Q. Do I really need a proofreader for my book?
A. Yes. Proofreading extends to more than just spelling and punctuation, it also covers consistency, which is hard for an author to judge over many drafts and edits. It is nigh on impossible to proofread your own work. This is because you will always see what you intended to write, rather than what is actually on the page. Please see Rena George’s blog post What a Proofreader Does for an established author’s experience. If you are wondering whether your book is ready for proofreading, please take a look at my blog post Is My Novel Ready for Proofreading?
Q. Will I end up with a document covered in proofreading symbols?
A. Only if that is what you want. I use industry-standard mark-ups on hard copy when I proofread for publishers, but what generally works best for indie authors over the internet is for me to use Track Changes and Comments on a Word document (see next question).
Q. What format do you need my book in, and how do you send the proofs back to me?
A. The most usual format I deal with is MS-Word. I return two copies of the document, one with Track Changes visible (so you can see what changes have been made and reverse any changes selectively) and another copy of the same document with the changes accepted and just showing any author queries in the Comments. Once you are satisfied with the changes and have dealt with the Comments you have a document that is ready to go.
If you can only send me a hard copy or some other non-editable format such as pdf, I am happy to proofread and send back a marked-up hard copy or a list of corrections and queries with page and line references. In both cases you will have to arrange for the corrections to be made by yourself or a third party to an editable version of the manuscript.
I’m adaptable, so if the above is not good for you, we can look for a suitable method of getting the corrections back to you.
Q. Do you proofread onscreen?
A. When I receive your document I print it out, proofread and mark-up the hard copy. Next, I read it through a second time. This is the point where I double-check online for factual accuracy, for example, correct spelling of names of famous people and retail outlets. Following that I transfer all my corrections to the Word document using Track Changes. I then generate a document with the changes accepted and check it side by side with the Track Changes document to ensure that I’ve not introduced any errors in my mark-up. When I am happy that I have completed the proofread I send the final documents to you along with a style sheet listing things like words amended for consistency and decisions over hyphenation. My blog post What Does a Proofreader Actually Do with Your Book? provides more detail about this process.
Q. Do you ever make corrections with Track Changes off?
A. There are some global formatting corrections, such as removal of double spaces, which are best done with Track Changes off, as otherwise the main changes can get lost among all the redlining. Before implementation I will always clarify which changes will be done with Track Changes off and will adapt to your requirements.
Q. How long in advance do I need to contact you?
A. Ideally, please contact me at least two months before your preferred deadline. Being freelance my work fluctuates, and I get very busy at times. However, I am flexible and will try to fit in with any deadlines you have. If I’m not able to work to your timescale I will tell you immediately.
Q. How long would it take for you to proofread my book?
A. I would normally expect to send you the completed proofread within ten to fourteen working days from our agreed start date. Rest assured that once I’ve agreed a deadline I will endeavour to meet it.
Q. What if my manuscript isn’t ready when I thought it would be?
A. I do realise that some delays are unavoidable. If that happens, please don’t keep bad news to yourself, let me know as soon as possible. I will do my very best to accommodate you, but please remember that when I schedule a book for proofreading, it means I am turning down other clients. It is difficult for me to maintain my competitive rates if I’ve lost other jobs because an author’s schedule has fallen behind. It’s very important that you ensure you can definitely deliver a complete and finished manuscript to me by the date we agree. When I proofread a book I immerse myself in it, so offering to send the book in sections isn’t something that works for me.
While I do not charge extra for rescheduled work, it may have to fit in around other work, and so I can’t guarantee the original turnaround time.
Q. Why do your rates per thousand words go up as book length increases?
A. There is significant extra work in consistency checking as a book gets bigger, smaller books are much more manageable and are easier to schedule. For this reason I prefer proofreading shorter books and price accordingly.
Q. How do you handle invoices and payment?
A. I ask for a deposit up front (see Rates page), and on completion of the job I can send an invoice detailing the total cost and amount due. All of my income from freelance proofreading is declared to the UK taxman.