Careful proofreading is essential to ensure that a book is accurate and consistent. Every book published by a traditional publishing house is professionally proofread at least once, and authors who want to succeed need to pay the same attention to quality. Your Aunt Margery may be great at spotting typos in the newspaper, but she’s a long way off being at the level of a trained proofreader.
Working with a proofreader gives you peace of mind that you haven’t missed any ‘embarrasing erors’ in your book. We proofreaders are eagle-eyed, we’re sticklers for consistency and we can sniff out a misplaced apostrophe at 20 paces.
Remember, as a proofreader I’m not here to judge – everyone makes mistakes. But readers do judge, which is why professional proofreading is important to your reputation as an author.
Why work with a proofreader?
First things first: every author needs a proofreader. No matter how many times you’ve read and reread your book, I can guarantee you’ve missed mistakes because:
- You’re too close to the material. Strange but true – when you’re very familiar with material, you get blind spots. You know what’s there, so you fail to read exactly what’s on the page and you miss errors. A proofreader has fresh (and trained) eyes.
- You don’t realise that a mistake is a mistake. Few authors are experts at spelling, punctuation and grammar. But it’s a proofreader’s job to know all the ins and outs of the English language.
Working with a proofreader is an essential part of the publishing process. Typos and grammar slips are extremely off-putting, and they undermine your image as a talented, professional author. If you’re serious about your book (ebook or print, self-published or traditionally published) then you need to take proofreading seriously too.
My proofreading service
Proofreading is the very last stage in the editorial process – the final check-through before the text is published. In a publishing house, the proofreader checks the book after it has been copy-edited and laid out, to catch the odd few mistakes that have slipped through the net or been introduced by the typesetter. So the book should already be in good shape when it lands on the proofreader’s desk. My proofreading service is therefore for books that are close to a publishable standard. Some authors naturally write at this level, but most need to commission a copy-edit first to tidy up the text.
I proofread books in UK English and US English. As I go through a book, I check:
- Spelling, punctuation and grammar: Is it accurate? Are spelling and punctuation style choices consistent? Are there any missing or extraneous words and punctuation marks?
- Styling: Are aspects of style like capitalisation and italicisation handled consistently throughout?
- Numbering: Are pages and chapters numbered sequentially?
- Cross-references: Does the table of contents align with chapter titles and section headings? Do footnotes/endnotes correspond correctly to references?
- Basic formatting: Are there any stray indents or spaces? Are straight quote marks mixed in with curly ones? In typeset books, are word and page breaks sensible (no ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’)?
As I proofread, I’m not looking to improve the writing style. I’m just looking for the black-and-white issues in the book and correcting them.
I proofread in the following formats:
- Microsoft Word document: Marked up using the Track Changes tool in Microsoft Word.
- PDF document: Marked up using the highlight and comment tools in Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Paper proofs: Marked up using the British Standards Institution’s proof-correction marks.
Please note: My proofreading service involves checking the book once only. Should you make significant alterations to your text following the proofread, you may need a second round of proofreading to ensure accuracy and consistency. Therefore, it’s best to supply your absolute final draft to your proofreader wherever possible.