What is a Book Proof?

Book proof
What is a book proof?

A book proof is a pre-publication version of your work. The purpose of a proof is so that you can check through everything before your work goes live. Creating a book is an involved creative process and you may want to make some last-minute tweaks at the proofing stage

What types of proofs are there?

There are 2 main types:

  1. Digital proofs – these are PDF files of your cover spread (front, spine and back) and interior of your book. These can be viewed on any computer in Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader. You probably already have this installed.
  2. Printed proofs – these are paperbacks or hardbacks that are created by the printer just for you before the book goes live. This is the last chance to check the book before it goes live.

What should I check for on a proof?

The list below covers some of the main elements to keep an eye out for, whether you are looking at a digital file or a physical copy of your book:Bookproof copyright page

  1. Check that the title page shows the correct title and author name, spelled correctly.
  1. Check that the copyright page shows the correct author name, pronoun (him/her), and the correct ISBN. If you have a website address or Twitter handle on your copyright page, check this is correct.
  1. Check that the table of contents. This can be time consuming but you need to check all the page numbers given refer to the correct chapters.
  1. If you have running headers (author name/chapter name/title) running across the top of each page, check these are correct. Generally speaking, you should not have a running header on any page that is the start of a chapter (as it detracts from the chapter name).Book proof header
  1. Check you are happy with the fonts used for chapter headings (we will match fonts used on the cover where possible) and the main body text of your book.
  1. Check the paragraph indents. Generally speaking, for fiction, we indent all Bookproof indentfollow-on paragraphs but have no indent at the start of a chapter or after a hard line break. However, some authors prefer different styles – that’s fine, just make sure it’s consistent.
  2. If you have any maps, tables and/or illustrations, check these appear as expected. You may want them repositioned slightly or to have the size tweaked.
  1. If your illustrations have any captions, check they are all as expected and in the correct font.
  1. If you have any footnotes/end notes or other complex elements, make sure to check they are appearing as expected and refer to the correct place.
  1. If you have an “about the author” section, check you have links to your website and social media.

You should also check your cover proof, to make sure the colours are as you expect them to be, not that all printers use the same ink, so there might be a marginal difference.

What if I want to make changes to my proof?

If we are publishing your book, you will find a typesetting correction form in your Dropbox. This is a spreadsheet that enables you to note down what you want changed and where. Another way to do it is to use Adobe Acrobat to mark up the PDFs themselves, but that is more complicated.

If you do request changes to your book proof, be aware that you will receive an updated file, which will also need to be checked through again.

Have any more questions about book proofs? Please submit them in the comments box below.

is our editorial guru. From dialogue to story arcs, she has a passion for helping authors improve their writing. She enjoys long, hilly runs in the countryside and is currently window-shopping for a new puppy. Weapon of choice: A strong coffee and a red pen. Currently reading: A Brief History of Seven Killings.
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