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The next level: hiring a freelance copy editor or proofreader

04 May 2016 12:28

If you’re an author planning to self-publish (or indeed submit your writing to an agent or conventional publisher), the editorial work your book will require is a part of the process.

To obtain quotes from freelance editorial service providers (and there are many of us out there), you might first approach a few with the word count of your book and the subject/genre. It’s helpful if you can also send (via email is fine) a few sample pages so that the amount of work that may need doing can be better quantified. Service providers should then be able to give you a quote, either based on an hourly rate or per number of words (for example, so much per 3000 words).

The quote will also depend on the service required. If the typescript of the book has been copy edited and any re-writing work done, then it’s a straightforward proofread that will be needed, which will aim to pick up anything that may have slipped through in the way of grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, as well as inconsistencies of style (use of hyphens, initial capitals, italics etc).

If, however, the manuscript is being sent fresh from writing, then a copy edit will be a more appropriate service as there may be some content, plot (if fiction), style and language issues that need to be addressed, and work required to the text generally to improve the flow. Do remember, though, that amendments can be suggested by the copy editor to help achieve the best possible final text, but in the main it will be up to you as the author to decide whether or not to choose to implement them.

Following amendments made after the copy edit, this is when the proofread will be required to pick up any outstanding errors, as already mentioned.

There is also something that’s come to be known as a proof-edit, which is a combination of the two services. The proofreader/copy editor will both proofread and copy edit the book as they go through it. I have done this quite a few times and it seems to work well. From your point of view as the author, it also means only having to look to hire one editorial service provider to carry out all the work.

For the self-publisher, once a book has been laid out by a designer (if that’s how you choose to proceed), it will then need another proofread as, in my experience, things can go adrift during the layout process – for example, italics and occasional spaces between words may disappear. It’s also another final check to make sure that nothing has been missed and that the layout itself is consistent, page numbers in the Contents reference the correct page numbers in the text, running heads are correct – basically it’s one last check of everything.

When you’re writing, inserting the final full stop isn’t the end of the job. It’s where the next level of work begins. Both copy editing and proofreading are necessary steps to ensure text is as near perfect as possible, so they are a vital investment, whether paid for individually or in combination.

And copy editors and proofreaders really do want you to make the most of your words – just as much as you do.