From Layout to Proof Copy: Taking a Trip Around the “Reading Circle”

In my last post I talked about the thrill of getting my first proof copy. But getting a proof copy didn’t mean my book was perfect by any means. There was still so much more editing to do. Let me take you through the steps…

1. Read through proof copy many times.

When I read my book to myself, I notice some of the bigger errors like repetitive words or phrases or illustrations that don’t quite match the story. But after awhile, I get too comfortable reading the story to myself. I begin to expect exactly what’s coming next at the turn of each page.

2. Read aloud to self.

Reading it out loud helps me notice wording that doesn’t sound right or that doesn’t flow together smoothly. It sounds differently in my head than when I hear myself read it aloud. After fixing those words and phrases that don’t sound right when reading aloud to myself, I move on to reading the book to someone else.

3. Read aloud to someone else.

Reading the book to someone else is helpful because it’s a fresh set of ears hearing the story for the first time. When they ask questions about the story, it gives me an idea of what details to add, take out, or clarify. Since my book is for children, it was fun to test it out on my little brother.

4. Listen to someone read it aloud.

Now I have people read my book aloud to me. When they stumble on words and phrases, I hear where I can simplify my story. Also, if they have questions about an illustration, I know I need to make a change.

5. Give proof copies to others to read through on their own.

The last step, which can be the hardest step, is giving the proof copy to someone else to read on their own without me. Some of the feedback I receive requires me to redo illustrations or add more to the story or even take out parts of the book that I really like.

6. Be prepared for honest feedback.

Accepting the feedback that people give and making the changes my book needs really ends up being a positive thing. I know after taking different advice, my story ended up being more enjoyable to read.

7. During all of these steps, don’t be afraid to mark up the pages of your pretty proof copy.

Mark it up!
Mark it up!

At first it’s hard to make a mark on the proof copy because it’s so exciting seeing the “finished” product. We found it’s just too confusing keeping track of the list of edits, so we got a pen and started reading through the book. Any mistake with wording would get crossed out and marked up. The mistakes found in the illustrations were circled. In some cases, I had to make another illustration or fix the original. As we made the corrections on the original digital document, we would mark that place in the proof copy with a gold star… because who doesn’t feel motivated with gold stars!

Little did I know, but I would soon cut out a whole third of my book! You see, the thing I learned about writing picture books is it’s better to take out the obvious description and let the illustrations do the talking.

When I was satisfied with how it looked, it was time to order another proof copy… and repeat the steps. Yippee.

Next post I will talk about the origins of my book and how the story came to be. This is where I will start sharing the more personal side to my story. I hope you come back!

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Read my previous posts if you want to catch up on the whole story!

  1. How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Choose the Right Tools
  2. How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Set Clear Goals and Get to Work
  3. How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Organize All Those Thoughts
  4. From Layout to Proof Copy: Designing and Editing my Children’s Book

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