Three types of readers are key to preparing your novel for publication. These readers become part of the process after you have made all your revisions.
Their purpose is to be sure your final product doesn't contain errors that will distract from the story.
Who are they?
- Continuity readers
- Subject matter experts
Consistency Is Key
A continuity reader makes sure that your writing is consistent. You ask this person, ideally someone who has not read any previous drafts of your book, to read it solely for this reason.
Some examples of consistency errors:
- a character walking into a hospital and out of a train station
- the same house having a ground level front door in one scene and a steep flight of steps to the front door in another
- the same character being called by completely different names (this error happens to me because I sometimes use placeholder names during early drafts, change them later, and slip back into using an original name now and again during a rewrite)
- changes in weather or time of day without explanation
You don't need someone with specialized expertise or editing experience to be a continuity reader. Just someone who will keep an eye out for anything that doesn't make sense.
Subject Matter Expert
As you planned and drafted your novel you should have been researching any areas that required understanding certain subjects.
For instance, the second book in my Q.C. Davis mystery series included a missing college student who may have let her student visa lapse.
I checked various online sources to make sure I understood enough about immigration requirements to be accurate.
Before you hit publish, though, you should have someone who knows key areas check to be sure that while rewriting you didn't make changes that mistakenly introduced errors.
Not all subject matter experts need to be professionals in the field. One of my friends is a golfer who tracks sunrises, sunsets, and weather to ensure that he can golf as often as possible around his work schedule.
He checked the dates and times I listed above each scene in my latest mystery novel to be sure that I didn't refer to twilight an hour later or earlier than it should be or set a scene after dark at a time when the sun would barely have begun setting.
Novels are long. It's hard to catch every error in 60,000-100,000 words.
So whether or not you've had your novel copy edited or proofread by a professional, it's worth asking a friend or fan with a good eye for detail to proofread once more.
I find the best people for this task are people who simply enjoy reading novels and catching mistakes rather than English majors or people who do nonfiction writing or editing.
That's because novels generally are written in a more conversational fashion. (That's particularly so for my current series because it's in first person.)
Someone who wants every sentence to be complete or grammatically correct will likely give you back a lot of changes you'll need to spend time reviewing but that you won't ultimately use.
It may seem like it would be difficult to find people to do this. But if you ask around among friends and fans you will likely find readers who love getting an advance look at new work and who really enjoy proofreading.
You should also ask the other two types of readers above to let you know if they happen to spot a typo, though you're not asking them to read for that purpose.
That's all for this Friday. Until next week —