I humble myself by saying A Clear and Feathered Danger was chock full of errors, errors which would take numerous revisions to fix. Then I discovered my new Kindle’s text to speech function and errors got fixed in record time. Now the book is at a state where I can be proud of it. Is everything fixed? No. In long text there always are errors that slip through the cracks, even in really polished ones. But, I’d say the vast majority of the horrible, blatant errors are gone from my book.
Here’s why: Text to speech reads the text exactly how it is, not how we think it is. So if there are sentences like “We ate in cafeteria” it reads it exactly like that, not automatically placing a “the” in front of “cafeteria,” as people are likely to do in their own texts. Therefore, the sentence just doesn’t sound right, bringing it to your attention immediatly. Even if you’re just listening while typing, the errors will snap to your attention because your ears are still taking it in.
Now, text to speech won’t help you correct capitalization errors, missing quotation marks or errors of the their/there/they’re and its/it’s variety, but most everything else will be heard, even many punctuation errors, due the computerized voices stopping at commas and periods, as well as changing pronunciation based on hyphens and such.
To edit this way, it’s best to have the text to speech on a separate device while having the text open on your computer. Start the text to speech and then read along with text, pausing to make changes, then starting up again and continuing on. Now, people with, say, 100,000 words won’t be going anywhere for awhile, but the level of precision is worth the time investment.
You should have someone else proof read as this method is far from foolproof, of course, but text to speech is a great tool for self editing.