Saturday, 11 January 2020

5 Tricks to Eliminate Typos from the Final Proof of Your Book - an informative and essential piece for all authors from Desiree Villene; writer for Reedsy (

Career authors share many of the same concerns, from financial uncertainty to social isolation to impostor syndrome. However, one terrifying possibility looms above all others, striking fear into our hearts and posing a constant threat to our legitimacy and accomplishments as writers: typos in an already-published work.

In all seriousness, just as every veteran writer will recognize the aforementioned fodder for existential crises, they’ll know that typos are frequently made and often difficult to catch. To complicate matters, if you’re publishing independently, you have to smoke out your own typos rather than relying upon the multi-layered editorial process of a traditional publisher (though to be fair, this can be faulty as well).

So if you’re embarking on, entrenched in, or just finishing up a book that you intend to publish, don’t underestimate the task of sweeping it for typos. Instead, familiarize yourself with these methods: five simple, effective tricks to eliminate typos from the final proof of your book, so you won’t end up with something you’d be ashamed to send your high school English teacher.

1. Have an app read it to you

“Read it out loud” is the oldest trick in the book for sorting out a book’s tricks (by which I mean typos; sorry, couldn’t resist the wordplay). But reading out loud to yourself won’t necessarily help you catch all the typos in your book. Your brain is primed to skip over the little mistakes that appear on a screen, plus the sheer quantity of text in a book makes it challenging — and exhausting — to sift through in its entirety.

For these reasons, it’s much more scrupulous to use a text-to-speech reader that will recite your book back to you. This will still take up a good chunk of time, but it’s easy enough to break up your book into manageable listening sessions while you’re getting ready for the day, preparing food, driving or commuting, etc. Just make sure you can always hearwhat the app is saying, lest you fall right back into the trap of missing those mistakes.

As for which app to use, there are countless text-to-speech (TTS) applications available. My favorite is Natural Readers, which offers voices that speak a little more slowly and clearly than your typical text-to-speech robot, allowing you to catch typos with ease. However, if you’re seeking efficiency, the classic TTS Reader will serve you better — and there are built-in (if rudimentary) TTS functions on most modern word processors as well.

2. Run a Grammarly check

Speaking of standard word processors, their spelling and grammar checkers will catch blatant misspellings and misused words, but what about subtler errors? To detect malformed sentences and words used out of context, you’ll need a more sophisticated tool. There are tons of programs designed to aid the editing process like Hemingway, AutoCrit, and ProWritingAid; however, for the proofreading stage specifically, I’d recommend Grammarly.

Of all the tools I’ve tested, Grammarly is the only one that consistently points out even the smallest errors, such as accidentally repeating a word (for instance, I’m prone to double articles, like “the the”). It will also help you fix questionable punctuation, passive voice, and clichés, on top of the spell check you’d get with any word processor. Basically, Grammarly works like a second, better brain: it analyzes text with contextual nuance, but isn’t vulnerable to human error.

The only downside of Grammarly is that, because it suggests changes in real-time, it can be a bit distracting when you’re trying to write. For this reason, I usually keep the extension turned off until I’m ready for a proof. Also remember that you don’t have to accept ALL of Grammarly’s suggestions, especially if they’re detrimental to your voice! But the thorough nature of the tool means it’s practically guaranteed to catch your typos, making it the best application out there for final-stage editing.

3. Print it out with unusual formatting

Another oft-repeated trick is to print out your work and read it on actual paper, rather than on a screen. So I’ll add another twist: before you print, switch up the formatting. This has the effect of defamiliarizing the text and forcing your brain to examine it as if it’s completely new. 

If you haven’t already double-spaced your work, do so now, and increase the margin size — both to alter the formation of the words, and to give yourself more room for corrections. You should also enlarge the font to 14-16 pt (at least) to make the typos “jump out.” Finally, consider changing the typeface itself from an industry standard to something unorthodox: American Typewriter, Courier, maybe even Comic Sans.

These fixes might seem suspiciously simple, but you’ll be amazed by their impact. Printed out in a large, nonstandard, double-spaced font, your manuscript will appear utterly foreign, which is exactly what you need for typo spotting (and for self-editing in general). If you still find yourself feeling too familiar with the text, try reading the chapters out of order, or each page “backward” — starting with the last sentence on the page and working back to the first. 

All that said, there’s no true substitute for actually reading a text for the first time… which is where this next tip comes in.

4. Ask a friend to read it

As daunting as it can be to ask someone else to read your book, it’s undoubtedly one of the best ways to check it for typos. So if you have a trusted friend who hasn’t done any other editing work for you, consider handing your manuscript off to them for proofreading duty. If you don’t want to edit the story or style any further, be clear that you only want the typos corrected: “This is the final version of the book and I won’t be changing anything else, but please let me know if you notice any spelling or grammar mistakes.”

Also keep in mind that you don’t want to pick just any friend for this task. For example, someone who typically speed-reads is not a good candidate, nor is someone who’s easily distracted and needs to take lots of breaks. You need someone with attention to detail, who reads carefully and comprehends meaning, rather than merely glancing over the words on the page. An author friend might be especially helpful, though you may also be inviting more structural criticism than you want at this stage.

Still, if you can find the right proofreader among friends, asking them for help is a cost-effective and reassuring way to eliminate typos. And if you can’t get someone to do it for free?

5. Hire a professional proofreader

This isn’t so much a “trick,” as it’s pretty common knowledge, but I’d be remiss not to mention the most reliable means of ridding your manuscript of typos. If you can afford it, and if you feel anxious or simply uncertain about typos in your final proof, the best solution is to hire a proofreader with the experience and eagle-eyed scrutiny to put your mind at ease.

A professional proofreader is familiar with common mistakes, so they’ll know what to look for, and years of combing through manuscripts will have sharpened their observational skills far beyond that of the average reader. You can glance through each proofreader’s portfolio to see which books they’ve checked — hard evidence that they operate reliably, and that published authors trust them to get the job done.

For those curious about other qualifications, most proofreaders are developmental and copy editors who also perform final proofs! However, don’t make the mistake of requesting a final proof from an editor who previously worked on your book. It might be tempting to collaborate again, but your editor(s) will be nearly as familiar with the text as you are, and proofreading demands a pair of fresh eyes.

While your own eyes may never be “fresh” when it comes to your own manuscript, you can approximate it brilliantly by combining these tips, and come away with a book you’re proud of in every capacity. Best of luck in your quest to unearth these mistakes, and may all of your writing be typo-free

Monday, 16 April 2018

Paris in the the spring -The Importance of Proof Reading!

So, you’ve written your book, spent months, maybe years, working hard, day and night to get it out there into the wide world. 
Then there inevitably comes a moment of truth. A shining beacon that perhaps drops through your letterbox or pings into your inbox; a visual, tangible copy of your pride and joy and literary masterpiece.
A proof of your book has arrived.

Until now, the masterpiece you’ve been creating has existed only in your memory, imagination and on your PC (or Mac if you’re like me!). You’ve been editing it to death, checking the grammar, layout and typography on the screen. You have read it dozens and dozens of times. You know it inside out. No one knows it better than you do.
And now you see the book for the first time, whether it be digitally or as a paperback - you get to hold it in your hands. There’s no denying it is a magical moment. Akin to the birth of a child (no, really!). These characters are your children. You have raised them, nurtured them and now must let them go. You have carried them for many, many months and have released them from your body (albeit mentally and with less screaming and crying and begging for death like my eldest son’s Mum). 
You’re on the edge of publication. You open it at a random page or quickly flick through it as a Kindle version. It is beautiful, a marvel to behold. It couldn’t be any more perfect. 

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy (though this myth is contentious), it doesn’t matter what order the letters are in the word are, only that the first and last letter are in the right place. The remainder can be a total mess and you can still read it, no problem. This is because the human mind doesn’t read every, single letter but the word as a whole.

      Interlude break 

   …a marvel to behold. It couldn’t be any more perfect.

        And then you see it. The little, sneaky, horrible, insidious disturbance to your precious. 

        There is a typo.

And at that moment, that precise moment, you realise that you should have hired a professional proof-reader to review your work.

It is devastating. Take my word for it. I was so excited about my debut novel that I thought having read it a million times myself and had others read it, everything had been spotted.

If you remember nothing else or take nothing away from this, always remember you CANNOT proof your own work. 

No matter how much they cry, no matter how much they beg, never, never feed them… oh, hang on. That’s Gremlins.

What I meant to say was, no matter how confident you are that your eyes alone will capture everything that may be wrong in your book, trust me, you won’t and can’t.

The big publishers may have a book proofed three or four times (and even then, you will spot typos in mainstream books. Remember the ‘going for thousands of pounds’ copy of Harry Potter?) before it is released.

I know it can be expensive and take time, but it must be done and never avoided.

I felt I had let down so many supporters, readers and myself by not having my first book professionally proofread. I think the only reason I got a pass more often than not is that I wrote an okay book with an okay storyline.

I have now corrected all those errors after 5 years and it is finally the book readers deserve. But I was so annoyed with myself or letting so many people down.

The upshot of this diatribe is proofing your book by a professional is an absolute must.

It can be expensive, I agree. But it is totally worth it and so important. Readers may be patient and overlook the odd missing comma or speech marks, but anything that is enough to pull them out of the story won’t be forgiven so easily. 

There will be links to some fantastic, amazing and proof-readers available on the BNBS website soon, but for now, you could check out – 

There are also many fantastic proofreaders on social media who will be willing to help you with your manuscript. 
One Miss Siobhan Jones has been used with great success for us before, but there are so many others you can look out for.

The point is, find someone to read your book. Someone who is a professional and can give you the assurance that you need to know your manuscript is as good as practicably possible. 

Thank you fro listening and ayn spelling mistkases are my onw.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Publishing? Straightforward, right?

When Kelly and I became the proud and humbled owners of BNBS, we had two things on our minds.

  1. Can we do enough with Murielle's company to make her proud?
  2. Publishing can't be that complicated, can it?
Number 1 I'll come back around to. Number 2? Well, let's just say it was an eye-opener!

As a reader and more recently, an author, I never once really gave much thought to how books are published. Certainly, when I was lucky enough to become a published writer, I honestly thought that you could literally do it all yourself (I know self-publishing is doing it yourself, but I'm talking about the typesetting, proofing etc), despite not really knowing what was actually involved.

Not long after everything had been signed, sealed and delivered, we had the opportunity to publish our first book. We would have preferred to have a few months breaking in time rather than a couple of weeks, but gift horse and all that, we thought, 'Bah, how hard can it be?'

Never be so cocky that you think those words are ever appropriate!!!

So, you have a book and are given a set release date for a book launch which is only three weeks away. You realise you need the manuscript proofread, but don't really know anyone as you never used one before (I'll come back to that too!). In a panic, I'm contacting everyone I can find on Facebook to ask if they can proofread a book in about three days (realistically, I now know that is crazy talk, but remember, naive about publishing).

Understandably, everyone I asked said they couldn't for a variety of appropriate reasons. I was lucky enough be given the name of an amazing proofreader who, for an excellent price, would be willing to take up the challenge.

Three days later, it was complete and spot on (to this day, I have never, nor has anyone ever, pointed out a typo or editing/pacing issue so I'll stand by that statement!).

I'm back to reassuring Kelly that it's easy. How hard can it be?

Covers - the original cover was excellent, but due to the fall through of the original publishers, we couldn't use the same cover. A friend of the author's found someone who could do 'the same, but different'; all I had to do was provide him with the trim and spine size.

The what now?

My first foray into actual publishing and someone may as well have spoken Greek to me. What the (insert Malcolm Tucker-esque expletive) was trim size. And how the hell was I supposed to know the size of the spine? 

How could I possibly work that out? 

How did anyone work that out?

Lesson one - many great websites and printers tell you the spine size after you tell them the number of pages in the book (I also learnt that it doesn't mean Word pages, but PDF!). 


Only then I'm told it has to be divisible by two.


"It has to be divisible by two."

"Oh, and the book has to start with an even number."

"Have you ever been beaten repeatedly about the face and neck?" I ask the un-named individual.

I am told he poops me not and that he only speaks the truth. 

I sit there that evening, working out with my hands which page is the odd and even one without page numbers for the first chapter to be on the right-hand side of the book. My hand flips back and forth so quickly, I actually lower the temperature of the room with the draft. 

So, all worked out. Added a page with a promotion on it, shifted a page along and all is well.

Trim size. "How big is the book?"

"Book size. Paperback size."

"They aren't all the same size?"

"I hate you so much right now," in the words of Kelis.

"Seriously, is it S6, B5, A4?"


"Is it wanted the same size as this book?" (mentions other publication)

"YES!! That's the one, that's it. Paperback size."

"Rightttt, whatever. Anyway, that's S6 - 125 x 195mm."


So, I now have the cover (trim!!!) size and the spine size. Sorted.

"Does it need bleed?"

"I hate you... what the (Malcolm Tucker expletive) is bleed?"

"The area that will be cut off during the printing process. Don't have anything text or illustrations wise to close to the edge of the cover or you will lose it."  

"Would you like to know what you are going to lose shortly?"

Little bit of Googling and I have it all sorted. Nothing in the 'bleed' area.

Off to print!!! 

"Have you had it typeset?"


"Typeset? A typesetter will check for a selection of appropriate fonts in different sizes and styles, look at paragraph and character styles, consider hyphenation, character spacing (kerning) and line spacing (leading), allow for fine adjustments to how much space an amount of text actually fills; and look for widows and orphans."

"Your wife is about to become a widow and your children orphans... can't I just do it?"


"Erm, no. Here is a guy."

Mucho questions and a few days later, sorted.

Off to print!!

"Have you had it converted for an e-book?"

"What now? The Kindle automatically does that, right?"

"Nope. Someone or software has to do it."

Secret phone call - "Hi. I've heard you do... favours for people? I have someone I want taken out.
Money, I'll sell my soul, just make it painful."

Company contacted - book converted (expensive before we knew better!). Sorted.

Off to print?

"They go to Poland, so it'll take about two weeks."

The book launch is in six days.

Secret phone call - "Hi. We spoke the other day. That job? Bump the deadline forward. I want them
taken out... tonight!"

Mucho begging and pleading to the printers about our complete newbie-ness and he says he will have
his staff work overnight to have them all printed (guilt level up, loading now).

Long story short... well, not that short, but in the end, books arrived and the book launch was a great
success. The author is very happy with his books. 

Kelly and I then spent the next year learning as much as we could about running a publishing house -
CYMK, AMS, Facebook ads, social media in general, warehouse providers, press releases, cover 
reveals, blogging, library deposits, book depositories, ISBN's, keywords, reviewing... everything we
could and more.

We inherited many amazing authors with Live It and BNBS; we have, sadly, lost a few. Some didn't 
agree with the direction we wished to take, others had perhaps unrealistic expectations (we are not one
of the big 6. We work hard to make you money, but cannot and never promise a number one bestselling 
book in Waterstones or thousands of book sales... one day though Rodders. One day...)

But after learning all we could that first year (and me, fortunately, finding lots of time on my hands!!!
(That's a completely different and fascinating story that will one day you will be able to be read 
about!!), this year we have seen the fruits of our labour (cliche) beginning to pay off.

One of the first things we ever promised was that we would do our best, always, to do all we could for
our authors, historic and new. We have so many fantastic books yet to come and promotions to 
highlight all the great books which have gone before. 

Big things are coming and I don't just mean Project Dinosaur or the new Jurassic World movie. 

Wishing you a lovely evening reading, writing and dreaming.


David and Kelly 

Monday, 5 February 2018

An amazing lady who transcended politics and wrote about what was real then, but only gaining recognition now

On the 22nd January 2018, Ursula K Le Guin passed away.

Her name may not be overly familiar, but in her time as a novelist she wrote some amazing books and short stories but, more importantly, was addressing the subject of gender, neutrality and ideologies through the accessible genre of science fiction.

Unable to describe her world and beliefs better, I shall let the lady herself do the talking and the article below provide a little more insight. 

*article courtesy of Ryan Mark*

Monday, 22 January 2018

Writing tips - A blog about writing a blog!

A blog is a great way to promote your book, network, engage with readers and stay in touch with topical issues that relate to your book’s subject matter. There are some amazing bloggers and blogs alike out there, without which many authors would not have had the success they have acheived. They are a fundemental element of promoting yourself and your books but more than that, they are an excellent way to connect with readers who will become fans and fans who will ultimately become friends.
Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of blogging? 
Worry not - it’s fairly straightforward to be a blogger. Some blogs look really professional and have an extensive following, but don’t be put off. All bloggers all started from scratch. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be posting in no time.

Five Things to Think About Before Starting a Blog

·      What will you blog about?
o   Think through what you want to blog about. Blogs first started out as online diaries - the word ‘blog’ comes from ‘web log’ – which was a record of the blogger’s life. Plenty of people still use their blogs as online diaries, but they can be more focused on a topic or broad area of interest too, anything from politics to parenthood – obviously its best that your blog relates to your book as the point of it is to reach out to potential readers. But it’s not all work, work, work. If fact, it’s better if you stay away from relentless self-promotion and engage your audience on a more natural, informal level. Before you get started, decide if your blog will be a place for you to share your life, or a place for exploring a particular topic.

·      Who are your readers?
o   Consider what kind of readers you want to attract. You can use your blog as a personal diary or to swap stories with people you know but you should also be aiming to attract new readers, who will hopefully like your writing and want to buy your book. Whatever you’re blogging about, it’s a good idea to define your audience and write for a particular group of readers. This will help you set the tone of your blog – which should be similar to the tone of your book.

·      How often will you post?
o   Some writers get hooked on blogging and it takes over their lives. Others set up a blog and forget all about it. So, it’s a good idea to decide on exactly how often you’re going to post. It might be helpful to set yourself a deadline for each post. Ideally, you should aim to update your blog at least once a week – more during your Britain’s Next Bestseller campaign and in the run up to publication – with posts that are interesting and engaging to your potential readers. Don’t worry – these posts shouldn’t all be about you – but more about that later.

·      What are you blogging about?
o   The main purpose of your blog is to generate interest in your book. With that in mind, you can promote yourself and your book by talking about it, up-dating readers on progress and even featuring extracts to wet their appetite. But the blog shouldn’t just be about self-promotion. Readers are likely to be turned off if your blog reads like one long sales pitch.
o   With that in mind, think about how you can engage with your readers and make your blog a must-read for them. What do readers get out of it? You can generate interest and keep your blog ‘current’ by responding with your take on topical events or sharing relevant information that your readers might find interesting. You can also link and respond to other writers and bloggers who are writing about similar subjects, which might attract their readers to your blog. Don’t look at other writers as ‘competition’, look at them as potential reviewers who can endorse your writing and share their readership.

o   And remember, a blog is your public, online imprint, so whilst it’s ok to be informal, it’s wise to keep the content accurate and up-to-date.

·      Are you blogging as yourself?
o   Think about how much information about yourself you want to share with the world – because anything you put online can be Googled. It’s a good idea to write down a list of anything you want to keep private to help you along the way. It might be a good idea to decide in advance anything in particular (where you work, for instance) you’d like to keep private. If your posts are particularly personal, embarrassing or controversial then you might prefer to hide behind an alter-ego – perhaps you could write the blog from the point of view of the main character in your book. Or have an alter-ego occasionally ‘guest post’ on subjects you don’t want to put your real name too.

The Next Steps

Here are a few simple things that you can do right away to get you started…

·      Read some blogs which are in a similar genre to yours and think about what you like and don’t like about them. Need help in finding similar bloggers? Take a look at:

·    Start commenting on other bloggers’ posts and following blogs you like. Try to make intelligent comments that demonstrate your interest and expertise on the subject. Or empathise with the blogger if that’s more appropriate. It’s OK not to agree with everything the blogger says, but don’t be argumentative or confrontational for the sake of it. Your hope is that these bloggers and their readers will start following you too!

·       Create a title for your blog which is short and memorable (three words-ish). Remember, a title should be catchy - it shouldn’t just be a sentence describing your blog.

·        Pick a platform; decide which blog tool you are going to use - Blogger and WordPress are the two we recommend, but you could try Tumblr or TypePad... You can get lots of help from each of the blogging sites to help you get started. If you would like to set your blog up using WordPress or Blogger then you we have a quick ‘how-to’ guide below…

Setting Up a Blog on WordPress

So you’ve read our tips on how to start a blog and you’re ready to take the plunge…

·      The first thing you need to decide on is your Blog Address or URL. Where possible, this should be the same as your blog’s title and related to your book title.
·      After this you will receive an email confirming your registration and asking you to activate your blog.
·      The next thing to do is choose a starter theme. You can change this at any point so just choose something you want to try out, or you can stick to the default theme. And you’ve created a new blog!
·      You will then be logged into the Dashboard. From here you can write new posts and control your blog’s settings.
·      Choose what information will be displayed publicly on your profile such as your name, picture and About Me.
·      Manage the appearance of your blog with Themes, Widgets, Menus and more.
·      And, of course, write a post: write a title and add some text. Your first post should be a bit of an introduction about yourself and the blog and should give an indication as to what you’re going to write about.
·      Once you’ve settled in, you can get creative with the layout, add images and links and include labels. You can preview the post to see what it will look like on the page. Once you are happy with it – hit publish! Happy blogging!

Setting up a Blog on Blogger

·      If you have a Google account, log in. If you don’t, you’ll need to create a Google account to use Blogger, or create a limited Blogger profile.
·      Choose your blog’s title and the web address. Try to make your blog title relate to your book and make the web address as similar as possible - this will make it easier for people to find your blog.
·      Now it’s time to choose what your blog will look like. You can change this at any point, so just choose something you want to try out. Select a layout template. And you’ve created a new blog!
·      You will then come to a webpage called your Dashboard. This is where you can edit your settings and the layout of your blog, change the template, view page stats and comments, and, of course, write a post!
·      To write a post, select the pencil icon at the top of the page or the New Post button on the left hand side and a textbox will come up. This is your new post, and it’s time to start writing. Write a title and type some text in. Your first post should be a little bit of an introduction to yourself and the blog and give an indication as to what you’re going to write about. If you like, you can get creative with the layout, add images and links and include labels. You can preview the post and see what it will look like on the page.
·      When you are ready, hit ‘Publish’ and you’ll return to the Dashboard. Congratulations! You’ve just set up your new blog! Happy blogging!
     Don’t forget to add your Facebook and Twitter details to your blog so readers can click ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ you. You can add ‘gadgets’ to your blog which enable readers to do this there and then.

Blogging for Improvers

Once you are up and blogging, speak to us about promoting your posts by joining linky, bloghops, blog carnivals and using Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Keywords, Google Keyword, metatags, hyperlinks and pictures. Once you’ve got most of the content for your blog written, it’s time to start thinking about adding those little extras to help to make your entry dynamic and engaging for your reader, including video clips, polls or quizzes, podcast interviews, relevant articles or musical playlists. 

And that's pretty much it. So, off you go... spread the word of your awesomeness and make some fantastic friends in the meantime. (I'm talking about you, Muffin, Sarah, Emma and Gordon!)

Useful Links


*sections contributed to by Murielle Maupoint*