Welcome to episode 21 of Publish Your Purpose: An Author’s Journey.

In this episode we cover –

  • PDF – Read it, read it again, Now read it again.
  • Celebrate the win – “Pause to reflect”. You did it!
  • Going in again to re-read “air plane” mode
  • Lock it down – no more time for bright ideas
  • Verb choice
  • The Proof Book arrives – special day
  • Read it again, line by line report
  • Authors Academy is roadmap and guide
  • Ownership and Responsibility – Don’t be the weakest link
  • Advance reader teams – proofing and errors

The Publish Your Purpose Podcast: An Author’s Journey features the unique relationship between an author and their publisher. This podcast follows author, Mark David Gibson, through the publishing process of his memoir “Served in Silence.” Alongside him you’ll hear from Publish Your Purpose Press Founder and CEO, Jenn T. Grace, as she navigates Mark through this journey. This authentic, empathetic, and at times comedic duo will take you on the journey from having an idea in your head to holding a book in your hands. You’ll go through all of the emotional ups and downs with Mark as this podcast covers his experience in real time. You’ll learn how to be better prepared when you set out to write your story. Whether you are writing a memoir or any non-fiction where a piece of your story is shared, you’ll be better equipped for success after having listened to this show.

Jenn and Mark have volunteered and donated their time. If you’d like to support the show on Patreon you can do so for just a couple of dollars a month, which is less than a cup of coffee! Your contribution will help with the hosting and transcription of the show. Support us on Patreon at Patreon.com/PublishYourPurpose.

Music provided in this episode was provided by www.bensound.com.

Read the transcript below or download the PDF by clicking here.

Publish Your Purpose Podcast

Episode 21

Jenn: Today we are going to chat about the proofing process. I feel like I have a lot of conversations with authors. I say “Listen, you’re going to get really either annoyed or frustrated or tired of reading your work over and over and over again.” I’d love to hear from you (and we can talk about what the process is and what your experience has been in that proofing process) because I think that until you get to the layout stage, where it comes back to you, the author, in a pdf with what the book will actually look like when it is printed, before then you are working in a word document. It is back and forth and back and forth, and just back and forth at least ten more times. You think everything’s been caught, but it hasn’t. That’s just the nature of the process. Which is why there is another proofing process when you get it back from layout when it’s in the proofing form. I want to hear from you just on that piece and then we’ll kind of move through the amount of times you’ve had to re-read your own work.

Mark: Yup. I go back to the Author’s Academy. This was really laying the groundwork. It was laying the foundation. You do a really good job in the AUTHOR’S ACADEMY about managing expectations. Some of it, as with life, I glossed over. And some of it I was like “well, that’s helpful information. I’ll go back and look at it later.” That’s what I’ve been able to do. I’ve been able to now go back, when we’re actually at that phase throughout the publication process, I would go back and review it. Now it’s real time advice. Not only was it good advice that I heard, not only was it ‘hey this is some expectation’, but it then became real time advice.

Working with you as the publisher, you do a great job of managing expectations too. You’re like “Okay, Get your vitamin D, get your vitamin C, get whatever you have to get. I need ya. Load up on the bananas. The proofing process is not fun or sexy. It is what it is and you gotta get it done. All of us can relate to the fact that proofing your own stuff is very difficult. All the way back to 8th grade English. You read it 10 times and you still missed something. It holds true today as well. You try your best to get it done. I think that through the AUTHOR’S ACADEMY and the tidbits and the strategy that is outlaid there to help you through the process is very important and influential.

It gets clunky folks. It is now approaching 250 pages. Hang in there. Now is not the time you can hang your over-achiever jacket on the wall for a minute. It’s not going to be perfect the very first go. It’s going to be okay that if you trust in the system and the system that is laid out in the AUTHOR’S ACADEMY or through the publishing process, you’re going to be okay. I’m proof. I’m okay. I’m very pleased with the product. The process in and of itself is pretty grueling but finally necessary.

Jenn: It’s funny that you say that. I just had a friend in town over the last few days, who happens to be one of our published authors, Dina Prodo, and her book is Identity Impact. It launched in late October, early November. I had her, on a whim, join the AUTHOR’S

ACADEMY on Tuesday. I was kinda like “You’re here. You went through the AUTHOR’S ACADEMY. You published your book. There are people here that could really hear your perspective and what you have to say about this. If was funny because she went straight into the fire of the editing process and the proofing process. It was like “this is not for the faint of heart; this is not for the weary.”

Mark: Did they all go running and screaming away?

Jenn: At first I was like “Hey Dina. You’re really cramping our style here because you’re scaring them. But I actually think it was a really productive and good conversation. I think it’s good for people to hear firsthand through someone who’s been through it recently. You’re in it in real time and I think that seeing what that looks like, because it’s a pain in the ass. There’s really no way around it. From a process standpoint it goes through developmental edit, it goes through line editing, both of which we’ve talked about. It goes through proof reader and we have a couple of proofreaders on our team. And there’s a difference between someone who thinks they’re a proofreader and someone who is a professional proofreader. Because they go in and they mark up all sorts of stuff to point out inconsistencies, discrepancies, wrong usage of something, wrong implications of something.

Mark: Verbs and…

Jenn: All kinds of stuff. That happens still while it’s in that word document. So you know that everything has been track changed properly. Excepted, rejected. Sometimes it can happen where it doesn’t go as planned. Again that is the nature of the process. Yours fortunately we did not have that happen. But then it comes back to you in the PDF and you now have to read it AGAIN. But now you’re reading it in a PDF instead of reading it in a word document. I know you have a show and tell item on your desk, if you don’t mind. I think what you do and a couple of our other authors have done as well is you had it printed out, had it bound, and you were able to really look at it, piece by piece. How do you think that process went for you to be skipping out to FedEx/Kinko’s yet again? How did that go?

Mark: You and I have talked about this before; about celebrating. And taking the time to reward yourself. That is a milestone. That, to me, I like a party, so anything I can to put a theme on it and have a party and that was just a moment to pause, congratulate yourself, you’re doing a good job. It’s a lonely space out here. Especially when you’re writing a memoir. You’ve got to take these moments when you can. We just… I hope everybody gets to go on a cruise when they have their PDF. It just worked in timing that we had ours before we took our family on a cruise. Mr. Wonderful got to read it in real time on the cruise. That’s the first advice I give you: Take that as a moment to pause and really celebrate the accomplishment.

Then, get ready, roll up those sleeves. Because you’re going in. You’re going Airplane Mode. A couple of key things that I wanted to get across: this is the time, it’s pretty much

lock-down. The bright idea train has left the station. You have now got to focus on what is encompassed in the front and the back of the binder. And it’s going to be very hard. I know it. Because I’ve done it.

[10:32] “Oh wait, what I meant to say”, “Oh wait, I want to add.” Take those ideas, the woulda, shoulda, coulda… I’m telling you right now folks, what you have is really going to be fantastic. Anything you have in addition to that, take those, capture them, write them down, putting them in the parking lot, and that might be something to accompany your speaking engagements that you’re going to be able to use WITH your book. That’s going to job your memory as a bright idea when you are trying to relate to an audience. It’s not that it’s a bad idea, it’s just that at some point you’ve got to put the period.

The other thing I would say (learned from the editor), having that special relationship with the editor, she told me during the process, when you get to those moments when you want to tweak or add, there’s not going to be a lot of room or space to really go off of the original content that you have. Now you’re working through the process of layout, design and those kind of things.

The other thing that’s powerful is to consider your verb choice. Maybe that can help you articulate whatever your idea was. Just tweaking the verb choice, adding or changing a word, that’s going to be okay at this phase. Even then you are going to run out time for bright ideas there too. Now you’re going to really focus on what is in between the covers. I really took that to heart.

I went page by page by page with the editor in a phone meeting. We just had that dialog. And we had it back under deadline, back to the publisher. That verb choice thing really helped me articulate what I thought I was missing.

Jenn: That makes a lot of sense. How many times do you think that you read through it in this particular part of the phase?

Mark: A solid three.

Jenn: That’s what I would expect.

Mark: And another thing I would add to that… let your team also relish in that milestone with you. Mr. Wonderful couldn’t wait to unwrap the new package. Rely on that team. You’re tired. You’re tired of reading your own words. You don’t want to disparage it. You love your manuscript. It’s human nature to be tired. The fresh set of eyes in your support system is a dual approach. They’re continuing to be involved with you and help you and be your cheerleader. Plus they’re adding valuable set of additional eyes. Don’t forget your support system that you started with in the process.

Jenn: We’re talking about the arduous part of the process where you’ve read your work who knows how many times while it was in the word document, three solid times when it was in the PDF, now let’s catapult into the print proof that arrives. Share with me the experience when it showed up at your doorstep.

Mark: Oh my goodness! I think as authors that is one of the pivotal moments. That is a crowning moment that you will just remember. Very impactful. I had come from a very long day after a busy day at work. We live at the end of a pretty long hallway and from a distance it looked like Amazon threw up on my doorstep. I confess I was ordering supplies but there were tons of boxes. Kind of over in the corner, there was a thin box leading up against the wall, where the other boxes were thrown there and scattered about. You had already told me the proof was coming. Well, it came earlier than the expectation. Aaron was just getting home at the same time. He never knows what he’s going to walk into when he comes home. It was emotional. It was like “Holy Cow”. And he’s like “Let me see it!” And I said “No!” I immediately sent you a text message and a photo. And I even think a shrieking video. I got it, and I’m holding it… Does everyone fan their face with it?

Jenn: Smell of a new book

[17: 40 Commercial break]

Mark: What a great moment. But you’re not standing there long because there’s more work. You’re rolling up your sleeves again. It’s just in a prettier version. We went from the clunky wonky word doc, to the PDF doc, then you get it more in a condensed version. The design has been done. Your cover is just beautiful. It’s pretty special experience.

Jenn: That’s the happy side of it. That’s the shrieking at the mailbox that I am notorious for. We actually one of our team calls and I was waiting for a proof of an author’s book and I happened to see UPS rolling in. I went shrieking out to the mailbox. I had our whole team there so I was able to do a show and tell. It had never worked out that way before. It was exciting to share my exciting with everyone else on the team. It’s a team sport, publishing. There’s no solo-ness about this process.

We’re talking about the excitement. I’ve got the book. You have your copy, I have our copy. What is next in this process and how did you feel about it?

Mark: Because of my schedule, I asked Aaron to take a first stab and read it, gets a little bit more time. I was traveling and left the book baby in good hands. He started and read it again page by page, developing a report. Page 33, paragraph 7, blah, blah, blah. You know you start it, you dog ear the pages, or you highlight, or write a note in the margin and you create a line by line report. And by the time I got home, I read it again, and in addition to his comments, I had an open word document on my screen, and as I was reading in the late hours, I would just continue to update the report so that way by the time I was ready to send it back to you, I had done diligence and the whole report, line by line to make it easier for your staff to say “Okay, what is he talking about?” Then you had a very systematic approach to dive right in. Get organized is what I tell you. As much as you hate to do it, it’s okay. It’s a proof copy for a reason. You can mark it. You can highlight. I felt weird doing it because you don’t want to write on your baby, but that was kind of the process. Give yourself time too.


I talk about working the manuscript after you’ve had a really crappy day, how do you think the writing is going to turn out if you’re not in the right space? Same with editing. You want to take the care and time to put into it. This is the final stretch. You want to show the world all of your great work. You also want to make sure that the period is in the right spot. It’s your responsibility. I had a team but I didn’t take that as “Ah, they’ll catch it. I’ll just rely on somebody else.” Although I do have a team, my name is at the bottom and so you’re solely responsible. You’re not done yet. You’ll see when we’re done – March 31. That’s when we’re done, done. We’ll pop the corks then. It’s a process just like everything else.

The AUTHOR’S ACADEMY also does a great job in predicting what you do at these phases. I have used that as my companion road map to help really guide me. I’ve got the verbal advice from you. The email “Okay, here it is. Here’s what I need you to do and get it back by this time.” And I immediately went back to the AUTHOR’S ACADEMY when we studied it so long ago. Seemed like ages now for me. I really used that as the companion guide. I’m going to get every last drop and morsel out of that Author’s Academy.

Jenn: I think you certainly have. I appreciate that you use it as a road map. That’s exactly what it is. The AUTHOR’S ACADEMY is intended that you can go through it and not have to work with someone like us. It’s our content and we’re bringing it to people. The idea is that you can take it and go self-publish on your own and have a really good quality product. But a lot of time it happens that people in the academy end up hiring us. And it’s perfect because now you already know our system. You know what we’re looking for. You know what to expect.

One thing I want to circle back on as we are concluding. You made a valid point about the fact that it is your name on the book. So with the proofing process, I say to everyone that you will find mistakes in the PDF, you will find mistakes in the print copy, you will find mistakes the second time you read the print copy, you will find them likely the third time you read the print copy. It’s just the nature of the process. When you have 300 pages and 65,000 words, finding one or two things here or there is not the end of the world. BUT you want to have good quality. You don’t want to print something that has errors in it. Which is why we have so many rounds and rounds of catching that stuff. But at the end of the day, it is the author’s responsibility for that final sign off that says “I am 100% happy and satisfied. I have proof-read it, I have found everything. Check”

If you think about the last book you read, is there any chance you happen to know who the publisher of that book was? Probably not. I think of favorite books of mine and I have no idea who published them. And I’m a publisher! It’s one of those things that no one cares who the publisher is. So when there is an error potentially that is missed, it is reflected poorly on the author (as well as the publisher) but people aren’t going to be thinking of “oh the publisher.”


I think I said this in our last podcast that I found a typo in the description on one of the big traditional five publishing houses on their sales page for one of their authors. I found a typo in it. Even with that, and I know exactly which person wrote it, I know exactly the title of the book, but I don’t know which publisher it was. I’m thinking it was the author, even though I know it’s a collaborative effort. I’m not saying that to bypass responsibility because it 100% is a full team effort between the author and the publisher. At the end of the day, if the author decided to half-ass it or take the easy way out, or not want to put in the time to actually proof read, you know on top of this, after the professional proof-reading process happened. It’s really the author that unfortunately it reflects on. We don’t want that to happen. We want it to be a good solid work product. But I appreciate you alluding to that because it’s so true. It’s our job but it’s also your job to be sure you’re 100% happy with what’s there.

Mark: I think I have taken that responsibility fully throughout the whole process. If you’re self-publishing or going through a publisher like PYP, you know how are you going to show up for the day? How are you going to show up for this project? Are you going to be prepared? Are you going to be on time? Are you going to do all of the things that you would expect somebody else to do if they were working for you?

One nugget of advice I got from Phyllis Moore (author of Opal Story), a mentor of mine, I talked with her a couple of years ago. I’m thinking I have my toe in the pond, I’m thinking I’m going to jump in, cover me I’m all in. . . she’s like “what? You already did it? You’re done? How did this happen?” She told me some of the reviews that you get will point out that there’s an error in fact on page x. She uses that as an opportunity to reach out and thank the person for helping her out. “Thank you for your feedback. This just helps me make my book a much better product for everybody else. I appreciate it.”

Jenn: Yeah

Mark: You don’t to be sloppy. You’re not being graded. I took that oath early on in the process. You’re only as strong as your weakest link and I was not going to be the weakest link.

Jenn: Not at all. I think that it’s important to note that people have advanced reader teams. They have people read the book in advance primarily for a testimonial or a review or some kind of marketing copy but that’s also where people can point out the flaws. “Did you happen to see this?” We all get so in the weeds on words on paper, that you need that outside eye to come in. It jumps out at other people because they haven’t read it at least a dozen times. It does become challenging to see errors when you’ve read it so many times.

My wife’s best friend is a voracious reader (don’t know how she finds the time!) but this is what she is passionate about. I always give her copies of our author’s books (that are interesting topics to her) and I ask her to let me know if you find something. You won’t hurt my feelings; please tell me. And we had a book that went out in 2017 and she said “I don’t want to tell you this because I know it’s already out there, but I found something.” It was “though” instead of “through” or something so nuanced and small but she did find

it. We updated it on the back end. That’s kind of a little bit of what makes us different from other publishers. Other publishers, once it’s shut, you are done. That is it until you do a revised edition a couple of years later. For our authors, if someone catches something, it’s something egregious, it’s not preference (I wish I had said this word), it’s a legitimate typo, we will change it on the back-end. No one needs to be notified. It’s just a small change so for anything printed moving forward, it has been corrected. Fortunately we don’t have to do it that often. In the couple of times that has happened, we’ve done it. For me, I want our joint work product to be best reflecting both you and I and our team. So if that means doing a little extra work on the back-end, that is fine by us.

This was a lengthy chat about a very un-fun topic that people don’t usually enjoy chatting about. I’m happy to see you balance out the good part of that process and the not so great part of the process.

Mark: Hang in there gang. You get that second and third proof and you’re rounding the corner to the marathon. It’s a wonderful feeling. It really is.

Jenn: That concludes us for the day. We will be back for episode 22. We have a good six weeks to go. You’re launch is the end of March.

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