Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Text-to-Speech Proofreading


Two weeks ago I mentioned that you should always read your book aloud during revisions because it allows you to hear errors. Well, today I want to take that a step further, and here's why. It's already been proven that the human brain can read misspelled words as long as the first and last letter are in the correct places. Well, think about this. You've read your own book countless times and know the story so well, that your brain is also filling in missing words. So what do you do?

Some people hire editors. If you are self-publishing, I highly recommend this. And not just because I am an editor. You are too close to your manuscript to find errors. Your brain will fill in what your fingers either didn't type or typed incorrectly. So having an editor is a must for self-publishing. (If you aren't self-publishing, get a few beta readers and/or CPs.) However…editors are human too. Yes, we do our best to make your work as error free as possible, but our brains work like yours. I read every book I edit twice. On the second time through, I know your story. That means my brain may fill in gaps (missing words or letters) just like yours will. Think about how many published books (even by the big five) still have an error or two in them. This is why.

What now? Ereaders have a cool feature that can help. It's the text-to-speech function. Over the past few weeks, this has become my favorite final pass on manuscripts. I send the Word document to my Kindle. (Handy tip: If you email the document to your Kindle with the word "Convert" in the subject line—don't actually use quotes, though—your Kindle will convert the document's formatting to make it look nice on your Kindle.) Then I let my Kindle read the book to me while I'm looking at it on the Kindle and following along. I have the Word document open on my laptop at the same time, so that when I hear a mistake, I can pause my Kindle and fix the error on my document.

While proofing the ARC of Looking For Love, my Kindle let me know I misspelled Harvard. Hearing Havard jumped right out at my ears, but not my eyes or my proofreader's eyes. So this is my new favorite proofreading method.

Have you used the text-to-speech feature to help you proofread?

38 comments:

  1. Oh gosh, your convert subject line tip just made my day. I am forever sending word docs to my Kindle and then deleting them because the format makes it impossible to read. Yeah for cool tips!

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    1. Someone told me about this tip over a year ago when I requested an ARC and all they had was a .pdf. I thought I wouldn't be able to read it on my Kindle. But the person told me this trick and it worked. I've been using it ever since. :)

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  2. Hi, Kelly. I have used TTS for a couple of years now for proofreading. I started on the Kindle, then searched for a better way. There are a few good TTS programs for sale on the internet, but the one I use is a free one. You can’t beat that.

    Balabolka can convert different file types, including some used by e-readers. You can read along with the highlighted text, open you story in word, and switch between windows to make corrections as you go.

    It even converts the text into MP3 files so you can listen on the go! TTS is great, but it takes getting used to. The best voice I’ve found is en-us, zirapro. With any TTS, watch for words like live and read. You’ll get used to them the more you listen.
    Here’s a link! http://www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm

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    1. Very cool. Thanks for sharing the link, Rick.

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  3. I will definitely be hiring an editor when I'm at that point. If you want good quality, you have to pay an expert! :)

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  4. This is excellent advice, Kelly! Thank you!

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  5. Well that sounds super helpful! I need to try it.

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  6. I've never heard of this. So cool. I don't know if it works on my Kindle though. It's not the latest fancy smancy one in color.

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    1. I had the original Kindle before I got the Kindle fire and it worked on that too. If you go to your settings, make sure text to speech is on. Then if you tap the screen anywhere once you open a book, it should bring up a play button at the bottom of the screen. From there, you can adjust the speed.

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  7. I have heard of it, but I haven't used it. When I edit for someone, I do much the same- a read through first, before setting to a formal edit.

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    1. I find this great to use as a final proofread to catch what my eyes might have missed.

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  8. YES, that^. Precisely.
    I also have an issue with sprinkling commas too liberally. The natural pause (for emphasis) that an actor reading the text might employ is not a comma in a properly written sentence. I'm still pondering an effective way to deal with this.

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    1. For that you have to rely on grammar rules. There's no other solution for it that I can think of.

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  9. Great advice, Kelly. My throat protests on longer books - plus you're right, my mind often fixes a few of the mistakes. And thanks for that link Rick.

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    1. I hear you. I get sore throats too from reading my books out loud.

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  10. I haven't done that but that sounds like a great tip!!! I did listen to the text-to-speech feature on a book once and the robotic voice drove me a little crazy!

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    1. I didn't like the robotic male voice on my original Kindle, but I don't mind the female robotic voice on the Kindle fire. She sounds more human to me.

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  11. YAY....now my wife doesn't have to read it to me anymore! :)

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    1. Lol I hope she'll still read your work though. ;)

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  12. Yeah! This sounds like a great way to hear mistake, which are so hard to find in our own work. Thanks for sharing! I have never used that feature on my Kindle.

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  13. Cool! I didn't even know that existed. I bet the work you do for your clients is pretty spotless then! Kelly Hashway, editor extraordinaire. =)

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  14. I used this on my old Kindle, but my new Kindle (which isn't that new anymore) doesn't have it. I do read aloud my manuscripts a few times in the last stages.

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    1. Really? I thought all Kindles had this feature.

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  15. Oh, wow! I never knew about the "convert" feature. Awesome! Unfortunately, my Kindle doesn't have the read-aloud feature. But I usually save my file as a PDF and have Adobe Acrobat read it to me.

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  16. Thanks for the tip about convert on word documents. I was using with pdfs but not on word...dumb me!

    And I always prefer to read aloud as a last stage while editing.

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  17. I never knew you could do that! I'll have to try it. Thanks Kelly.

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  18. nope never used it but this sounds awesome! it's crazy how many things slip through no matter how many times I proof read!

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    1. Agreed. It's nearly impossible to proofread your own work.

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  19. You know, I use TTS to read books now. My illness means I go through phases where I have problems reading. I did think of doing this, but thought of having to format the revision docs first and thought, Nah! Too much effort/cost. But you say simply adding convert to the subject line will convert the document? Superb! I'm so going to try this. Thanks so much Kelly.


    Have a great weekend
    shahwharton.com

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