The importance of proofreading

While my newest novel is out there in the beta readers’ hands I’m taking this time to proofread it from back to front. I should finish this task today. So far I’ve found an instance where it should have said “if” and it said “it,” a missing quotation mark and period, my misuse of two words (beveled and venal) that have now been corrected, and a couple more errors I’ve already forgotten about. I had already proofread it from front to back before I ever turned it loose. I don’t remember what mistakes I found originally.


Beta reader number one found at least three errors. I expect that beta reader number two will find some as well.  A very long time ago Western writer John S. McCord (The Baynes Clan series) told me (and a room full of other writers) that one of the most important editing processes a writer could do was to read your work out loud to yourself. I do that first thing and my cat hates me. Someone else gave the advice to read and proof your work from back to front, thereby cutting yourself off from the plot. If I was capable of doing it word by word backwards, I would. But I can’t. So far I’ve only been able to proof page by page. Paragraph by paragraph would be better, and it may come to that before I let THE COWBOY’S BABY GOES TO HEAVEN publish.


My most difficult problem with proofreading has been taming my impulse to copy edit as I read. There has to come a time when it’s good enough. Let it go. Otherwise you will switch words, rework sentences, change plot and anything else you can do to avoid finishing and you’ll succeed. The novel will never be complete. Proofreading is looking for spelling errors, typos, grammar mistakes, spacing errors and the such; by the time you get to proofreading you should have a finished product. Don’t fiddle with it anymore.



THE COWBOY’S BABY GOES TO HEAVEN will have the input of two more beta readers before it’s done. Then Streetlight Graphics and Glendon Haddix will do their magic and create a wonderful cover and clean formatting for it, and then off we go. I can’t wait to see this one in print (and e-print). I think it’s better than THE COWBOY’S BABY, and I’m still really proud of that one.


Photos by Roxanne Rix.

My books can be found at

as well as at Barnes & Noble online for Nook readers and Smashwords for every other device. And at BookPeople in Austin, Texas, Logos and Buffalo Clover in Lockhart, Texas.







WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  Badwater by Toni Dwiggins.  Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James.

2 thoughts on “The importance of proofreading

  1. I, too, read the book out loud to catch mistakes. That’s my final step before I submit. I can’t get my head around reading it from back to front, but if it works for you then GREAT!

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