It’s not just you. Creating a Kindle book version is not automatic!

Creating a Kindle book should an easy 1–2–3 process, right? Shoulda, coulda, woulda. It should be an easy process, but it is most certainly not.

Have you spent hours trying to turn your book into the Kindle-ready electronic format so you can sell it on Amazon? Have you had “too much fun” trying to get your chapter headings in the table of contents to link to the chapters themselves? Ahah; that’s a good one!

I’ve done this myself, and finally, finally found a program that works without too much wasted time, and minimal frustration.

I’ll be glad to do this for you, or you can try it yourself. In any case, you will need a proofread before putting your book out there for the whole world to see.

The program that I used successfully is called Sigil. Remarkably, it is freeware. You can use Microsoft Word, but I found that it did not work for me. I created a booklet in MS Word, and while it looked fine on my computer, I believe it downloaded improperly for some Amazon buyers. Very frustrating!

With Sigil, it’s much easier to see what’s going on. If you know even elementary HTML, it will certainly be helpful.

What exactly is a proofreader?

Let me explain. But first, let’s allow the government to explain. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Occupation Profile for a proofreader carries this definition:

    In the never-ending battle against errors, sometimes proofreaders feel like this.

    Read transcript or proof type setup to detect and mark for correction any grammatical, typographical, or compositional errors. Excludes workers whose primary duty is editing copy. Includes proofreaders of Braille.

    Note that it excludes editors. Hmmm. Well, I’m a proofreader/editor, or more accurately, an editor/proofreader. I do not simply mark the error for correction, I suggest the fix, and rewrite any confusing text. The client is free to use my edits and suggestions, to tweak it further, and to discuss the merits of the change, and the intent of the message.

The Department of Labor defines an editor’s work as follows:

  • Plan, coordinate, or edit content of material for publication. May review proposals and drafts for possible publication. Includes technical editors.

If you work in advertising, graphic design, publishing, printing, or academia, you have come into contact with proofreaders & editors. If you are in another field, if you are writing a book for the first time, or helping a family member with their memoirs, it’s possible you have not.

An editor/proofer is not a person who leaps out to judge you, slap your hand with a ruler and mark your grade down for making an error. No, no, no! At least, that’s not my approach. The proofreader and editor is an ally to help you reach your goal of clear, clean, graceful communication.

The proofer/editor is not there to change your voice! They make the edits work within your style of writing. If the existing style of writing is totally wrong for the project, however, then yes, that can be rectified.

In working with individuals, as opposed to ad agencies, I am often so impressed with people’s writing skills. They may say, “I can’t write very well,” but that is not so! They are clear, they get the point across! They simply need someone to review the work before it is submitted.

Part of the creation process is that everyone needs that second set of eyes. The proofer/editor (PE) is there not only to catch missing commas, suggest semi-colons, correct dash usage and run-on sentences, but is there to discuss WHY there is a better choice. Big-deal writers need editors too, believe me. And excellent editors, should they create a book or screenplay of their own, need an independent proofer. It’s like the movie, There Will Be Blood. In this case, There Will Be Errors, because your brain will show you what is supposed to be there—a hallucination, if you will.

To use my favorite cliché: long story short, I help perfect your hard work. I find errors of all kinds, including the inadvertent faux pas. I annihilate duplication, which is so easy to have thanks to the miracle of cut-and-paste.

Contact me. We can discuss your goals for your project and how I could help. There is no charge for a consultation and discussion:



University of (Blank Space here)

This is what I’ll call a proofreading war story. It’s an example of what happens when you ASSUME.

My practice is that I cannot assume. I simply cannot assume anything. I either know it, or I verify it by looking it up, or draw attention to it by notifying the client. I cannot assume; I will not assume.

Now you know that I do not assume. For instance: I do not assume that an unusual name is spelled correctly, simply because several principals have reviewed the content. If it rings a bell for me, I’m going to verify the spelling.

Assumption leads to errors. My goal is to eradicate errors or to repair them.

Let’s proceed. This tale took place in the mid-1990s. A satisfied client referred me to a small ad agency. I did a couple of jobs for them. Great; fantastic! Everyone is happy. Yes, I found errors lurking in the beautiful brochure that 17 professors (so I’d been told) had reviewed, looked at, discussed, and pronounced fit to print.

All right—the beautiful brochure (and it was really well-done) was nearly there. The entire thing was faxed over to me for review—except the back cover. I called them up and said, “Hey, the back cover page didn’t come with the fax.”

And I was told: “We’re not sending that because nothing changed on the back.” [UH-OH. Danger, Will Robinson!]

I should have replied, “I really need to see it to judge whether anything ‘changed’ on the back or not. Just because no edit is made certainly does not indicate that nothing changed. The keyboard could have been bumped and given you an extra character or something.” But I didn’t say that.

So, I did a mark-up of the content and faxed back the marked pages, of which there were only a few.

The last step of this process was the brochure going into blueline stage. “A blueline is a type of contact proof, so named because it is created by having the negative come in contact with a special type of paper.” [Source =]

Now, the owner of the small agency did not send me the blueline proof to review to ensure my changes were done. He checked it himself; all my marked edits were done. And next, the beautiful brochure, a $10,000 print job, PRINTED. Yes, it printed, and centered on the back cover it proudly said:


                   Dallas, Texas

University of __________? Yep, the city was GONE, missing, not there, omitted, vanished, disappeared, stolen, sucked into the upper reaches of a vast nothingness.

Because at the time only graphic designers knew Photoshop and the design packages, the designer was able to supply a confusing line of double-talk to cloud the issue. I called up an expert I worked with and questioned her. She said, “Sounds like an overlapping text box covered up that word.” Yes, you can have an empty text box, or empty image holder, and it might obscure other things.

Wow! UNIVERSITY OF _____________ on a 10-grand job! Thankfully I was able to prove I’d asked for, but not received the all-important back cover.

“Why didn’t you get me the blueline?” I asked the agency owner.

“I didn’t have time,” he answered. No time—but time is money, right? He had to come up with the additional money to re-do that print job. Paying to re-do it took the time he supposedly didn’t have, plus the extra money. It would have been a huge blow to lose his client, The University of _________.

Years later, having worked with Photoshop, Quark, In-Design, etc., I understand how these things work. It does not make me a designer, but like they say, knowledge is power. You can never stop learning.

The moral of this story is Do Not Assume! Hire an experienced proofreader/editor and let them have at it! You, as the client, remain the final decision-maker.

Triple-threat creative warriors

I’d like to share with you a trend that has become even more pronounced of late — the requirement that a creative staffer or freelancer handle everything on a project.

Let me share a job posting that an agency forwarded to a friend of mine. This friend is an excellent graphic designer; a true designer, not a desktop publisher. I love her work and recommend her often. She is also a print-run professional. She has project management skills, drive, and gets it done right. We have worked together on numerous projects over the past 15 years.

The job posting, with identifiers removed, reads as follows:

Company Z has an immediate need (in City X) for a Production Artist who has content creation and proofreading experience. 

Ho-ho-ho! Is there too much fluoride in their water supply?

What do I say all day? You can’t proofread your own stuff — no one can. You will make errors, because your wonderful brain will fill in the pattern and show you what is supposed to be there, even if that component is missing.

This company wishes for a designer who can write the content, create good design for it, and proofread as well? Allritey then, but whomever takes this position is going to demonstrate why this is not a good idea. The problem will show itself in a high-stress, deadline situation. I myself have experienced it when editing/proofing a book under a very tight deadline — while also doing the layout! In these scenarios, you will never have enough time to reach zero errors. That is unacceptable.

The only thing missing from that job posting above is a call for the “triple-threat creative warrior” to handle the coding for the website. PHP, Ruby on Rails, Joomla sites, etcetera, etcetera. And yes, I’ve seen job listings that require that as well.

Personally, I do know HTML. Do I know it well enough to create a great site for someone? NO. Can I proof and edit the great site that a person created for you? YES.

If you are working as a triple-threat designer/writer/proofreader, and you’re under the wire, I do hope you have time to submit your work to an independent proofer-editor who has never seen the material. Don’t let some visible errors mar the masterpiece for which you did the work of three people.

P.S. I really think that “Triple-threat Creative Warrior” should be a job category, in the same way that “Executive Protection Specialist” is a category. Yep, you heard it here first.


Americans adopting Aussie preposition use

If you believe you’ve been hearing Americans adopting Australian style use of prepositions, you’re not imaging things.

For example: Good for you versus Good on you

In America, to congratulate someone or show approval for their behavior, we can say Good for you! (with the emphasis on “you”).

In Australia (and apparently Ireland as well), you will hear Good on you!, where “on” is emphasized, in Australia at least. In Oz-speak, it sounds run-together in one go: Well GoodOnYa mate!

Strangely, this usage has been creeping into the Internet communications of Americans for a few years now, and I do not approve. Frankly, I find it quite irritating, because when I read Good on you!, I “hear it” in an Australian accent. Speakers of American English, if saying this aloud, will have to adopt an unnatural slowness. Example: Well, good on YOU. The emphasis has to remain on YOU to get the point across. If an American speaker emphasizes “ON,” I won’t be sure what they said. Did they just say get on you? Uhhn, say dat again, pod’nah.

I suppose Australian movies and Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) have contributed to this. Now I truly understand why the French have the French Academy—the Académie française—to help preserve the purity of their language. Please help us stop Americans adopting Aussie preposition use. It’s for the children! I’m not kidding.

Keep your eye on this in web forum posts. Do you notice it? If so, good for you!





The Friday 5:00 PM press release


… and it needn’t be 5:00 or Friday, for that matter. Any time you are creating a document that’s going to be scrutinized by the media and the public, please run it by the proofer. Creating by committee, under pressure, guarantees errors. The proofreader steps in to correct these before the document is released.


The Big Wind-Up: Tortuous Sentence Structure

Over the past several months I have become glaringly aware of a horrible linguistic habit that many, many Americans have picked up. It’s being used all over the country. Educational level has nothing to do with this. In fact, some of the most egregious examples come from academics. I present to you the Big Wind-Up:

What I’m going to do is, I’m going to explain why this is wrong.

Argh! That’s it, the Big Wind-Up. “What I’m going to do is . . . .”

The pitcher is on the mound, and you know it’s coming your way. Just tell me what you’re going to do – don’t tell me that you’re telling me what you’re going to do.

Let me fix that horrible structure. The simple fix dictates chopping the Big Wind-Up entirely.

What I’m going to do is,
I’m going to explain why this is wrong.

And here’s another example featuring the same passive, wrong-order construction:

What it is is, is that he mixed two types of anti-freeze in my German car.

For the sake of humanity just make a plain statement! In English we don’t use “is” three times in a row. I blame this outrage on the strange direction of modern education, and that we no longer teach how to diagram sentences. A simple statement will suffice:

What it is is, is that he
The problem is that he mixed two types of anti-freeze in my German car.  -or-
He mixed two types of anti-freeze in my German car – that’s the problem.

Yeah, he did — he mixed two types of anti-freeze in my German car. Nicht gut, meine Damen und Herren. So drain it and put the right stuff in there.

Listen to your friends and co-workers – listen to yourself. Are you doing this? You can reform this heinous habit, and think of the oxygen you’ll save….

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