Self-Publishing Proofing … UGH!

You’ve heard the old saw about the dog chasing a car? What will he do with it if he catches it?

I feel the same way about proofing the files for my Viet Nam memoir, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos.

I’m about a third of the way through the process; I’ve found some issues. Now what do I do?

Proofing for a self-publisher is different than for authors pursuing the tradition agent-print publisher model. In the latter, someone else is fudging with the details. (At least, I assume that’s true. Why else would you share 85% of the gross if they weren’t doing work you don’t want to do?)

And if I’ve learned anything about self-publishing, it’s that the process is full of details. Hundreds of details. Maybe a thousand details, or tiny decisions that must be made and acted on. (In fact, I’m already planning another paean to lists. I could never plow through this self-pub production process without lists — to do lists, check lists, deadlines, reminders, catalogs of lists, links to lists of lists, etc.)

Witness the first issue I discovered during my proofing tests. (Oh, yes, I tested many devices and apps. See below.)

ProofingThis is how the Library page appears in Kindle:

  • Top – That’s my computer monitor showing the FOUR versions in the Kindle app for the MacBook Pro.
  • Lower left: A Kindle White, showing a generic cover with the HOTEL CONSTELLATION title. All other books in the library show their appropriate cover.
  • Bottom row, second from the left, the iPhone: Perfect. It’s hard to see in the photo, but it’s there, just as you would want it.
  • Bottom row, second from the right, Kindle Fire. My book is a no-show in the library. It’s there, and you can find it by scrolling across the bottom of the screen, but it’s not where I would like it.
  • Finally, lower right, the Kindle app on an iPad. Same issue here as with the Kindle White. The book shows up with a generic cover.

This problem of how (and even if) the books appears in the Kindle library may, or may not, be easy to solve. Just like the issue of having the cover appear twice in every file. (But that’s a separate issue … I think. I hope. I desire it to be so.)

I don’t know, because I’m not certain whom to ask. I’m sure I’ll fall back on the patience of my designers. I’m using their files; they’re experts (and I truly believe that); they probably run into this from time to time. They’ll know.

But you begin to see the magnitude of the proofing chore. And that’s just one item I’m checking. (Makes sense, right? Start with the cover.)

You can’t check everything. That would require rereading over and over a book you’ve already been through close to 100 times. So you create a sample that will cover Here’s what I’m checking:

  • Cover —
    • Appearance in library —
  • DLH email link hot? —
  • TOC / links
    • 1
    • 15
    • 27
    • Sources
    • Back links
  • MAP 1 —
  • MAP 2 (CH. 16) —
  • CH. 16
    • Pullout quotations —
    • Footnotes
      • Format —
      • Links forward/back —
  • Photos End of CH. 17 (10) —
  • Source links: 5
    • Show as links? —
    • Links work —

Let’s see. I’m proofing this on five devices: The Kindle app on my MacBook Pro; Kindle app on my iPad; Kindle app on my iPhone; Kindle 1 and Kindle 2. I regret — really, but for this purpose only — NOT having a Windows system to test this on. You can only do so much. (Big lesson there: You can only do so much.)

So what do I do? What’s good enough? I counsel young people not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good (enough). I will try to follow my own advice. But those two cover issues HAVE to be resolved.

Meanwhile, I have the proof the printed book to proof — it arrives on Monday, maybe — and that will involve turning every page, if not rereading the entire text. In addition, I have to upload all the files to Smashwords for distribution outside the Amazon world.

It’s just getting interesting.

Authors on Proofing

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
― Oscar Wilde

Picking up your first copy of a book you wrote, if there’s one typo, it will be on the page that your new book falls open to the first time you pick it up.
― Neil Gaiman

I do my best proofreading right after I hit send.
― Anonymous


The Big Thrill for Thriller Fans

Cover of The Big Thrill, September 2014

The Big Thrill, September 2014

One of the many advantages of attending ThrillerFest 2014 in July was learning about The Big Thrill, the free digital monthly zine from International Thriller Writers.

If you like to read thrillers or you like author interviews or you like inside looks at how it’s done by the best, you should sign up. It’s free.

Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused VIII

Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused

A Brief Conversational Narrative by David L. Haase

(Click here to get a PDF file of the complete Alice and Bernie story.)


Episode 8: In which truth is revealed.

“Hey, sarge. Thought you could use some coffee. Those feebees don’t look too happy.”

“They’re not. All they can ask is why we didn’t contact them first. Have they found them yet? Feds aren’t sharing any information with me.”

“Not yet, but the old ladies made contact with a granddaughter up in San Lorenzo.”

“Oh, yeah? They OK? They got away from the Mexican?”

“Salvadoran. And no, not exactly.”

“The Salvadoran made a ransom call.”

“Not really.”

“Well, what then?”

“It’s complicated, and I’m sure it’s contributing to the Feds’ unhappiness.”


“The old ladies weren’t kidnapped. They say they escaped from a euthanasia program their sons put them in.”

The Fairfield, California, Police sergeant looked at his old partner, forming an O with his mouth.

“It gets worse.”


“They kidnapped the Salvadoran, not the other way around.”

The sergeant chuckled.

“And the ladies are all right. The feebees found them?”

“Not yet. But that’s not all.”

“There’s more?”

“Yeah, sarge. It turns out the camp operator may in fact be using the place to identify rich old people. He persuades them to leave a big bequest to the camp. Then they suddenly have a heart attack. The Feds think they’ve got two likely cases already. Looks like the old ladies were right.”

“So, did they get the guy, Mr. Who, or whatever his name was?”

“Sort of. It’s more like he got them. He was doing a runner and plowed right into an FBI crime scene van pulling into the Motel 6.”

“And the Feds can’t find the old ladies?”

“Nope. It’s like they disappeared off the face of the earth – in a yellow school bus.”

“Are they still looking?”

“Of course. They have to. The press is all over them wanting to know when they are going to find two old ladies and a Salvadoran driving up the 5. I mean, how hard can that be?”

Sarge honked and honked his laugh and tears rolled down his eyes. It was good to be a desk sergeant on a slow Saturday.


“Alice, it’s after lunch. The sun is setting. I told you the sun should not be behind us. That means we’re heading east, not north.”

“Well, Miss Smarty Pants, if you think we’re going in the wrong direction again, maybe you should navigate.”

“Alice, I recognize this road.”

“Bernie, you’re blind as a bat. How can you recognize anything?”

“I can see colors just fine, thank you, Alice. We just passed a Wendy’s, and I’m sure there’s a McDonald’s up on the right. This is the way we come back from bingo at Holy Rosary. We’re not far from St. Gertrude’s. I just know it.”

“It does look a little familiar. Hey, Pablo, hang a right up here. A right. Right. This way I’m tapping your shoulder. There. There. … Oh, you missed it, you ninny. Now listen to me, we …”

Bernie sat back, contented to be almost home. Saturday was pot roast night. With luck, she thought, we can make the four o’clock seating.

– 30 –