There are a few different types of editing: developmental or structural editing, copy editing, line editing, and in earlier stages, concept editing. Most self-publishing authors will typically work with a different freelance editor to help them at each stage.
(In a recent blog post, I covered why it’s so important to hire an editor for your book if you’re planning to self-publish. You can read that post now by clicking here.)
Proofreading is the very final stage of the editing process. After your manuscript has been edited by professionals, a proofreader will give it one last read through to check for any typos, formatting errors, missing (or unnecessary) punctuation, and many other flaws that could distract your readers from the story.
A proofreader will only correct errors. A proofreader won’t adjust sentence structure or word choice (unless the word choice is incorrect), as this should have already been addressed in previous rounds of editing.
With that said, often when I’m proofreading a manuscript, I'll notice an area for improvement that falls outside my responsibility, so I'll try to help out by including a useful suggestion or two in the margin of your document. Bear in mind though, you shouldn't expect this of every proofreader!
Do I need to hire a professional to proofread my book?
A proofread should not take as long or cost as much as other stages of the editing process, but you still need to make sure you hire a trained professional to proofread your book.
Proofreading is a skill, just like any other type of editing. Without a good knowledge of style guides and how to proofread effectively, an inexperienced proofreader could introduce errors into your book that weren’t there before.
You need to be really careful to ensure your proofreader is trained and experienced, with satisfied reviews from past clients. (You can read reviews from some of my clients now by clicking here!)
It’s always worth asking for a sample proofread before you schedule anything in, so that you can be sure you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing and conducts themselves in a professional manner.
Can I hire a proofreader instead of an editor?
It’s not unheard-of for authors to try to save money by skipping out on an editor and contacting a proofreader straight away. While this is understandable, it’s really not wise.
A trained proofreader will know immediately if your book hasn’t been edited before you send it to them. In this case, they have every right to turn your book away and can refuse to work with you until the manuscript has been edited to a higher standard.
Don’t forget, a proofreader isn’t there to correct typos and grammatical errors in every single sentence. Our job is to catch those niggling, hard-to-spot errors that creep in during formatting or get missed by your editor in earlier rounds of editing.
Why is proofreading so important?
Every publishing house hires proofreaders to read through their books before sending them off to print, to ensure a good level of quality control in their finished products. For the same reason, professional self-publishing authors hire freelance proofreaders.
Proofreading is important because it adds a level of quality assurance to your book that is both essential and expected. Your readers view you as a professional, so it’s important to avoid any typos or mistakes that might suggest otherwise.
That’s not to mention, proofreading ensures clarity and helps you to deliver your message without any miscommunication. It’s the difference between a “peck on the lips” and a “pec on the lips” or any number of misleading errors!
Looking to hire a proofreader for your novel?
I’m a friendly freelance editor and proofreader working directly with self-publishing authors around the world. You can learn more about me by clicking here, but in short, I'm a member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and the Editorial Freelancers Association, I’m trained in proofreading and passionate about editing, and I’d love to help you achieve your self-publishing goals.
Please get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply use the contact form available on this website. I can’t wait to hear from you!
All images in this blog post were sourced from Unsplash.com.