I must first say the search bar on this blog is the worst I've ever used. As in, I don't think it's even trying to find the words I type into it. Wow. I finally had to use Google to get the link to the original article. Fail, blogspot, although I still love you for many reasons.
Ok, on to topic.
I posted the meat of this June 6, 2012 after Star of Justice came out. Took me forever to find it again, so I'll print it this time and put it in my publishing notebook. Yeah, I have a publishing notebook. If it took you four years between books, you'd want better notes, too.
1) Run spell check on the entire document. Especially important for
made-up names. Just be sure to spell them correctly the first time. This
brings me to the addendum to 1): pay attention to spell check while running it.
Run grammar check on the entire document. This one will have you
banging your head over every fragment of dialogue, but it will catch
some (few) things. Not as many as you might hope. I also never trust
its suggestions, but it's a good way to make sure you're saying what
you mean to say.
3) Run "find" for everything you can
think of, in an orderly fashion, with a checklist. In fact, 1) should
probably be "keep a checklist of things to check." Extra spaces, extra
punctuation, words that should be italicized or capitalized. Words that
shouldn't be italicized or capitalized. If you think of it, write it
down and "find" it. Every time.
4) Keep a list of
things to check and check them off when you've checked them. I found a
couple of things I meant to check or change, yet apparently failed to
check or change. Do you know how irritating it is to think of doing
something and fail to actually do it? Yeah, you probably do.
5) Read the
entire document (yes, I mean that) in a format other than the one you
normally use. Really read it, too, not just skimming. I spotted the
missing period while reading Star of Justice on my Kindle. Stupid
me failed to note the spot, and despite my best efforts, grammar check
and "find," that period insists on remaining missing. I figure it's
God's way of humbling me.
6) Ask someone else
to help. If you haven't abused your friends, someone will be willing to take a look at your final draft and notice the stuff you miss. If you have a brilliant Little Sister like I do, she'll even take a pic of the problem and text it to you.
Well, this checklist ain't gonna check itself off. Got a book edit to finish.
Keep the faith.