Step 8 – Enlisting the help of a proofreader

What does a proofreader do?

Proofreaders are the not just grammar police. They carefully check the “proof copy” for errors such as:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar (misplaced, incorrectly used, or omitted punctuation)
  • Typos
  • Formatting (including page numbers, line spacing and indents)
  • Inconsistencies
  • Duplicated words or sentences

These are things that have been scrutinised by all your editors. But they come under the remit of a proofreader to catch the final ones.

At this stage, having already paid professional editors, you’d would think your manuscript is 100% perfect. But you’d be wrong in most cases. Despite a few rounds on the editing desk, there is a high possibility that your book has an error or two hiding between the pages.

In the first print of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone (Sorcerer’s stone in the U.S.), there was a misprint. Harry’s shopping list looked like this:

Proof reading self-edit indie-author
Proof reading self-edit indie-author

It must’ve been infuriating for J.K Rowling and her publisher when this was spotted. They probably went straight to book to fix the mistake. However, thanks to her success with the series, the few copies that are left in circulation are worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Choosing a proofreader

Not every proofreader will handle fiction. Some cater for academic papers, others will work on non-fiction, so please do your research to make sure your chosen professional works in your area.

Skill needed to be an effective proofreader

A proofreader will have a tremendous focus. When reading your novel, they will not only digest the story to make sure it makes sense, they will also be paying close attention to all the things listed above.

Therefore, hiring a professional is a better choice than asking a friend. Although your friend/family member might be great at spotting errors, they risk getting engrossed in your narrative.

How they give feed back

On a physical copy, a proofreader will mark the corrections with specialized markings. On a digital copy, they will use tracked changes. They do not re-write or offer revisions. They merely show the author where the error is.

How much does a proofreader cost?

Prices in this field have a wide range and quotes can be between £5-£25 ($7-$35) per 1000 words, but some might go higher.

Some proofreaders will quote by the hour and others will go by wordcount. Again, check this before you commit to a contract.

This will include reading and providing written feedback.

Don’t think that because it takes you four hours to read a book, that a proofreader will do it in the same amount of time. They aren’t trying to get through the book to save you money. They are reading it carefully to catch mistakes.

Be prepared to pay for a professional service. Their work is their reputation.

Do I have to pay for a proofreader?

You could go and hire a professional at this point, or you could enlist the help of friends and family. But I caution you against the latter option.

Hiring a proofreader is worth every penny. Although friends and family might be able to spot a hidden mistake here and there, they are not trained to look for them. And that means they could become too engrossed in the story to notice errors.

However, if you do decide to save some money and forego a professional, I recommend asking several people to proofread for you. The more, the merrier at this stage. The more eyes you get on your pages, the more likely they are to find the last few problems.

The thing to remember when making this choice is this: how successful do you want your book to be?

I prefer to invest in my books and will always hire a pro.

Where can you find a proofreader?

Anyone who enjoys reading can be your proofreader. They must have a good understanding of the language, be extremely attentive, and enjoy reading. But if you go down this route, you shoulder ask several people to ensure you cover all the bases.

Should you choose a professional, a quick Google search will generate a list of proofreaders in your area.

Be careful about paying for a service up front. Some websites display attractive prices to draw indie-authors in. They know that we are working to a budget. But there are plenty of scammers out there who will ask for an up-front payment, and never provide a service.

HERE is a good place to start for proofreading services in the UK. And HERE for the USA.

Remember to research anyone you intend to hire.

Finally

Proofreaders are NOT copy editors. If you think you need a copy editor, check THIS link to read about them.

And remember, this is your manuscript. You are about to release it to the world. Be sure to give it the best possible start by giving it a good proofread be publishing.

Good luck

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