Our thanks to novelist Brad Graber for this guest contribution!
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It seems like it should be a no-brainer. After all, who can possibly write a novel while they’re busy checking grammar, punctuation, and spelling? Certainly, not me. But as indie authors, we’re on a tight budget. So, is this really where we need to put our money? After all, how many mistakes can you really have in one little book?
So you hesitate.
Your best friend, spouse, and/or beta readers review the book. They’re all intelligent, well-educated people. How hard can it be to proof a book? Surely everyone pulling together should be able to get the job done. And they do seem to catch a fair share of problems. More errors than you imagined. Maybe you’re home free.
It takes a special expertise to proof a book properly. The ability to “truly see” the page. Someone with the skill of a copy editor, and the eye of an eagle, who can:
- Spot typos, grammatical errors, spacing, font size, and formatting issues
- Look up words that spellcheck might miss – including your incorrect use of a homonym
- Fact-check information
- Apply the Chicago Manual of Style rules
- Ensure consistency of terms, spelling, and capitalization
We’re only human – but talented proofreaders are superhuman.
After all of your edits and rewrites, you’ve more or less memorized the material, breezily reading along, oblivious to anything but the most obvious catches.
You’ve misspelled judgment. Too many e’s (but judgement looks so right!). You meant “pour” not “pore.” Your ellipsis needs another space… so that it … looks like this. You’ve omitted commas and goofed on the use of a semi-colon. And your confusion with “laid, lay, lain,” has your sentence reading like a tongue twister. These are just samples of the errors a talented proofreader will find loaded into the manuscript.
So how deep in your pocket do you dig?
That all depends on the talent you’re looking to buy.
In the world of the Internet – you can find anyone for any price (remember: we are still talking about proofreaders). So it makes good sense to rely on referrals from friends and colleagues. And before you pay for anything – make a personal contact by phone. You certainly don’t want to hire a resource in New Delhi who has been masquerading as Agnes from Iowa.
Scope of Work
Before money changes hands, agree on the “scope of work” to be performed. This is best documented in a letter which outlines clear expectations of: (a) when the project will start, (b) the work to be performed, (c) how corrections will be shared back to you, and (d) the expected deadline. Do not send a deposit for the work until you have this letter in hand. And do not pay for the project in its entirety until it is completed.
Yes, it’ll cost you – but it will be well worth the investment
You’ve hired a literary service to edit your book. They’ve counseled you on structure, point-of-view, character development and plotline. You’ve reworked the manuscript. Hours of writing and rewriting to get to “done.”
You’ve hired a cover designer. A professional who can give your book that added pizazz which makes everyone who walks by want to reach out and grab a copy.
Likewise, you need to have your book professionally proofread. A talented proofreader will be a critical partner on your self-publishing team.
And when you read through the final copy, which you’ll inevitably do, you’ll marvel at your creativity instead of cursing your misuse of their/there/they’re.
Brad Graber was born and raised in New York City. He obtained a B.A. in Biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an M.H.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. As a healthcare executive, Brad has held a number of management positions over the years. He’s lived in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago; West Bloomfield, a suburb of Detroit; and Mill Valley, a suburb of San Francisco. Brad currently resides in Phoenix on the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore with his long-term spouse and their dog Charlie. The Intersect is his first novel.