If you're picturing me sitting in a hammock on a crisp fall morning with my manuscript and a mug of hot spiced cider, uhhhh, no, that's not the idyllic picture I'm seeing!
I'm in the final stages of preparing to publish an ebook and at this point in the process it's a lot of left-brained work. Reading it, reading it again, making changes, checking those changes, etc. etc. etc.
In the world of traditional publishing (ie print books), the publisher will send you a "proof" to look at -- a paper or digital copy of how your book looks after it's typeset and before it's actually printed.
You can make all the changes you want up to the moment when the printer starts the printing presses. The further you go into the process, the more it costs you to make those changes, but you do have that option.
If you publish an ebook, however, you don't get to see a proof of your finalized typeset manuscript. Why not? Because each ebook platform is different. Even if you proof what your book will look like on an iPad, it's going to look different on a Kindle. And still different on a Nook.
So if you're publishing an ebook, you have to make sure your manuscript is absolutely perfect before you upload it. Once it's uploaded and formatted and sent to iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the other digital bookstores, it's too late to fix a typo.
Proof, tweak, rinse, repeat
That's the stage I'm at now on my ebook prep--making sure my manuscript is error-free before I upload it. It's amazing how you can read your manuscript a hundred times and miss a silly typo. Or 10 of them.
Kudos to my writer's group for reading my manuscript so many times along the way and catching so much. And kudos to virtual assistant Susan Tulini (@SusanTulini), who proofed it last week (and yes, found some stuff we all missed).
So here's my tip for you...
This works whether you're publishing an ebook or a traditional book or your college term paper: Print it out and read it on paper.
Everything looks different on paper. You'll be amazed at the silly stuff you missed. I was!
Plus you can easily see how long your chapters are and if you need to combine any (or break longer ones into 2 chapters), see if a page is clogged with paragraphs that are too long, check where your illustrations or graphics go, and many more things that you can't see as well on screen.
Mark your changes in red so you can easily spot them. After you've read it all over, make the changes on your computer. A day or so later, check all the changes; it is way too easy to fix one typo and make another one in the process. (Ask me how I know.)
It's a bit of a cumbersome process to print it all out and read it, but believe me, as soon as you find the first typo that you missed in reading your manuscript on your computer screen 100 times, you'll know it was all worth it.