I just received my first proof copy of I.Am.Maine. The knock of the UPS man made me jump out of my seat. I was excited to touch the book I had been slaving over for months. As I tore away the wrapping paper, it was glorious. It was the culmination of hours spent writing, editing and adjusting words. It was the pinnacle of my dedication to my craft. It was written by “eremy Flagg?”

I have spent plenty of time editing this book. I have rewritten phrases, sentences and even entire chapters. I have learned more about the English language in the past few months than I think I care to understand. When I was done with this book, I let it rest so I could regroup and edit again. I can recite large portions of this book having read it so many times.

It’s still not perfect, and it never will be until I have the physical copy in my hand. As a writer, I know that reading in context can help bring about revelations about poor word choices. As a graphic designer, I know each font, picture and spacing can be critical in aiding your reader along in their journey. This end user mentality requires you have a product in your hand similar to your reader so you can experience this as they do. This requires a proof copy of your book.

The things I’ve noticed in print I didn’t on screen:

  1. Photos translating from color to black and white need to be experienced in the actual book. Even color to color needs to make sure the resolution turns out a photo you’re happy with. The screen will never properly predict these changes as they’re based on the physical printing process.
  2. Margins never look as good as they do on the screen. Make sure paragraph indents don’t indent too far and that the gutter is given much-needed attention. Respect the safe zone of your page, things too close to the edge can be trimmed. Remember the rule: Close enough is not good enough, make it look intentional.
  3. Fonts are always beautiful on screen, but are they legible on the page? Will they maintain the same crisp quality you love so much on your screen? (Garamond is our friend.)
    White type on a black background can be a hazardous pain in the butt. With the black ink ever so slightly bleeding into the white of the letter, it can be difficult to see. Some printers are better than others as are some fonts versus others.
  4. Unless you’ve become adept at calibrating your monitor, an inch doesn’t always measure an inch. Measurements on screen are relative, and often not a true representation. Once you open the physical copy, it’s obvious that not all of your measurements turned out quite the way you wanted.
  5. I have started pre-orders for my book, and I want to say I’m in a rush to have this product in the hands of my readers. The realization is, if I rush through this and put it into their hands today, it will not be the final product I want it to be. I will not be proud to have this book under my belt and done. Instead, I will take my time, read it through, make my notes, make adjustments and order a final proof copy (I hope final) and do one last round of checks.

As the self-published market is a flood of books written by anybody with a computer, it is importance to remember the goal set for in writing. Whatever that goal, whether it be fame or fortune, it requires the final product to be solid. Take a moment, make your readers happy, edit your physical copy.