Careful proofreading is essential to ensure that a book is accurate and consistent. Every book that goes through a publisher 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 book proofreader.
Working with a professional 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.
First things first: every author needs a book proofreader. No matter how many times you’ve read and re-read your book, I can guarantee you’ve missed mistakes because:
Working with a book 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 book proofreading seriously too.
Proofreading is the very last stage in the editorial process – the final check-through before the text is published.
The book proofreader looks at two areas as they read:
Please keep in mind that it is the proofreader’s job to check a manuscript that has already been carefully edited. The proofreader does not undertake any editing; that is down to the copy editor. The proofreader should find only a few mistakes that have slipped through the net. If your book contains more than the odd mistake, you need to commission copy-editing rather than proofreading.
I use Microsoft Word’s Track Changes tool when I proofread to mark up my suggested amendments. The marked-up file for proofreading looks like this:
With Track Changes, you keep complete control of your book. You can clearly see my mark-up, and then choose for yourself which changes to accept or reject.