Champagne Universe

A.K. Brown

Author Proofing the Paperback

When all the writing is done, and your first novel is in your hot little hands. Checking the authors copy from the printer before it’s gone to the press is an absolute must. Listed below are some areas which I check to verify that the paperback printed version is what I expect.

When I started to proof my own book I realised how complex the process is. As much as one would like to just go ahead, I think it prudent to check at least basic aspects of the paperback book.

I have broken the checking up into several categories:

  • general – which includes the ISBN, paper, style, physical size of the book
  • front cover
  • spine of the book
  • back cover
  • barcode
  • front matter
  • book text
  • back matter
  • upside down

Now at first glance this seems like an awful lot of different things to check, however, many of these checks are a quick yes no answer.

Each of the categories above may have subcategories of check, for example, the front cover includes the title, author name, series name, book number…

You may not need to check all the subcategories, I leave that to your discretion.

I would suggest a simple code to track your checks with a comment for the errors. Some books may need to be fixed and sent back to the publisher for another author proofing copy.  It would be then possible to verify that the comments on your first test can be checked against a new author copy from the publisher.

I would also suggest you purchase to author copies, to verify that any error you find within the first copy is either a one-off or a more significant problem. For example the text placed on the even pages is slightly lower than the text on the on pages. There are tolerances for this, however if there easily visible I would suggest you contact the publisher. You could then verify with the publisher whether it’s a one-off printing error or in both author copies.

The list below is by no means the full list of checks to be made. I haven’t done any checks on textbooks, picture books or children’s books. So if you have any thoughts i’d be glad to add it to the list below.

I would expect Non-fiction books would require a lot of table of contents checks, formatting of bullets and picture.

Y = ok, N=kind of ok but not enough to stop printing, R= send back and fix.

Author Proof
Test version 1
ISBN paperback Correct ISBN is inside the book and on Bar Code Y
Paper cream or white Y
Style Matt or gloss
Size dimensions of the book are correct, e.g. 6′ x 9′ Y
Front Cover
Title N
Series Y
author name Y
book number
image correct
image blurry
overall design Moon on image is slightly oval
trimmed edges ok ‘t’ on Jumpstart is close to edge
Spine of book
author name
book number
logo of publisher clear and present.
Back Cover
Back text
back image
image blurry
logo of publisher clear and present.
Barcode make a visual eyeball scan that there is a bar code
Bar code clear R
Bars visible
Number equivalent of bars visible
R.R.P is visible (opt. assuming you included it)
Placement on back cover correct.
ISBN paperback is the same number on your ISBN
Front Matter
small title
blank pages
main title
publisher and copyright
dedication / acknowledgements
chapter one title font, placement, spacing, size.
Sample check other chapters
Book Text
placement of text on both pages consistent
font text consistent
font text italics
chapter headings
chapter consistent
scene breaks
page breaks
quote marks
start text
end text
line spacing even and consistent
header book name
header author
page numbers
paragraph indents
sub headings
alignment is correct
Back Matter
last text of book (check page number is correct, no missing pages)
links valid
about the author
other books
Upside down check Take a look at the book upside down. Artist use this technique to check the proportions of their images.

Points of View, Movies vs Paperbacks

Setting the point of view of how a story is written or played in the movies, is critical to the effectiveness of the book or movie. Movies tend to jump from one scene to the next with such rapidity that would give any novel writer whiplash.  Should book writing shift their style to reflect the movies or vice versa? Can today’s book reader handle quicker shifts in the point of view.

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