Any seasoned author knows the value of a good proofreader. The final intentional read of a novel, dissertation, or other long manuscript, by a fresh set of eyes, provides the professional polish required of a NYT bestseller.
But is proofreading a luxury reserved for veterans hoping to land on bestseller lists?
The truth is, every author needs a proofreader–especially first timers and independent writers without a robust publishing team. Let’s look at exactly what proofreading is, and consider the benefits of delegating that job to a professional.
What does a proofreader actually do?
You absolutely need a fresh set of eyes at the finish line of your writing project. At a minimum, your proofreader examines the text carefully for capitalization, punctuation, and spelling errors. In addition, she affirms details such as correct pronouns and consistent verb tenses. And speaking of consistency, your proofreader will verify that your style–spaces after chapter titles, method of identifying breaks within chapters, or chosen use of dashes, em dashes, and en dashes, for example–remains the same throughout.
Proofreading adds a professional touch
Proofreading is at once the simplest and most responsible part of the editing process. On one hand, it’s just a quick read, and in the best scenario it reveals only a sprinkling of minor errors. On the other hand, this is the last opportunity to catch stray keystrokes, extra page breaks, dropped periods, and more. Those few errors represent the difference in credibility between a self-published story designed to be handed out to a few friends and family, and a legitimate novel with an audience reaching far beyond one’s personal circle.
A proofreader gives peace of mind
Once you send your manuscript off to the proofreader, then you can actually sleep in advance of the publication deadline. When the proofed copy comes back, you will have your own fresh eyes to pass through one more time as you approve the fixes. And then it’s done!
You may be concerned about the cost, but the reality is that your project will carry far more value with this small presentation touch-up. And sometimes professional proofreaders run specials to help encourage you past that block. Planning ahead gives you the best opportunity to take advantage of discounts. My specials are announced on my Facebook page.
As you power your way to the finish line of your writing project, plan on hiring a professional proofreader. Proofreading is not an admission of sub-par writing skill. It is not a sign of weakness that you couldn’t finish the project under your own steam. And it definitely is not a job invented for the express purpose of soaking your hard-earned profits away from you.
Rather, a proofreader’s job is to make you look good; your upfront investment will pay off dividends in the long run.