I think it's agreed by most, now, that publishing a book without getting it properly proofread is one of the worst mistakes an author can make. Here's Proofreader Julia (@ProofreadJulia on Twitter https://twitter.com/ProofreadJulia) to tell you about what makes a good proofreader, why she loves doing it, and (most importantly) what she does - and how much it costs!
The floor is yours, Julia!
When I Tweet that ‘every author needs a proofreader’, you may think that I am merely trying to drum up business. Well, you’d be right – but what I say is true!
An educated, intelligent person like you can do your own proofreading, right? Wrong! Being highly literate is no guarantee of being able to proofread one’s own work. In my experience, authors are too close to their own work to see mistakes; they see what they expect to see, not what is there. A writer needs that impartial pair of keen, trained eyes, and that’s where the proofreader comes in.
What sort of person makes a good proofreader? Someone who feels the
desire to inflict physical harm upon those who misuse apostrophes compulsion to right wrongs in the printed word wherever he or she sees – I have been known to pounce on mistakes with my red pen,
shouting ‘Aha!’ like Alan Partridge, though some may consider this reaction
rather extreme! You need to be the sort of person who, when he sees a
misprint in a notice in a shop window, is tempted to march into the premises
and demand an explanation for this outrage.
Anyone can set themselves up as a proofreader, but to practise effectively you need to know the difference between speech marks and quotation marks, when to use a colon and when a semi-colon, where a hyphen is needed, how to fix a wrongly-assigned dependent clause, and a whole host of other things that, sadly, are no longer taught in schools; that is why many people under the age of forty are unable to see where their written mistakes lie. That’s where I come in – alas, it also means that I have to admit to being aged considerably over forty.
Here’s what I do. I correct the following:
- Spelling errors
- Punctuation errors
- Grammatical errors
- Obviously missing or duplicated words
- Misapplied or inconsistent tenses
Proofreading is not the same thing as editing. Many people don't realise this. Editors will perform services such as: suggesting cutting out characters; changing or omitting dialogue; cutting superfluous description; moving chapters around; various other suggestions that will in their opinion improve the book. I don’t change the actual content of the work, I just correct the errors. For example, you might have begun six sentences running with the words "He thought." Whether this is advisable or not, it's not my job to change it. It's your editor, if you have one, who will make that change. However, if I happen to notice, for instance, a continuity error (e.g., someone being described as 26 years old, when in the previous chapter it states that they were born 28 years ago), I will let you know! I'll also tell you if I spot a feasibility error, or duplication of words.
So how much will all this cost?
So how much will all this cost?
I charge £3.50 per 1,000 words, which is USD $5.5. I do not invoice until I've finished the work, which I aim to complete in 10-14 days for novels or long works, or less time which I will advise of in the case of shorter works. I can be open to negotiation about price, or offer instalment payments, if a future client wishes to discuss this with me. You could, for instance, pay me £40 a month for five months, while you are writing the novel, so that by the time it's ready to be proofread you are fully paid up, and I can start the work. I invite possible new clients to send me a few pages of your manuscript which I will proofread free of charge - this is so that you can see if what I do works for you. I can also negotiate, if a novel is a lot longer - I'm always happy to discuss, just email me.
And finally, here is what one of my clients very kindly wrote about me:
‘With my latest novel, I decided to ask Julia to help me. Not only did she find hundreds of errors that I had completely missed, but she even spotted factual flaws and names that didn’t match and an element of the plot that didn’t work, things I had not noticed. She kindly went beyond her brief to do these things, in addition to correcting so many typos, missed words, repeated words, inappropriate commas, incorrect words even, that were totally invisible to me, perhaps because I was too close to the work. And all these myriad mistakes were present after I had already carefully checked the manuscript three times.’
Geoffrey D West
Geoffrey D West
Note ~ Sept 12 2015: This piece was written over 2 years ago - there are now many, many testimonials on Julia's site, if you would like to look at some more, and all the writers can be contacted to confirm.
Many thanks to Julia for that!
If you would like to contact her with a view to proofreading your work (please note: she will also proofread CVs, dissertations, essays, etc), you can follow her on Twitter (link above), on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ProofreaderJulia, or email her on email@example.com