Did you show the cashier in the checkout line the coupon on your phone? Did you hold your phone up to the flight attendant to show her your boarding pass? Even a pig on a popular commercial is handing a police officer his phone to show him his insurance card.
So in a digital world, why print?
As a writer, print is not dead. There are several times when print is very important, especially during the editing process.
A manuscript passes through many rounds of editing before it ever reaches an external eye such as those of my beta readers. But with several rounds of editing, piled on top of already knowing the story as I was the one who wrote it, mistakes can be missed if the manuscript is continuously edited in the same medium: digital.
First round: the manuscript is edited directly in Scrivener. I read it on the screen in the writing software for any large glitches and for tweaking scenes, plot, character development, etc.
Second round: the manuscript goes off to a professional editor who provides feedback on the manuscript.
Third round: the manuscript is then once again edited in Scrivener. The suggestions of the editor are put directly into the manuscript in the writing software.
Fourth round: Print. This is a very important step. By this point, I have read, re-read, and re-read again the manuscript in a digital format. My eyes are trained to see the story in a certain shape on the screen. By printing the manuscript, my eyes are forced to see the letters, words, paragraphs in a different shape. This allows my eye to see the manuscript in a fresh light and catch any mistakes that were missed in previous rounds of editing. I like to call this round my grammar check. What I’m really looking for in this round are all the tricky spelling, comma, period, semi-colon mistakes that are often missed.
And another tip: print it on paper that is not white. The contrasting color makes it easier to spot mistakes. Again, change the medium in which you are editing the manuscript.
Fifth round: This is a formatting check. After putting in all the edits from the fourth round, I extract the file from Scrivener in a mobi file format and read the manuscript on my Kindle. In this round, I’m checking for any glitches in the file structure of the mobi. This includes the table of contents not working, copyright page adjustments, the cover showing up, and any unknown spaces that linger between sentences.
Sixth round: Beta readers. Beta readers are important. Don’t skip this step. They’ll tell you when the story isn’t right.
Seventh round: After getting the feedback from beta readers, I do one more read through on a different device, Nook or iPad, to make sure the file is good.
Then and only then, do I get ready to upload it and self-publish the manuscript through the various outlets.
Seven is a good number, and when it includes a printing step, I think it’s even better. What are some of your editing tips?