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I'm writing (to self-publish) a technical book aimed for computer-literate people with no technical background (but who want to get into the field).

In the beginning, I found myself re-writing certain sections.

Now the look and feel is looking more consistent, but as I go along writing the book I find more things that need improvement.

So far I wrote brief introduction, followed by three small chapters. Right now I am about to finish the first big (100 pages) chapter.

Should I stop and proof-read what I have before I proceed or Should I plough through entire book and then proof-read

Thanks!

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Probably not the answer you were hoping to read, but I'd proof read what I had and proof read the whole book.

Looking at the first big chapter on its own will let you concentrate on detail, looking at the whole book will check whether there's a consistent "feel".

As for what you should do now, I'd proof read the chapter.

  • In other words, proof-read now (after done with this big chapter) and proof read later (after completing 1st draft of book)? – Rhonda Sep 20 '17 at 12:25
  • Yes. That's what I'm thinking. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Sep 20 '17 at 14:29
  • Sorry - pressed "Return" too quickly. You could read the chapter now in isolation from the rest of the book (which would make more sense with later chapters), or you could see how it fits with the stuff before if there's not too much of that. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Sep 20 '17 at 14:32
  • This is good point. I have lot more to write so I'll probably go over what I have before continuing. – Rhonda Sep 20 '17 at 14:42
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First, let's be clear on terms. Proofreading is going through a manuscript looking for mechanical errors: missing punctuation, misspelled words, grammatical errors, etc. If you are rewriting sections, that is editing, not proofreading.

Proofreading is generally the last step in the preparation of a manuscript. There is not a lot of point in proofreading early because you may be wasting effort on proofing material that is going to be edited out, and any editing that you do later could introduce new mechanical errors that you would then have to proofread for.

Of course, you should fix any mechanical errors you see while you are editing.

As to whether you should edit your work before you have a complete draft, styles and opinions differ on that, and you should be able to find several questions here that already deal with different aspects of that question.

  • This is very thorough explanation! – Rhonda Sep 20 '17 at 12:24
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Your main task is to write, because without the writing, there will be no book. So for me, I generally write as long as I am feeling inspired, and rewrite, proof and edit mainly when I am at a standstill in my writing. This way I don't lose forward momentum when I have it. To put it another way, it makes for more efficiency, because I only "switch gears" when already stopped (so to speak). I've found that when I'm blocked, or not moving forward as fast, it's often because my overall sense of the book has subtly shifted, and switching to rewriting at those points can help me get back on track.

Of course, if you put off rewriting too long, you might end up writing a great deal of material that you don't end up using. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can still inform the material that actually makes it to the page. For you, at this particular point, if you do feel an actual need (or desire) to rewrite, I would do it, but if not, I would push on ahead.

In terms of actual proof-reading, you'll want to make sure your book is impeccable before publishing. Unless you are an excellent proof-reader, you'll probably want to hire someone to do it for you, as it is very difficult to proof your own copy (although modern tools help).

  • Thank you so much. I'm writing a technical book for non-technical people who want to get into the IT field. 100+ pages after writing I felt there were inconsistencies in the book. Now it turns out the screenshot proportions were inconsistent and it was making writing cumbersome. I know as I new learner to anything I value consistency in the document, even for illustrations. Your answer really helps! – Rhonda Sep 20 '17 at 16:23

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