Proofreading is the third and
final stage of editing for publication, taking place after a copy-edited typescript has been typeset to produce a proof copy of the printed book.
The proofreader carries out a line by line, character by character, check of the proof copy for last-minute typographical errors and omissions, before publication takes place.
Proofreading is an important part of the editing process, as mistakes can be missed (or even created) during copy-editing and typesetting.
Common errors are transposed characters, a mismatch of quotation marks, incorrect or missing punctuation, extraneous spaces, pagination errors, hyphenation errors, and the spelling mistakes that always manage to slip through during the other stages!
How I work: When working on a self-publishing project, I contract out the proofreading to a colleague who is a professional proofreader. However, I do request two proof copies of the printed book: one for myself and one for the proofreader, on the premise that two heads are better than one! In traditional publishing, proofreading can be carried out multiple times, but this is not viable when working with independent authors. Even so, I want my client's novel to be the best it can possibly be. Not only do we work on the interior text but also check the cover. Any queries or errors that have been marked up on the proof copy of the book by the proofreader are returned to me to check through. I then pass these to the typesetter for amendment. Afterwards, rather than produce another proof copy of the book, I check a digital typeset proof copy onscreen to ensure that corrections have been carried out.
How long will it take? Again, this is dependent on word count. Allow between one and three weeks for proofreading. Bear in mind that it is rare for a first proof to arrive back unscathed! There will be markup, and very likely some queries.
How much will it cost? This depends on how the proofreader charges for their time. It will either be based on word count, or set as an hourly fee. Proofreading usually costs less than copy-editing. For any work I carry out during the proofreading stage, I charge an hourly fee of £10.
What happens next? Once proofreading is complete, and both the interior and the cover of the proof copy is updated, the book is ready for self-publishing!
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