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Do you REALLY know what you need or what you’ll get when you solicit an editor or proofreader?

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

So you’ve just finished writing your book and you’re planning to publish it yourself, or to shop it to publishing companies. Great! Now it’s time to have your work proofread; or should you be getting it edited? Wait a minute, aren’t those the same thing? NOPE!

When you hire someone to proofread, or edit your work, you should be very clear on what you’re hiring someone to do, and what to expect. Why? Because you should know what you’re paying for, and what to expect? Personally, there are few things that are more annoying than a person who complains about not getting what they ordered because what they ordered was the wrong thing or they expected more than what was promised in the first place.

Okay so here is a basic run down of the differences:

Editing– by definition is “preparing written material for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it.” Even more important, there are 2 types of editors:

  1. Content Editing

  2. Plot discrepancies, Logic, Language style

  3. Inconsistencies and contradictions like: If a character stated they were in New York for their birthday, but later in the book the character says how much they enjoyed spending their birthday in Paris.

  4. Copy Editing

  5. Punctuation, Spelling, Omissions and Capitalization

  6. Continuity, Fact checks and Clarity like:“Mark me to get him something cause he’s thirsty.” Corrected: “Mark asked me to get him a drink because he’s thirsty.”

Proofreaders– by definition is “reading over written material for errors.” Ideally, when you proofread (or hire a proofreader), it should entail the following:

  1. Grammatical errors

  2. Typos

  3. Word omissions

  4. Word duplications

  5. Word Inconsistencies like: “Ya’ll don’t know what you’re talking about.” and “Y’all need to sit down.” There are two different ways to spell the same word.

  6. Page numbers and placement

  7. Chapter names and pages fit content

It seems like a lot of these things overlap doesn’t it? If you’re correcting plot inconsistencies, shouldn’t you also correct omissions and catch word duplications? Maybe. Many times editors will perform more than one duty by nature, but if they are focusing on their specific area, they may not catch errors typically allocated to other areas.

Wow! This whole editing/proofreading thing isn’t as simple as it seemed huh? What’s worse, is I’ve only touched on the basics of what each duty entails. Hey I’m just acting as a catalyst for this information to give you a jump-start. You and I both probably wish I was an expert on this subject right now so it would be easily simplified right? That’s probably why hiring an editor and/or proofreader is usually very costly. Especially if your genre requires traditional writing techniques.

If however; you don’t choose to use one or more of these sources before publication or shopping to publishing houses, and want to do it yourself, I suggest the following?

  1. Outline characters, timelines and story plots

  2. Spell check your documents thoroughly

  3. Read aloud because you’re likely to hear and catch errors and omissions when reciting as opposed to reading silently.

  4. Have at least one other person whose reading abilities you trust, read and check for errors behind you.

  5. Read it over again at least twice! (Sometimes it can be like watching a movie for a 2nd or 3rd time where you notice something you didn’t notice the 1st time you saw it)

Well, that’s all I got!

Good luck!

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