Why Your Book’s ‘Finishing Details’ Make A Huge Difference

060915-PreviewEveryPageMy new office is getting [this close] to being move-in ready. I spent a very LONG hour and a half today doing the final caulking around the baseboards and door frames. So I can do the touch up painting.

And there was a not-so-small part of me who just wanted to skip it. I wanted to just put the switch plate covers back on and call it good – move in!

Then I realized that the lack of caulk (and touch up painting) would drive me nuts. It would look unfinished, unprofessional, and just… lazy.

Which made me think of the last bits of publishing projects: the previewing each and every page bits. It’s at the end and I’m usually trying to convince myself that it’s okay not to.

But you know what? When I’m previewing a book (or reviewing a proof) I look at EVERY SINGLE PAGE

Yep, every single page. Is that a huge PITA (pain in the a$$) for large manuscripts? Yep! Do I care? Nope!

Here’s why I harp on this for myself and others, and why I do it for every book I write or publish: I always catch errors in the previewer that I’ve missed in every other version of the book. Occasionally, those errors are typographical, but more often than not, they have to do with formatting. In the previewer, “little” formatting errors like commas not attached to a word will stick out. Like this , comma that isn’t touching the s in this. I’m purposely hiding this typo in the middle of a paragraph. Maybe it’ll catch your eye and maybe it won’t. Stuff like this drives me crazy! Especially in a published eBook.

Will you catch every single formatting problem? Nope. One of my books, “Easy Camping Recipes from The Outdoor Princess: 33 Simple Camping Recipes” was first published with a formatting error. And a reviewer was “kind” enough to bring it to my attention:

Kim has done a decent job with the text layout and has thoughtfully included an interactive Table of Contents, though the interface does need some work and the Table of Contents includes a link to a blank page titled “Return to Table of Contents” and another called “Open Carefully and Enjoy”. (You can access is just fine from the TOC button, but the back arrow will take you to a page with a non-working link that says “back to the Table of Contents.) Kim might want to take a second look at that and issue an update.

Imagine my panic and embarrassment when I saw that review! I pulled open the eBook on my Kindle and the reviewer was correct. I fixed the problem and uploaded the changed file. Whew! Crisis averted. I then went back and triple checked all my other titles.

Lesson learned. While this was embarrassing, it wasn’t the end of the world. The entire book was still readable and usable. Why do I bring this up? Because a fellow independently self-published author shared a similar story but with more unpleasant results.
She published her book, set a free download day with Amazon.com, and paid for some advertising. She had an unheard of 22,000 downloads and hit the bestsellers list “free” in several categories. Then negative reviews started pouring in:

Due to a formatting issue, the book was unreadable: a margin had been set incorrectly and all the sentences were cut off. This began a third of the way through the book; beyond where she double checked using the previewer.

I really can’t imagine the stress of trying to deal with this! Fixing the formatting, begging Amazon to contact the people who downloaded the book to issue a corrected file, seeing one-star reviews, and having wasted advertising money. It gives me a stomach ache just thinking about it!

Moral of the story:
Preview each and every page on the previewer! For every book format (different eBooks and print). Every time.

Kim Galloway
Find me!