Proofreading and Editing - DIY?
If you’re a writer, you know the importance of proofing and editing your work…or should. Creating the very best story you can is your first task as a writer. Proofreading and editing are a secondary but essential part of that job.
Many think “proofreading” and “editing” are interchangeable terms. They’re not. While both are part of the revision process, each focuses on different aspects of writing.
Editing deals with content, clarity, style and structure. That sounds pretty straightforward, but given the same manuscript, editors often disagree on their recommendations—the result of personal taste and interpretation. Editing, therefore, is somewhat subjective.
So who should edit your work? You could certainly ask family members and friends for their opinions but, considering a relationship is at stake, are they more likely to be candid or kind? You may want to look for a professional editor to “kick you in the shins”, so to speak. Your ego might get bruised, but your writing will benefit, and your personal relationships will still be intact!
If you go with professional editing, don’t close your eyes and throw a dart at a list of editing services. Ask others about their experiences and make an informed decision before choosing your editor. Also, be aware that rates vary. Some editors charge per word, others may charge in some other fashion. Occasionally time constraints and other factors affect the cost as well. Do some checking.
Compared to editing, proofreading is the more objective process. Proofreading consists of a methodical search for punctuation and grammar errors, misspellings, typos, and missing words. The process is tedious but crucial. Presenting a carefully proofed story, essay, or book says the writer takes pride in his/her work and respects the readers.
If someone points out that 1 + 1 = 3 is incorrect, there should be no cause for hurt feelings. The same should be true of proofreading catches. For that reason, getting help from friends and family shouldn’t put those relationships at risk as editing does. But—and it’s a big
(Ha!)—make sure the person you ask for help is qualified to do the job. (Yous
guys don’t want no grammar mangler doing the job, know what I’m sayin’?) If you
don’t have a qualified person tucked away somewhere, spending the money for a professional
proofreader is a sound investment.
Like editing, the prices for proofreading services vary greatly. Some proofreaders charge per book, others per page and/or turnaround time. As in the case of editing, researching the cost and asking for recommendations is helpful.
Keep in mind that language and punctuation rules are continually evolving. What your proofreader calls an error may be your idea of “personal style”. It’s your call, but remember that you’re paying for the professional input. Creeeak! (That’s the sound of the fence you’ll be straddling while you decide whether to go with their opinion or your own.)
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