The case for proof reading?

Proof reading is an attempt to over come the  Pareto principle  that is the “law” that says 80% of your errors will get picked up by your word processor but 20% wont. It also means that while 80% of the changes are correct 20% are actually new errors.

Confused? I am ! So on to the practicalities of why proof read and why it might not be a good idea.

It is interesting to read some of the comments turning up on the Amazon Reviews of my stories. Quite a few refer to the need for proof reading. I accept that my spelling is appalling and my finger (yes a one-digit typist) is often over taken by my imagination and words get missed.

The story that used to attract the most comments
The story that used to attract the most comments

Now here is the rub, if Word fails to point out a mistake, how am I supposed to spot that I have made one?

This is a comment from a review, it is of another authors work but the same person review one of my books.

“I have read many hundreds of books (fiction and non-fiction and mostly not erotic) and the vast majority of them were grammar and punctuation perfect. So I think it’s a pity that erotic book authors don’t take more care because I believe it must have an adverse effect on their sales.”

This is where we, in my opinion – feel free to decry me, hit the big problem.

As far as I am aware none of the authors of naturist fiction (#naturistfiction) are actually making a living out of their naturist fiction. It is a part-time endeavour even a hobby. I think most of us write for our own enjoyment initially then decide to share it. Something that has become possible via Amazon’s KDP, Goodreads and Smashwords.

So, to proof reading. looking for mistakes in an existing piece of writing has to be done by a new set of eyes. Remember Pareto is watching you 20% of your corrections will be extra errors! It takes a lot of effort to carefully read ,, word by word,line by line looking for mistakes rather than enjoying the story. I am lucky I had a volunteer for the Uncovered Policeman Abroad and my wife is a “finisher-completer” and had the time to do the Uncovered Policeman; In and Out of the Blues. Otherwise you pay a specialist. This is great if you have a publisher. They will deduct the cost of proofing, editing or buying you a cup of coffee while arguing about artistic integrity of a phrase, out of your advance on the copies they expect you to sell.

Well, I am planning a party to which you are all invited when the first of my stories sells its 500th unit. (Bring your own bottle, I’ll provide the pork scratchings.) If I had paid for proof reading by a professional I would not be able to afford the pork scratchings until I had sold 700 books and what sort of party would that be? Hey we are having a really big party, after all you are only 47 years old once … nope it doesn’t work.

“OK Ted, do you have a solution?” You ask.

Well, sort of. Most of the #naturistfiction authors (I’m a story teller not an author by the way) seem to be approachable. It is rare not to find an e-mail address in the blurb around the story. Review the story, the writing style and how you felt about the reading experience. Then if you have found specific errors send the writer a nice e-mail pointing out the errors. I am sure most will change the manuscript to correct these mistakes. One of the big joys of these electronic publications is that they can be changed almost daily unlike a printed book.

One word of warning never, never try to correct a plot line! You may discuss why the author chose that path but don’t correct the plot if you want to live long enough to come to the 500th Book Party.