blurbs are all grammatically correct, clear and easy to read.
  2. That the colours on the cover look good.
  3. Your ISBN and barcode on the back are correct and match the ISBN on your interior copyright page.
  4. Read the back cover text carefully.
  5. If you have retail prices on the back cover, double-check them.
  6. Check your website URL on the back is correct.
  7. Look at the spine to check the text is grammatically correct and matches the front cover.

book proof

Step 2 of 2: Interior Checklist

First of all, read the whole book from start to finish. In doing so you’ll want to be checking for typographical errors, layout inconsistencies, that all the pages are correct and in the right order.

There are a number of things to check for, so use this checklist below.

  1. All the chapters are in the correct order and that your front and back pages, such as ‘about the author’, ‘dedication’ and others are in the right place.
  2. Your title page is in place.
  3. Your copyright page (also called an imprint page) is complete with all the correct information such as copyright year, publisher name and ISBN.
  4. Fonts throughout are consistent for the headings, paragraph text and other special sections.
  5. If you have dropcaps, make sure they are consistent and at the beginning of every chapter.
  6. Check the page headers are consistent across the tops of pages. These are the section or chapter titles at the top of each page. Check them carefully. They should not appear at the top of the opening chapter page.
  7. Chapter headings and sub-headings are consistent throughout the book.
  8. Check for unusual word spacing. Words wrongly joined together or spaced out too far from one another.
  9. Page numbers are correct throughout, with odd numbers always on the right-hand page.
  10. The table of contents headings match the chapter headings throughout and the corresponding page numbers are correct.
  11. Page references. For example if you have a statement in chapter 3 such as “on page 256”, check that the page reference is still correct.
  12. Page indents are correct. The first paragraph of a new chapter should not be indented. Paragraphs after scene breaks are generally not indented either.
  13. Orphans. These are often a word or two starting a sentence at the bottom of a page. If they can be moved to the following page so the sentence starts afresh, it’ll look and read better.
  14. Widows. These are generally a word or a part of a sentence that’s broken over to the top of the next page. It’s best to remove these if possible.
  15. Check footnotes (if applicable) are in the correct place or haven’t been left out.
  16. All URLs in the book are correct. Type them into your browser and make sure they work.

Did you spot something?

If you have corrections that need to be addressed, you have opportunity to make these now and upload new revisions for your files. It’s not uncommon to make any final adjustments and those people helping you create and publish your book should be happy to help.

It’s worth taking the time over a coffee or two and reviewing your book proof. Once done, you’ll find peace of mind that you’re publishing the best book you can and that it will stand out from the pack.

Hint: Bookmark this page and return to it when reviewing your book proof. 

4 Responses to How to Check Your Book Proof: Author Checklist

  1. I wish I had read your blog before I self-published my first book. As a first time author I hired an editor and graphic illustrator for my children’s cookbook. I relied heavily on their knowledge and expertise. Anxious to get the book published I overlooked many errors and signed off on the book. I printed 200 books with the errors selling about 150 of them. It was not only embarrassing but also costly. Thanks for providing such helpful information! Lesson learned I will now be proofing my work more carefully.

    • You’re welcome Laura, glad it was helpful. You’re not the first author to have experienced that unfortunate situation. Perhaps you can bookmark this page and return to it for your next book. We are all constantly learning. 🙂

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