If you have been writing for a while – professionally or as a student – the topics of proofreading and copy-editing would have popped up at least once.
Copy-editors work hard to ensure that everything written is consistent and easy for a reader to digest. Where a writer or spell-check program might have missed something simple such as a misspelt word or a grammatical error, the copy-editor will come in and fix them. However, responsibility for the other harder tasks copy-editors perform remain the writer’s or publisher’s. If there is a legal issue or a questionable opinion is reflected in the text, a copy-editor will highlight the issue with the writer but do not have a responsibility to handle it. For more information, visit this site.
THE PROOF IS IN THE READING
The proofreader’s job is to check up on everything before the final print. They make sure the editor and typesetter have performed their roles properly. They will compare the original and the edited copies line by line and ensure there is nothing that needs to be amended before printing. For more information, visit this site.
WHY DO WE NEED THEM?
I’ve read many self-published books where it was clear no one had either copy-edited or proofread the text or formatting. Many self-published writers are great but they are not editors. Even the best writer is unable to accurately proofread their own work.
Proofreaders and copy-editors are separate from the texts. The characters aren’t based on loved ones and their motives are to produce a marketable product. As writers, we all grow attached to great one-liners and subplots. While they sound good at first, they can end up on the cutting room floor because they just don’t fit the theme or voice of the text.
Don’t get me started on essays. Students aren’t allowed copy-editors, but many professionals study their fields and write a paper. You don’t think that Mr. Scientist knows how to use proper grammar? He didn’t study English, his specialty is in science. So he has to hire a copy editor and proofreader to help him inform the world of his studies.
HOW TO GET ONE
When you’re starting out with writing and you have little to no pennies to pay the top bucks to hire a proofreader, share your writing with friends. It was encouraged in university to ‘peer proofread’ where we would share our writing with a group. This could be in a workshop or in private. You might not have lots of English students to help you, but most people have a teacher, friend or family member they trust. As they are separate from your story, they can read through and annotate your story or essay with little issue.
However, they know you so might hold back when they are supposed to be as honest as possible. I know I had this issue when starting out on here. I didn’t want to upset Laura, but now? We both understand that the reader is more important than either of us.
If you have a few pennies, you can dig the internet and find a freelance copy-editor or proofreader. Their prices can vary greatly based on their time constraints and experience. This is as risky as getting a commission from an artist, but the results will be better overall than the first option.
Before paying for a freelance proofreader or copy-editor, look at their portfolio. Get as much proof as possible that they are well-suited to your genre and style. But always get a written contractual agreement. This can be as simple as emails. In the freelance world, these are necessary when money is on the line (especially with some of the prices you can find).
And finally, you can hire a professional. Their costs are often a lot higher than any of the other options, simply because they offer a lot more. Companies will have lots more legal knowledge and will likely be more dedicated. This is their nine to five job, while freelancers and family members have to make money elsewhere.
Have you got any other tips and information on proofreading and copy-editing? Is there a topic on self-publishing you’d like me to research for you and discuss?