Since I proof so many books, I try to be very academic about the texts, looking for scanning errors and copy editing errors only (it’s surprising how many of those are found in already published books by first-rate publishers, but I’ll speak of that another time). But that’s just not possible for me. I get caught up in the story, in the emotion, in the setting. I begin to identify with the characters. This is not ideal for a proofreader which is probably why I always proof a manuscript twice, first enjoying the story and catching most of the mistakes and then going back over more clinically. Not the best use of my time, but what the “hey”, it’s my time and my schedule, right? And I don’t charge by the hour for proofreading!
I don’t know about you, but I really love a book which takes place in a location with which I’m familiar. It’s so much easier to fall into the story, isn’t it! It’s also easier to catch the little location errors when they occur…putting BookPeople on the wrong street, locating Hutto west of Austin instead of east (my secondary degree in grad school was geography)…things I notice but 90% of other readers won’t. It’s that 10% that you have to worry about though. I once read a novel from a very well-known writer who located the Amazon in Borneo…a big copy edit problem because I know she knew where the Amazon was…it’s big, but doesn’t flow all the way to Borneo!
And if the similarities to my experiences happen in the first chapter or so, I’m completely hooked. Recently I started a novel about a professor and a hunky carpenter…in the second chapter the addition that he had been building fell off the house (channeling Tom Hanks in the Money Pit…didn’t you just love that movie?). First, I love a story about a guy in a tool belt! Second, I love an academic heroine since I spent a good portion of my life in academia. And third, I can sympathize with a falling addition since my ex-husband fell through my bathroom floor during the re-hab of my 175 year old farmhouse.
I’m almost finished with the proof of this book, and I’m still captured by the story. I’m giving most of the credit to the writing of the author, but a little bit goes to that “kick” I got in the beginning when I put myself and my experiences right there in the storyline.
I’m a happy camper doing this work! How did I get so lucky? And these wonderful authors PAY me…the cherry on the cake!