Dean Evans

Books are beasts. Huge and often unwieldy. Novellas can range from 25,000 to 70,000 words; novels from 70,000 to north of 120,000 words. So there’s plenty of scope for missing mistakes when you write and self-publish one.

The bigger the word count, the greater the chance that you’ve made (and missed) errors such as misspelled words, missing words, duplicated words, inconsistencies and wayward formatting.

If you plan to self-publish a book on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, CreateSpace or any other platform, you might not have the luxury of working with an editor who can bang your manuscript into shape. You might not have the cash to hire a professional proofreader to give it a final polish. You’ll probably be doing all this yourself.

And that’s OK. You CAN do it yourself. Here are some of the ways that I’ve found to stamp out screw-ups in a book before you publish it. Maybe they can work for you…

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In the rush to publish, nobody noticed that the headline should have read 'Bradbury'.
When blogging or writing for the web, speedy content publishing is often critical.

So much so that it’s easy for bloggers and web writers to abandon proofreading to work with a ‘publish now, fix errors later’ strategy.

But it’s not ideal. You can get away with this approach if your website/blog is small and you don’t get much traffic.

But bigger brands and businesses demand more attention to detail. They can’t afford to have poor spelling and wayward grammar ruining the impact of valuable content.

You can improve the accuracy and effectiveness of your content by understanding why mistakes creep in and why you don’t spot them. See if any of these sound familiar…

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Lean principles advocate increasing efficiency, improving quality and eliminating waste. In a nutshell: more value, less work.

It’s not a new idea. ‘Lean Manufacturing’ (aka ‘Lean Production’) has its origins in the Japanese manufacturing industry, specifically in production systems developed by automotive mega-corp Toyota.

The point? What if you could take these Lean principles and apply them to content creation? What if you could maximise content efficiency? Could you write faster? Better? Could Lean principles help you save time and combat distraction? That’s what ‘Processify’ is about.

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Spell check fail as news channel writes Prince of 'Whales'.

Word processors like Microsoft Word and OpenOffice have certainly made writing easier.

But they’ve also made writers lazier. Traditional proofreading is often an afterthought in a world of intelligent auto corrections and real-time grammar checking.

Consequently, it’s tempting to leave error-hunting to a spell checker. But effective proofreading isn’t as simple as a spell check, and running a spell check shouldn’t be a replacement for spending some time carefully re-reading text before you print or publish it.

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If you’ve already tried our first proofreading challenge, you might be looking for some more proofreading tests to give your mistake-spotting skills a workout.

No problem. Here are two more quick tests to see whether you have a proofreader’s eye for editorial detail. See how many errors you can find…

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Good content stands out from the crowd.

Good content writing is different things to different people.

It might be an article that gets you lots of traffic. Or retweets. Or Facebook likes.

It could be a sales page that converts at more than 2%.

Or a handy solution that solves an annoying problem.

Good content writing is all of these things and more. In my experience, good website content and good blog content deliver what a reader needs – information, a solution, entertainment or inspiration.

… While also satisfying the demands of the content publisher in terms of page views, links, leads or sales.

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Fast writing will enable you to get more done.

Writing can be a slow and painful process. Some days the word gods just don’t smile upon you. They barely even smirk.

Sometimes you can write for hours and only have 100-200 words to show for it. And even they don’t seem very good when you read them back.

So you delete them and you’re left with nothing.

Surely there’s a better way? A faster way?

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Get more traffic to your website. Load your editorial gun with proven popular articles.

If you create content for a website or blog, you’ll want to produce popular articles that will drive a flood of traffic.

But the process can often be frustratingly hit and miss. This is because there are a huge number of variables involved – what you write about, how competitive your chosen keywords are, how you promote your content, how accessible the content is, and so on.

While there isn’t a fool-proof formula for creating popular articles, some types of content are typically more ‘popular’ than others. Here are five article types that you should be firing…

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opening line
A good opening line hooks your attention by doing one of seven things brilliantly.

Its job is to make you read this second sentence, which has the singular task of propelling your eyes towards the third sentence. This one.

Go back and read the first line of this article again. It uses ‘Opening Line Strategy #3’…

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As a writer, one of the things that can hobble your creative output is too much planning.

Planning is good. Planning can improve efficiency. I’m a big fan of planning and turning plans into processes that can help you work faster and get more done.

But it’s easy to get stuck in the planning phase and bogged down in false productivity.

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