The three questions to ask your proofreaders

Once your book is ready, you can ask proofreaders for their feedback. These are often friends and acquaintances and their response is usually positive. How do you make sure that your proofreaders’ feedback is really useful? I’ve found that there are three questions you should ask your proofreaders to obtain feedback that really makes your book better.

I prefer proofreaders from my own network. As soon as you announce that you are writing a book, you will receive responses from followers who will send you tips and questions. By communicating with them, you involve them in the writing process. There are always followers – or others involved with your book – who offer to read your book before publication; they consider it an honor to be the first to read your book and give feedback. You can also ask friends and family, but make sure that they are really motivated, or at least have a link to the topic.

Proofreaders provide feedback from the reader’s perspective. They will tell you what they like or find interesting. Some will mention small things that don’t make sense, or maybe sections that move too fast or take too long. Some may find an occasional mistake that your editor overlooked.

Proeflezers van je boek geven waardevolle feedback als je de juiste vragen stelt.

However, most proofreaders only give bits of feedback: many won’t read your entire manuscript, or not within the deadline.

Unfortunately, in real life, something often comes up, they are busy or forget the deadline. My experience is that from a pool of ten proofreaders, in the end, only two or three will deliver valuable feedback. Keep this in mind when asking people to proofread. Ask if they are available and whether they can provide their feedback by a specific date.

In my experience, the best way to get specific, useful feedback is to ask proofreaders the following three questions:

  1. Which bits did you like?
  2. Which bits put you to sleep?
  3. What did you miss in the book?

Finally, create a system for yourself. How will you process the feedback? If all ten of your proofreaders send you a document with comments, it is still quite a job to review everything and determine what you can and cannot adopt. Include time for this in your book writing schedule. And keep in mind that all this feedback makes your book better.

Are you serious about writing your book?

Don’t reinvent the wheel, like I did. As the author and co-author of more than 30 books, writing coach for hundreds of people and organizer of 20 writing retreats, I have finally found the best system for writing a good book: the ‘Reverse Writing’ method. If you begin at the end and create a good structure before you start writing, you will be able to follow your energy, instead of the page numbers.

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