It can be hard as an author to have someone else proofread your work, but trust me when I say having a professional proofreader look over your work before publication is imperative.
Even I, a former professional proofreader, published author, AND teacher of one of the most popular courses on general proofreading, still need proofreaders to review my writing. I always have at least two other people proofread my work before it goes out into the world.
Since it can be stressful to see your writing in the hands of someone else, you want to make sure you’re hiring only qualified professionals to be a part of your team.
However, this begs the question of what makes a good proofreader, and how do I find them for my book? Also, the more I talk with authors, the more I realize that many are confused about what proofreading really is, and how it is different than copyediting or regular editing.
So, in this article you’ll learn:
• What proofreading is (and isn’t!)
• What’s the difference between copyediting and proofreading
• Ways to find qualified proofreaders
• How you can become a professional proofreader and earn money on the side
Table of contents
- So, What Exactly is Proofreading?
- Is Proofreading the Same as Copyediting?
- Proofreading vs Copyediting vs Editing
- Where to Find Professional Proofreading Service
- Want to Become a Proofreader On the Side?
- Let’s Do This!
Note from Dave: In this article, Caitlin talks about her course, General Proofreading: Theory & Practice™, so if you see a link, know that it is an affiliate link. I approved this because I’ve personally checked out the course and talked with those who implemented it themselves and found a lot of happy users with great success stories.
So, What Exactly is Proofreading?
At its most basic, proofreading is the review of a final draft before it’s published. That means the proofreader is doing one last quality check and looking for things like typos, grammatical errors, spelling, punctuation, and formatting issues. The proofreader is the last set of eyes before the author finalizes their book and uploads it to book retailers and aggregators.
Is Proofreading the Same as Copyediting?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: There is a lot of confusion out there about proofreading versus copyediting. One of the biggest misnomers is that proofreading and copyediting are the same thing. They’re not! It's not unusual for authors to ask for a proofreader but actually need a copyeditor first. If you’re an author and you want words changed or sentence structure fixed, that is NOT proofreading — that’s copyediting.
Still confused? Let’s break down the differences!
Proofreading vs Copyediting vs Editing
Copyeditors get into the nitty-gritty of your book to make it as grammatically correct as possible. They also help with rewriting, clarity, flow, word choice, and fact-checking. Copyeditors can tell when you’re overusing punctuation or repeating certain words and can help you correct it. They can even help with organization and provide feedback on overall style.
Proofreaders are the final set of eyes that check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos to polish your work. They’re taking what’s on the page (not adding or deleting anything) and making sure it’s as error-free as possible.
In theory, the copyeditor should work on a book only after the actual story, characters, and plot have been finalized by a content editor, and the proofreader should work on a book only after the copyeditor has worked their magic.
Think of it like building a house. The editor builds the foundation and framework; the copyeditor installs the floors and walls; the proofreader does the final touches and furnishes the house. You can’t furnish a house before you build the framework, right?
It’s the same when working on a book. Make sense?
This graphic isn’t to say that every author needs to have all three (or more). Many of us do NOT have the funds to be able to adequately hire so many professionals. Even Dave only hired a proofreader for his first book because he couldn’t afford an editor and a copyeditor. Instead, this graphic is just to stratify the differences in the three and help authors understand who you need if you were to hire one.Does your book need a rock solid foundation or a paint touch-up? #editing vs #proofreadingClick To Tweet
Where to Find Professional Proofreading Service
Now that you know the differences between editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders, and you know you really should have a proofreader look at your book before you publish, how do you find one that’s qualified for your project but doesn’t break the bank?
The truth is, there are many places to find proofreaders. The hard part is figuring out how to find qualified proofreaders. Luckily, I’ve got some great resources for ya 😉
There are some agencies out there that claim to do this, however, you’ll find that they don’t let you directly work with the proofreader. That’s why it’s important you find one that you can develop a relationship with so you can work together as a team.
So, to help you find a qualified proofreader, here are a few places you can look:
Proofread Anywhere Students
Each and every one of these proofreaders has gone through my rigorous training AND passed a final exam to prove their competency. They know their stuff and are ready to work with you on your manuscript!
Here is a list of my best students, their specialty, and their website:
Proofreading Service Providers
|PROOFREADER||SPECIAL EXPERIENCE / BACKGROUND|
|Myriah C. Boudreaux||Catholicism, Homeschooling, Writing, Music Reviews|
|Laura Clark||Politics, Radiologic Technologies, child rearing|
|Lovinia Dickens||Academic Research, Musical terminology|
|Rachel Jones||Graphic design and website creation|
|Edee Lemonier||Literary fiction, science fiction, poetry, short stories, essays, full-length manuscripts (75k+ words)|
|Nancy Maffia||Light editing, horticulture, plant identification, nature study|
|Jennifer Navarre||Education, writing, government, children's literature, ESL/ELL|
|Khelsea Purvis||Picture Books, Comic Books, and Graphic Novels|
|Jody Skinner||Music literature/notation, general nonfiction, fiction, university papers, spiritual growth & Bible studies|
|Catherine Turner||Nonfiction proofreader and copyeditor for self-publishing authors, bloggers, and online entrepreneurs. Genres include true crime, entrepreneurship, online business, travel, and self-help.|
|Julie Weller||Teaching English (high school and university)|
|Beth Wojiski||Legal documents, newsletters, training/documentation & technical materials|
|Mara Woosley||Websites, blogs, marketing materials, newsletters, short stories & research papers|
|Ebook Launch||Every genre of fiction and nonfiction|
Are you curious to hear Caitlin & Dave's conversation about how proofreading can help your book and you as an author?
Join their coffee chat below.
Podcast Episode: Proofreading For Your Book
I think Upwork and Fiverr sometimes get a bad rap because there are SO many freelancers on there. But it is possible to find a great proofreader if you take the time to narrow down your search. If you do decide to use one of these, be sure to check any books listed that they’ve done and look at the reviews. If they don’t have any reviews or they have worked on books that have negative reviews for grammar, then move on.
If you do decide to hire someone from here, here are a couple of articles that will help you become a Ninja at this:
• 10 Tips to Source and Hire the Best Freelancers Online
• A Guide to Finding an Editor on Fiverr
• Top-Rated Freelance Proofreaders on Upwork
Editorial Freelancers Association
The EFA is a great resource for both authors and proofreaders. The Member Directory is a great place to search for proofreaders that have the specific skills and experience authors are looking for. Authors can also post ads for their projects on the Job List and have proofreaders contact them directly to apply for the gig. You can check out both resources on the EFA’s website.
Colleagues/Word of Mouth
If you know any authors (either in person or virtually), ask them for a recommendation. There’s no better vote of confidence than someone who has already worked with a proofreader and can vouch for their skills.
Want to Become a Proofreader On the Side?
Many authors have a knack for proofreading already. Some of us are just wired for it. So, if you’re interested in learning how to not only provide proofreading service but create a side gig that helps make some side income, then be sure to check out my course, General Proofreading: Theory and Practice™.
In my course, I teach not only the skills needed to become a great proofreader, but I also teach how to find (and keep) clients. Marketing is such a huge component of any freelance business, so I make sure my students have all the tools they need to be successful in the industry. They know how to work with author preferences and can proofread your
baby book like a pro.
Plus, there are a lot of benefits to being a proofreader, other than making a couple thousand a month on the side. Through this side job you can:
• Develop connections with other authors in your genre that can help you when you launch your next book
• Gain a better grasp of your genre and the different writing styles
• Get books for free in your favorite genre
• And more!
(If you want to learn more about becoming a work-at-home proofreader, watch my free 45-minute workshop. No risk and all reward!)Ever been called the 'Grammar Police?' Embrace your inner word nerd and turn it into a legit side hustle #proofreading #grammarnerdClick To Tweet
Let’s Do This!
So, now that you understand what proofreading is and where it fits into the whole writing process, and how to find excellent proofreading service, be sure to implement this service at the right time and for the right cost.
It can really help with your book, its success, and your legitimacy as an author.