Wednesday Wing – WHY YOUR BOOK NEEDS A PROOFREAD part 2 by @ProofreadJulia #wwwblogs

Why your book needs a proofread – Part 2

Last week Julia chatted about what a proofreader was and why you need one. Today we continue with ways to choose the right proofreader for you. Read Part 1 post here

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.


Even more helpful, concise hints about proofreading.

How much should writers expect to pay?

I would say, look around, get an idea of the range of prices being charged. See what you feel comfortable with. By the way, I charge per thousand words, and not by the hour; this is because I reckon it’s my responsibility how much time I take to do the job, not that of the client, and charging per thousand words means that the client knows exactly how much the fee will be.

How can a writer find a proofreader who will do a good job?

Firstly, ask the prospective proofreader if they will work on a small sample for you, without obligation and free of charge. No bona fide proofreader will object to providing this service.

Secondly – ask for references! And make sure that they are recommendations from real people whom you can contact, not just a quote such as, ‘Very pleased – Mrs A. of Aberystwyth’!

I’ve been followed on Twitter by lots of new companies that promise perfect proofreading at knockdown prices. How would a new writer know if they are any good?

Buyer beware. I’ve noticed a lot of companies and individuals, relatively new to Twitter, who are offering proofreading services. There has recently been an absolute avalanche of companies who seem to think there is money to be made from self-published authors. My advice would be the same as for the previous question. One thing I would warn strongly against is companies that advertise ‘proofreading software’. There is no substitute for the human eye and brain. Click here, and I try to explain why:

Some companies provide packages of editing, proofreading, cover art, translation, formatting and many other services. Is it a good idea to go with one of these, or seek out individuals who specialise in one particular area?

I would look for individual specialists. You really don’t know, with companies such as these, who they are farming the work out to. Naturally they have a reputation to maintain, but what if you like the editor they provide but not the proofreader or the cover artist? Recommendations and references, that is the key.

As a reviewer, I come across many books with a lot of errors. Sometimes, the writer will tell me that they have already been proofread—which means, basically, that they’ve been ripped off. Are there any other warning signs writers should look for, on proofreading sites?

Naturally, make sure there are no errors on their web page! I recently looked at a proofreader’s website, and was astounded to see 3 incorrect uses of the apostrophe. If you’re not sure about punctuation or spelling, ask another person or particularly an author whom you trust to have a look, just to see what they think.

What if a writer is submitting the book to a publisher? They will have their own proofreaders who correct mistakes before publishing, won’t they? Or would the writer be expected to get it proofread first?

If your book is being traditionally published, then you’d reasonably assume that the proofreading provided for your book will be satisfactory (although we’ve all seen errors in traditionally published books, have we not). Again, there is no guarantee that editors or proofreaders attached to an independent or small publisher work to a high standard. In short, if a publisher has accepted your book, you can expect them to proofread it for you. But you might want to get your book proofread before you submit it in order to increase your chance of publication. One of my clients is a successful, traditionally published US crime writer – he asked me to proofread his book before he submitted it to his publisher because he felt that he’d rushed it, and they might reject it on the grounds of too many errors.

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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.

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