As someone who has put out the occasional indie book, I think one of the most important steps is proofing that final copy. I know how it feels to be holding your book in your hands--at last! Your name stares up at you in big bold letters, and it feels like all the hard work you've put into creating this baby is finally going to pay off.
But let's not be too hasty. You still need to check that proof over with a fine tooth comb. Nothing is worse than publishing your baby and having people slobber all over it with comments about typos and weird fonts.
So what should you look for?
But if that seems overwhelming try these tips to help:
1. Reread the whole thing and have a highlighter handy. When you spot mistakes, highlight them. It makes it much easier when you're going back through to catch that bright bold color than using a black pen or pencil.
2. Check your chapter title placement. Does every chapter start with the same spacing? It should. That makes it look more professional and uniform.
3. Do you have weird spacing in the book? For example, is there too much white space between a sentence? Is your print too small or too big? Is it the same through out the book?
4. Use italics the same way in the whole book. If one person is thinking and you've italicized their thoughts, it should be that way through out for every character. Once you've established to the reader how you are showing thoughts, don't break the pattern by doing something different that will cause confusion.
5. If you italicize building names, books, movies, do it for every building name, book, or movie in the book. Again, this makes your book look more professional and provides continuity.
6. Be sure to include your name in the header of the manuscript. On the opposite page should be the book title. However, you can swap those two. Depending on what type of book you are publishing, it's also acceptable to put the subtitle on the opposite header instead of the author's name.
7. Make sure any art you use is yours or that you've paid the royalty on them. The last thing you want is a mad artist sending you hate email!
8. Double check your synopsis on the back of the book. This is what many readers look at first and nothing tells them more about the quality of your writing than misspelled words. Look it over with a fine tooth comb!
9. Have a trusted friend look at the proof. Even though you are seeing your novel in a new format, it never hurts to have one more pair of eyes looking it over. You'd be surprised at the things people catch that you've missed completely.
10. Enjoy your success at being an indie author. It takes a lot of hard work to get there!