Journey to Publication: Proofreading

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I ummed and ahhed about whether to get my manuscript proofread. I’ve been running Sarah Jules Writing Services for almost four years now, so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about proofreading! The thing is, proofreading your own writing is actually very difficult because you know what you meant to write, and so that’s how your brain reads it. The read-aloud function on MS Word is a godsend, but I didn’t feel it was quite enough. As an add-on here, for those of you who haven’t used the read-aloud function on Word, you’re missing a trick. It reads the document aloud to you and you, therefore, are able to catch a lot more errors.

I knew I didn’t need a copy-edit or anything that in-depth. I just needed somebody to do a final read-through and spot any errors that I missed. A proofread. People tend to get copy-editing and proofreading confused, which is fair enough. When you enter the world of writing, there’s loads of jargon to deal with.

A copy-edit ensures that the manuscript is formatted correctly. It involves checking for spelling, grammar and consistency errors. It also covers making deeper (sometimes stylistic) edits to improve the readability of the manuscript.

A proofread is undertaken on a ‘completed’ manuscript. Ideally, there should be no (or very few) actual errors for a proofreader to catch. It is, in essence, the final check of the document.*

*I often get asked to proofread manuscripts for clients and when I ask to see the document, it is very rare that they’re ready for a proofread.

I saw a great quote on Scribe Media that said, ‘Copyeditors catch all the mistakes the author missed. Proofreaders catch all the mistakes the copyeditor missed.’[1] And, always, some pesky errors make it into the final book! We’re human beings, we’re not perfect, and sometimes we miss things.

Back to my manuscript…

I did all the right things. I did my own copy-edit, got feedback from beta-readers, and proofread the document as many times as I could without wanting to throw my laptop across the room. And then I went in search for an actual proofreader. Now, I’ve worked through the platform for nearly four years, so I know that there are some incredible professionals available through the platform (myself included: I came across this profile… Susan Keillor1 and knew that she was the one for me. She found more errors than I would like to admit, and did an incredible job.

The manuscript I received back from Susan was clean and tidy, with no errors (we hope, please let me know if any have sneaked through). I feel confident that what I am putting out into the world shows my story in the best light.

The moral of this story…

If you can, hire a proofreader. If you need an editor, hire an editor. * I’m always available for copy-edits and proofreads, give me a shout. *  You want to put the highest quality work out there. I do understand that this isn’t always a viable option. Let me tell you, I understand the struggle of deciding whether it is worth it to spend money on an editor/proofreader. If you can, it’s worth it. If not, download Grammarly, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. Use the read-aloud function on Word. Rope in friends or family to read through the manuscript for you. Try to find a willing beta-reader. None of these options are infallible, but they’re better than nothing at all.

Once I had the proofread manuscript, I felt more than ready to start the next phase of my self-publishing journey… Formatting!

Thank you for your support, as always.  I love hearing from you so please do comment or get in touch with any questions or stories about your self-publishing experience.


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