Monday, 8 April 2013

Think you can't afford a PROOFREADER? Think again!



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  burning 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
  • Typos
  • 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?


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


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 juliaproofreader@gmail.com



44 comments:

  1. GREAT stuff, Julia! Thanks for sharing her, Terry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Patricia!

      Delete
  2. Ah. Now I see the difference between editing and proof reading! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha - if we've shown one person that, then our work is done!!! Drives me nuts when I say that I edit my own books and people say, but you can't spot your own typos, etc, and I say, no, I know, I get them proofread, but I edit them myself.... or, similarly, when people want Julia to make changes, and she has to explain that that's the job of the editor...!

      Delete
  3. I have to say Julia, I *would* march into the establishment and demand them to explain their mistake! But that's just me and growing up with a mother would was a Prof. of English Lit for 30+ years.

    She actually did it. I saw her do it for the first time when I was about five and several times over the years I had to drag her away from a store before she could enter and "lay into them" for their misspellings and so on.

    Loved my mom dearly - she taught me to be a writer after all - but there were times...yeah, I'm sure you understand.

    But, in all seriousness, thank you very much for sharing what you do with us. I will join you on FB and the next time I need a PR, I will look you up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret, thanks for this! I have been known to tell people about mistakes in notices in shops, etc, too - yes, I'm that person holding up the queue on the market stall, explaining to the costermonger about how to use apostrophes!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Margaret - I'm sure your mother and I would have had a lot to talk about! I rang up Morrisons supermarket the other day and harangued some poor young man about a spelling mistake on one of their big, nationwide signs. They haven't done anything about it yet. I'll ring them up again.

      Delete
    3. Julia, Terry, and Margaret. Please continue proofreading. Misuse of apostrophes is an epidemic. They are more abused than prescription drugs:) Seriously!

      Delete
  4. Excellent post Julia. I'd just like to say that I actually do proofreading for publishers myself and also copy editing. So when I published my first book on kindle I was astounded when friends tactfully pointed out mistakes, when I'd already checked the book myself. It's quite bizarre, and I don;t understand why you can't see your own mistakes but you really cannot. I think your mind is racing ahead to how you put things, why you did this and that, and you cannot 'gear down' to the mechanics of getting the basic things right, your mind is on another plane. A magazine editor I work for said the same - she can't see her mistakes either. So there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of for admitting you need help. Julia helped me with my second book, and guess what? No embarrassing remarks or horrified glaring mistakes on the page. She even spotted that I'd called a minor character by two different names. Like a good cover for your book, p reading is something you really do need to invest in, and Julia's charges are very fair and she gets on fast.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post,Julia. I fully agree with your summary of what it takes to be a proofreader, and I have said for years (just ask any of my students) "You can't proofread your own writing."

    But even when proofreading other people's work, there are some who are naturally more talented at it than others. I think I'm pretty good at it, but I have to remind myself to double-check headlines and other large, obvious elements. If I miss something, it's almost always in large, bold type! Strange, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think maybe when something is in large, bold type, you can assume that you've read it when you haven't. And a proofreader also sees what they expect to see, so one must be vigilant all the time. It's fun, though, I love it.

      Delete
  6. I notice advertisements more when they are incorrect, I suspect some do it intentionally because there must be people like me who see something wrong and then actually pay attention, otherwise the ad would be just background graffiti on any given day.Bill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, I don't think they do it intentionally, I think they're just thick! I've just noticed another one in my local supermarket, but have refrained from haranguing them as I don't want to become a mad old lady (too late?!).

      Delete
  7. diet foods claims you will lose weight once you start to eat like a cave man than the fast food diets of the
    21st century. This is because fish have been consumed for humans for
    thousands of years for it to fully evolve.

    Here is my blog post: paleo diet delivery

    ReplyDelete
  8. Julia,
    Thanks for sharing. You certainly seem to know your stuff. I occasionally need some extra help with proofreading for clients (mostly student essays and theses) so I've added you to my list of contacts. Hope that's OK. Best wishes.

    Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much, Dianne, I appreciate that. I've recently proofread a thesis for a Doctor of Philosophy, although I mostly work on novels and short stories. Have a very nice day!

      Delete
  9. I completely agree. It's really hard to proofread your own stuff because as the writer you know what it's supposed to say, and that's what you'll see even if that's not what's there.

    And those are pretty low rates. Getting your book proofread is well worth the cost. Nothing is more embarrassing than having a typo quoted in a review of one of your books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kayci, thanks for reading and commenting. Oh yes, I cringe at some of my typos...

      Delete
  10. Good post. It is so very true that authors cannot see their own mistakes. EVERYONE should have proofreaders and editors. Even if I read every word aloud, I know there would still be errors that I wouldn't catch, even if they weren't typos.

    I have a question, Julia. Perhaps there is a difference between British English and American English in this regard, but you wrote "wrongly-assigned dependent clauses." It's my understanding that if a the first word of a compound adjective ends in "ly" it is not hyphenated. Would that be different in British English?

    Thanks!

    Amy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy, Julia is on holiday this week but I shall alert her to this :)

      Delete
  11. Thanks for the post Julia (and Terry). I took a copy editing and proofreading class a few months ago (as part of a creative writing program I'm in) and even though I aced it, I would never consider going at it alone. As you said, the author is too close to their own work to see what someone like you can. It was a helpful course to take though, as it gave me an appreciation for what you do (plus was a great refresher on all those grammar rules I had forgotten). All the best to you both.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The brass tacks of Syntax! Still haven't worked out whether commas go AFTER the quotation marks or BEFORE. (Must save up for Julia's help with my next manuscript.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Commas, and all other punctuation marks - always before quotations marks!

      Julia will discuss payment terms, ha ha! She's usually working about a month in advance :)

      Delete
  13. Thanks, Terry, for sharing Julia's valuable work! I will definitely look her up and have shared on FB :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Megan, that's really kind of you :)

      Delete
  14. I learned something tonight. I really never thought about the difference between an editor and a proofreader.
    I'm badly in need of a proofreader but can't afford anybody at the moment.
    Although my stories lack in the proofreading department. I give them the best editing I can before publishing. I agree with you, it's NOT enough. Still, I'm determined to make a go of my writing.
    Congratulations to you Julia, I'm very happy to hear of your success!
    Best wishes!

    -HF

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mr Fry, thanks for reading - have a word with Julia, you could perhaps pay in installments!

      Delete
  15. I learned something tonight. I really never thought about the difference between an editor and a proofreader.
    I'm badly in need of a proofreader but can't afford anybody at the moment.
    Although my stories lack in the proofreading department. I give them the best editing I can before publishing. I agree with you, it's NOT enough. Still, I'm determined to make a go of my writing.
    Congratulations to you Julia, I'm very happy to hear of your success!
    Best wishes!


    guest post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for reading. Honestly, proofreading is really worth it. You could always try putting a bit of money by each week, or talking to proofreaders about paying in installments. It makes all the difference between the work looking professional and amateur. If you really can't afford one, you could always get a friend to go through them for the price of a pint or two! Have a think about it :)

      Delete
  16. We have read so many books, and there are a huge number (a growing number, perhaps?) that could have done with some proofreading. Too many errors can really marr the overall reading experience, so what you do, Julia, is so important. It is then such a pleasure to read a novel without mistakes. And mistakes appear not only in self-published novels, but depressingly in the occasional novel from the bigger publishing houses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and commenting - you're so right, of course!

      Delete
  17. Fantastic post! I've set up payment plans with my editing and proofreading clients because I don't want them to skip such a crucial step because they think they can't afford it. And when they see what I've fixed, they thank me for it!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I write like I danced the hokey pokey in grade school, yes, I am that old, commas in, commas out, shake em all about. I worship a perfectionist with a red pen. Bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for the definitions of 'editor' and 'proof-reader', something I didn't know when I self-published my first book. I discovered several spelling mistakes in each of the three proofs I was sent to check, but my friends have tactfully pointed out several more that I failed to spot, including a change of name for a minor character. I will definitely come to you when I've finished the sequel.
    I had to laugh (or was that shudder) at a sign that was prominently displayed outside a hairdresser's shop the other day. It went as follows: Modle's Wanted.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great article. I've just started proofreading and found out very informative and concise. Thanks for sharing :-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for reading, Claire - Julia will be pleased!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Its been nice to read and i hope it will be useful for us..

    ReplyDelete
  23. Proofreading your work allows you to evaluate whether your writing has a complete and organized structure.


    Proofreading services

    ReplyDelete
  24. Can truly relate and retain this outstanding post. Very well written.thesis editing

    ReplyDelete
  25. I liked the article. Do you have to edit eight times before getting an editor for the book to check grammar also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is no hard and fast rule!!! But you need to make the book as good as you can possibly make it before sending it to either ~ believe me, I've heard what they say about people who don't!

      Basically, you just redraft and redraft until you think the book is as good as it can be - THEN get the professionals in to help you with the bits you can't do.

      Delete