Wednesday Wing – Why you need a Proofreader Part 1 by @ProofreadJulia #wwwblogs #amwriting

What is a Proofreader? Why you need one, and how to choose one – Part 1

Making your book as error-free as possible before publication is essential in today’s flooded market. New writers with no experience in the industry may not know exactly what a proofreader does, or how to find a good one. Today I’ve asked one of the UK’s top proofreaders, Julia Gibbs (@ProofreadJulia on Twitter) to help writers through this stage of the publishing process.


What is a proofreader? Why you need one, and how to choose one, Part 1.

First of all, can you explain the difference between content editing, copy editing and proofreading? I know a lot of new writers wonder about this.

Certainly! An Editor will look at the book as a whole, and make suggestions such as: let’s make this character more prominent in the plot; how about inserting a short chapter with a bit of back story; this plot thread isn’t fully explained; you might consider writing this character in 1st person PoV (point of view) etc. It’s not an editor’s job to correct typos, although they may spot a few.

A Copy Editor will look at the actual text more closely as a whole, and will point out for example: overuse of a certain word in a paragraph; factual errors; a word that isn’t quite right, and will suggest an alternative. The function of a copy editor is to look at each page/paragraph/line and pick up inconsistencies or repetitions, or just quirks that could put off a reader.

A Proofreader will correct your spelling, punctuation and grammar. The content of your work does not concern a proofreader, but they are the final person to work on your book and make it as error-free as possible before it is published.

Do all writers use editors? Should they all use a proofreader?

Most writers need an editor, but there is a small percentage who are capable of editing their own work. You may be one of those people. However, and it’s a big however, about 98% of authors need a proofreader. Make that 99%. I say this from experience. In the work of the most educated and assiduous of writers, I find between 300 and 800 corrections to make. Often they’re surprised! Why is this? Well, it’s because you can’t proofread your own work. Your mind reads what it expects to see. I recently contacted a blogger to point out a glaring error in the first line of a book review; she said she’d read over the piece about 8 times, and not spotted it. QED, I say!

At what stage of the pre-publication process should the proofreading take place?

It’s essential to ensure that you’ve finished editing your book before you pass it to the proofreader. No matter how tempted you might be, please don’t rewrite anything after the proofreader sends it back, as you might (will) insert more tiny errors. I recently worked on a very good book, whose author subsequently inserted a few more paragraphs – thus throwing up around 40 new errors! And we all know what that means – reviewers pointing out typos, which spoils our good work.

Some writers are on a limited budget, and might get a friend whose English is very good, to proofread. Is this a sensible option?

It’s not a bad idea, but not a great one. Your friend will not read the book with the same mindset as a proofreader who doesn’t know you. They may skip bits without meaning to, they may wish not to offend you by finding too many errors, and they may not work to your timetable! A case in point; one of my clients said that his fiancée had proofread his 40k-word novella, and I found over 300 typos in it. Look at it this way; if your friend doesn’t spot, say, a particular 45 typos in your book, you can’t really reprimand them. But you would not expect a proofreader whom you are paying to miss those 45 typos.

Rosie's Notebook

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39 thoughts on “Wednesday Wing – Why you need a Proofreader Part 1 by @ProofreadJulia #wwwblogs #amwriting

      • Or just write a short introdution to it and add the link. I’ve never known how to reblog, I just do this every time I want to put another piece on my own blog.


  1. Possibly one of the best articles on proofreading I’ve read, for the benefit of someone new to the game. 🙂 😉


  2. Hi Rosie and Julia … this makes such sensible reading … and I hate it when books have errors in … thanks so much for posting – cheers Hilary


  3. Thank you so much for your kind comments! I feel it’s very important to explain exactly what a proofreader does, especially for the benefit of authors who are just starting out and are not familiar with all the ins and outs of the publishing business.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Julia edited my second book, and I can highly recommend!
    I’m a pretty pedantic self-editor, but she ironed out errors that I’d completely overlooked. The days are long gone, I think, when self-pubbers can trust themselves for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very useful article for all writers. I always advise my author clients to have their manuscripts proofed professionally. It makes all the difference to the final book. I can also recommend Julia Gibbs’s services as we have worked together. Thanks for another great blog Rosie


  6. I will say that it is quite annoying, no matter how good the story is, to be jolted back to reality by misspelling and/or misuse of words. In some cases, I’ve read books where whole sections were repeated almost like the author was still contemplating how they wanted to proceed. God bless proofreaders! 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews


  7. Thank you for this first part! “explain the difference between content editing, copy editing and proofreading…” Everyone needs to read this! 🙂
    Great post. I spot typos and am careful when I write but I still wouldn’t publish without a proofreader.


  8. Very useful post. I like to combine editor/copy editor and the proof reader is the last one to whack away at the ms. Then I read the whole thing aloud and find more!


  9. I’m sure new authors will find this introduction very useful. Thanks to Julia and Rosie for spreading the word about the importance of proofreading.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Can’t recommend Julia enough; she did a fantastic job on my one and only Indie book. It was in such a mess from a poor proofreader and she sorted it. Worth every penny of her reasonable fee.j


  11. Proofreaders are extremely important. I use two that I trust…and a few boo-boos still manage to sneak through. Since I notice typos in trad-published books as well, I’m guessing it’s a bit of a curse for all authors!

    Great post, Julia. Pinned & shared. 🙂


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