hire a professional proofreader to ensure your book is the best it can be

Most writers and authors know that hiring a professional editor is an important part of the process, and one that should not be scrimped on or ignored. But many writers don’t realize the importance of hiring a professional proofreader to ensure that every small grammatical technicality is perfect, that there are no spelling errors and that your book will be the best it can be. A proofreader should be the final step before your book goes to print.

hiring a proofreader

I’ve asked Bev Phillips, a good friend of mine who is a professional proofreader, to write a guest post on why proofreading (and editing in general) is so important to the book publishing process. Please welcome Bev to our virtual community, and enjoy her post.

Bev-Phillips talks about hiring a proofreader

Bev Phillips serves the writing community under the name of Proofreaders Plus

why hiring an editor is not an optional expense

by Bev Phillips

You’ve spent years and lots of money working on your book – researching, writing, rewriting, designing, printing, marketing. But without an editor, your finished product may contain annoying errors that will stop people from ever reading it.

Errors are distracting and infuriating to readers. At the very least, they diminish your credibility.

How bad can it be? I have bought self-published books that contained hundreds of errors: incorrect grammar, bizarre capitalization, words that change spelling and punctuation from page to page, misused vocabulary, and others too numerous to list here. That’s not even mentioning obvious factual errors.

I’m amazed that some authors spend so much time and money but omit the necessary step of using an editor.

Should you hire an editor? Yes!

First, understand what kind of editor you need. The main specialties are substantive, stylistic, copy editing and proofreading.

A substantive editor considers the overall manuscript, and can make suggestions like moving chapters around, focusing on one character or story line, and changing the voice or tone. A stylistic editor concentres on language. A copy editor or proofreader (the terms are often used interchangeably) works on a line-by-line basis, eliminating errors and inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and formatting for numbers and capitalization.

Authors and publishers dedicated to quality hire both types of editors. The substantive editor looks at the manuscript when it is fairly complete, but with plenty of time for changes before the publishing date. The copy editor looks at the final text, shortly before publication. (If you are tempted to keep making changes until the presses roll, remember that every time you make a change, new errors can creep in.)

Build about a month for the editing process into your book development timeline. That should allow time for the editor to complete one review, and the necessary back-and-forth discussion to clarify points and ask questions. Again, discuss with your editor how much time they expect to need.

How much does an editor cost? Most editors are freelancers and set their own rates. Generally editors charge by time, so the more work they do, the more they charge.

You can expect to pay at least $2,000 to $3,000 for a 60,000-word manuscript. You’ll pay more if the text is technical or challenging, or if your writing skill or command of English is below average, or if you’re aiming for a mass market.

The Editors’ Association of Canada explains types of editing duties and rates at http://www.editors.ca/.

You can find local editors and their specialties at the Manitoba Editors’ Association site: www.manitobaeditors.ca.

Your editor helps pave the road between you and your future readers. When you receive your editor’s comments, thoughtfully consider them. It can be hard to consider changing the precious text that you’ve put so much of yourself into, but your editor has an impartial fresh eye and detailed knowledge of the mechanics of language. Work together to create the best possible version of your book!

 Thanks so much to Bev for her thought-filled advice.

I have learned from the school of hard-knocks that an author must indeed hire both types of editors: the substantive editor to help massage the text and help with flow and accuracy. And the proofreader, who does exactly what the name implies:  read the finished product (printer’s proof) to ensure grammar, punctuation, and every detail is perfect before the manuscript goes to press and is printed.
Had I followed the advice of my substantive editor and hired a proofreader with the first print run of Chocolatour, I would have saved myself $300 on the second print run. Instead, we found there were 32 pages that needed very minor corrections because formatting had been inadvertently affected when the book was laid out by the designer. But now the second print run has been done, and the result is a picture-perfect manuscript in which I take great pride. If you haven’t already checked out Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate, you can order it on Amazon or via my own site.
Please share your own experiences with the editing and copyrighting/proofreading process. Bev is kindly standing by to answer any questions you may have.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

16 Responses

  1. Alex Marsh says:

    Proofreading is a must for any content. I also prefer hiring a proofreading expert because they can make our existing content a way better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really loved reading this.

  2. Great, Informative Post, like this one must be maintained so I’ll put this one on my bookmark list of Professional Proofreading Services. Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this. Have Great Day.

  3. Jeri says:

    As someone who is building a freelance editing book as well as write my first novel, I’m amazed at the variety of “editors” one can come across on the interwebs. Just out of curiosity, I’ve been contacting potential editors. The last one I chatted with charged $350 for “editing.” She even proudly asserted the fee included two reads. I asked if the first read was for content, and the other for copy, and she said no. Indeed. She’s going both at once, which makes no sense as they are completely different tasks. Still, many authors who want to self-publish don’t know any better and it can make it hard to compete with that. If I had money to throw around, I would hire a few bargain-basement ones just for a giggle. I’m sure I would get what I paid for 😉
    Jeri recently posted…Book Review: Rapunzel by Molly GreeneMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jeri. I was hoping you’d drop by to share your thoughts.

      Yes, there are definitely a ton on unqualified people offering both writing and editing services out there. I think that’s why Bev was stressing in her post that it’s best to look to professional associations and references from people one knows for the right editor. I found mine via a personal reference and knew that as she was a member of a national professional assn of editors that she possessed admirable credentials. I just wished I’d followed her advice and hired Bev to do the proofreading before we went to press. Live and learn!

  4. A.K.Andrew says:

    It ing is so important, and I envy people who have publishing houses who will see you through all the way. But of course to get to that position the work needs to be at the very least critiqued by peers and have beta-readers. I can’t imagine self publishing without have both a professional editor and proofreader. Thanks so much for the links. Very helpful.
    Doreen- great guest post. Happy holidays to you both:-)
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Is the Beginning of a Novel more important than the Ending?My Profile

  5. Phoenix says:

    Excellent suggestions by your guest blogger! My book, “Phoenix of Faith” was edited no less than four times over the ten years that it took me to write. Danika Dinsmore was much more than an editor. She was also a coach, as it was my first attempt at a book. Yes, I had a story to tell, but I was inexperienced. She knew I wanted to write my own story and I am truly thankful for her gentle encouragement and wonderful coaching skills. She is a middle-grade teacher and apparently just the perfect tutor to help me get my story out there! During the ten years of writing, I also completed a certificate course in Multimedia and Web Development, which helped me to self-publish and sell the book on my own website. So, if one has the knowledge and the where-with-all to do the writing and the layout, as I did, very good. But, the point I’m trying to make is that no matter how capable you are in your own right, never skimp on the editing/proofing process. I couldn’t agree more with Bev Phillips!
    Phoenix recently posted…Living HealedMy Profile

  6. Harry Hobbs says:

    What a great article, Doreen and it is so true, I’ve been to workshops where authors have said the biggest drawback to self publishing is the editing process. I have been blessed with a great content editor and a couple of editors – one associated with my publisher who found little mistakes like on page so and so the character has blue eyes and further on she has green etc. Self editing is okay but you are too familiar with your own work and can miss the obvious.

    Bev is bang on when she says that you lose credibility with the reader if you have errors and that applies to fiction as well especially if your novel contradicts a well know fact. for example if I were writing a novel about Lincoln and said he was shot in the Civil War then the reader will question my research and ever other premise of a book even when it is fiction.

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing this excellent post with our local writers group.

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Thanks for your comment, Harry, and absolutely do share far and wide! Invite your writer friends to subscribe to this blog. The more the merrier, as we all learn from one another. Merry Christmas to you, and all the best for 2014.

  7. Irene Gordon says:

    Hi Doreen & Bev,
    I certainly concur with your views re the importance of editing and proof reading. I have been really lucky with the editors and proof readers that my publishers have assigned to my books. Have you got any suggestions, Bev, for writers who find themselves unable to work with the editors assigned by their publishers?

    • Bev Phillips says:

      Excellent question, Irene. My suggestion is to stick to facts rather than opinions, and remember you are both working toward the same goal – an improved manuscript. Be very specific about disagreements – prose style, timelines, or whatever the problems are. Then you have something concrete to work with. As much as possible, refer to the publisher’s style guide and other publications. If it’s possible, ask the publisher to mediate, explain specific points and make recommendations. On another level, think about why the publisher matched you with this editor – did they think you would work together to produce a good product, or was it just chance? If all your efforts to collaborate fail, ask for a new editor.
      I urge you to give the arrangement a chance – there have been times when I had to work with someone I took an instant dislike to (and sometimes the feeling was mutual), but over time as we got used to working together, we grew to like each other. Life’s like that. Good luck!

  8. Linda says:

    The need for that final proofreading is so often over looked by authors. I think many editors work collaboratively with their favorite and most trusted proof readers so it should be a fairly seamless process. It is absolutely true that the very best editor is not a proof reader. Once the editor has read through the text multiple times, they become too familiar with it catch those pesky typos. And Bev is absolutely correct about pushing the proofreading back as far as possible because each change in text, no matter how small it seems, creates one more potential place for the misplaced period, comma, or who-knows-what.
    Linda recently posted…Icelandic HospitalityMy Profile

    • WizardOfWords says:

      Hi Linda: Yes, it took getting hit in the head with a brick for me to realize the difference in skills between an editor and proofreader, and that the proofreader is the one who gives the final OK to the finished (literary) product. That’s why I thought it was so important to ask Bev to write this post and bring it to the forefront of thought among the writing community. Cheers, and happy holidays.

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