Why proofreaders are a necessity and not a luxury

Okay so you have spent out on a professional editor. They have performed their grammatical alchemy on your manuscript and you’ve hired a cover designer to do your cover. Job done. Well, not quite. You still need a proofreader.

Proof reading Marks Example by Henry O courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/ouK1j6   https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

You’ll look at your dwindling bank account and think is it worth it? You might think I’ll just read it through myself very, very carefully and I’ll pick up any mistakes that remain. You might think the editor has done all the hard work for you so why should you bother? You might find a well-read victim, sorry volunteer, and ask them to do the job for you for free. I would caution you against any of these steps but particularly the last one. What if your relative or friend misses an obvious error? They are going to feel terrible when it’s pointed out to them and you are never going to be able to quite forgive them for missing it. Save yourself the angst and hire a professional.

Despair by Lloyd Morgan courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/4vKjDj   https://goo.gl/OOAQfn

I worked with a proofreader and it was a worthwhile experience. It gave me the opportunity to check through the manuscript very, very carefully myself one more time whilst I worked my way through the proofreader’s suggestions. I made a small number of additional changes (give a writer a red pen and a free hour and there’s no telling what might happen – if you find yourself spending five minutes ruminating on ‘He stood his glass down’ as compared to ‘He slammed his glass down’ or comparing the relative merits of ‘charmed’ against ‘enchanted’, as I did, it’s probably time to step away from the keyboard).

Delete by Matt McGee http://www.carimcgee.com courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/9cnADG  https://goo.gl/VAhsB

My proofreader spotted some spelling errors that had sneaked (snuck?) through. She also commented on readability in a few places and pointed out some sentences were clarification would be a good idea. She also highlighted some stray formatting issues that had crept in like extra spaces.

The changes we made between us probably went into double figures and this was on a manuscript that had been relatively ‘clean’ to begin with. Are there still errors that remain? I hope not but if there are the responsibility rests with me.

So, if you are wondering if a proofreader is worthwhile I would urge you to hire one (and no I don’t secretly beyond to the Guild of Proofreaders [if there is such a thing!]). My rationale is always ‘Will this make my book a better book?’ A professional proofreader will give you that.

Big tick
Big Tick by Cve4mejournal courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/x4Db5b  https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking an editor is enough on their own. Hiring an editor without a proofreader is like having treacle pudding without the custard. Nice enough on its own but better together.

Today’s blog is the latest in my Flower Seller Thursday collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my debut novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June 2016 #FlowerSellerThursday

The Flower Seller Kindle edition is now available to pre-order from Amazon via my website http://goo.gl/0Gv8Jg 

The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes


4 thoughts on “Why proofreaders are a necessity and not a luxury

  1. Jax Burrows 05/05/2016 / 2:56 pm

    Interesting article. Could you advise me on whether someone who considers proofreading to be part of their job – I’m a secretary – needs a proofreader please? I had a novel critiqued and was told that there were few errors in it and, in fact, the reader had to nit-pick to find any. I know we all make mistakes but would I be better off spending more money on editing and doing the proof-reading myself? Grateful for your advice.


    • ellieholmesauthor 06/05/2016 / 2:59 pm

      Hi Jax. It’s a tricky one when money is tight but I would still try to do both. I work in an office (when I’m not writing) and I’m fine proofreading my own letters and reports but a novel is a different thing. There is also the element to be being blind to your own mistakes. My proofreader also made readability and editing suggestions and picked up on errors that had occurred after the edit with additional spaces etc., creeping in here and there from the formatting so she did more than just look for spelling errors. Good luck with your novel. Do let me know how you get on 🙂 Ellie


  2. Jax Burrows 06/05/2016 / 3:19 pm

    Thanks for this. You’re so right that you sometimes can’t see your own mistakes. I’m great at picking up others! I will continue the search for affordable proofreaders and editors. Can’t wait to read your book in June. It’s such a lovely cover. And that’s another thing I’ll need!


    • ellieholmesauthor 06/05/2016 / 4:12 pm

      Thanks for your kind comments about The Flower Seller. Much appreciated 🙂


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