With self-publishing comes great responsibility. Whether you self-publish or go the way of an agent/publisher, you want to be sure your manuscript makes it to readers as cleanly as possible and makes sense from Chapter 1 through to The End.
Or perhaps you have an important corporate letter or a letter to the editor you want to send off? Maybe you are writing a school bulletin, family newsletter, or a web page for your new business?
Here’s a handy DIY – the third part in a four pack of proofreading and copy-editing tip lists.
Hiring a proofreader/copy editor
Planning – Start looking for a proofreader the minute you start your book or soon thereafter. Don’t decide you need a proofreader on Monday and hire one on Tuesday. Shop around. Ask other successful writers for recommendations.
Ask for Specifics – Ask the proofreader to outline exactlywhat they consider “proofreading” and “copy editing.” These differ significantly throughout the industry.
Put away the hatchet, please – When I proofread and edit for a client, I prefer to suggestchanges; I do not make edits for the writer. You should direct how the edits come to you or be amenable and agree to how the editing process works.
Research online – Look at the proofreader’s website, Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, and blog. Are they positive? Do they share tips and links? Are their online pages clean?
Stylebook – Ask them what style book(s) and references they use. If they hem and haw or say, “Oh, I don’t need those things,” run away.
Testimonials – Get testimonials or references and then look at the publications of the testimonials. Contact the people who have provided these testimonials.
Turn-around – Look at the turn-around time – if a proofreader says she’ll have your 100,000-word work of art back to you in two days, that’s just not gonna happen.
Contract – Sign a contract. I would caution that if the proofreader doesn’t use contracts, again, run away. Be sure you can accept the contract payment terms, turn-around time, cancellation terms, additional cost for phone consultations, etc.
NDA – Ask the proofreader to sign an NDA – non-disclosure agreement. You don’t want your hard work to end up in someone else’s book or in the proofreader’s e-book.
Have you worked with a professional proofreader or copy editor? What did you like and what did you NOT like about the experience?
2 responses to “Proofreading Four Pack, Part III ”
Your suggestions are spot-on, Karen! I have worked with two professional editors (you being one of them). In both cases, we established upfront exactly what was expected in terms of what the editor would do and what they would charge. There are several different kinds of editing, so it’s important to know what kind you want. You don’t want to pay for a developmental edit, for instance, if what you really need is a proofreader.
To affirm another important point you made, the best relationship between a writer and an editor involves some give and take. If an editor flags something and suggests rewording, it’s always a signal to me that I haven’t made myself clear and gives me the chance to see the passage through fresh eyes. Sometimes, though, I have reasons for leaving it the same. In all instances, I am a better writer from having had good editors.
I am so fortunate to have had some fabulous clients along the way. Each job I do teaches ME, too. And every time I work with my editor (Shawn MacKenzie), I learn a lot more. And flagging things doesn’t mean I insist the writer change it, just that he/she should consider it. After all, the final product is from the writer’s perspective, experience, and feelings. You are part of the story. And like I tell all clients, re: my advice – “Take it or leave it.”