Ideally get someone to read it who has not read any of it before. It needs to be someone with a good grasp of language, grammar and punctuation. As the author you know what the text should say, so you are likely to read it as correct, even if it isn’t.
A new reader is also more likely to pick up on continuity errors. They will notice plot holes, or things that haven’t been explained to the reader. Again, as the author you have the plot in your head, so you may not notice that you’ve left out a vital piece of information for the reader.
If you’re proofing the book yourself, put it away for at least a month. Do not read it at all. Then when you come back to it you can read it with fresh eyes.
To check for spelling mistakes, split the pages into columns. Then read down the columns, checking each word. This way you are more likely to spot spelling mistakes as you will be seeing the individual words, not the whole sentence.
Read aloud. This will help you hear if the sentences make sense, and will also force you to read slower so you’ll be more likely to pick up mistakes.
Make a note as you read through of any references to time of day, week, month year and time passing. Also keep a note of any ages that are referred to. This way you’ll notice if a chapter starts on a Monday morning, but by the end of it your characters are having dinner on a Friday night with no mention of the week in-between. It will also allow you to spot if a character has mysteriously aged beyond the number of years the plot spans. Or if they’ve not aged at all.
Senior Spiderwize Editor