Eek! Part II What does an editor do?

So what DOES an editor do? Part II

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]roofreading is surrounded by a cloud of confusion. It’s often taken for granted, tossed out to the wind and treated like something anyone could do. If it’s not taken for granted, then proofreaders are getting taken advantage of. What an author might consider a “comma check” could really be what a proofreader would call a light edit. A proofreader isn’t there to correct your comma compulsion; a proofreader is there to find your missed comma correction.

Like copyediting, proofreading is not as easy as it sounds. Proofreaders are not editors, but they do a lot more work than people think.

Contrary to popular belief, proofreading is not just about the words on the page.

Proofreading is what happens after copyediting. It’s usually done on the finished product just before it’s released to the public. In traditional publishing, these are the galleys. It’s typeset, and it’s printed in the form it will be in the final product. Sometimes they make several rounds of galleys for different purposes (ARCs, sales copies, final proof, etc.). The final galley proof is meant to be reviewed by the author, editor, and proofreaders. It’s taking a final look to try to catch any missed corrections and find any newly introduced errors. It’s also checking the entire final product. Different proofreaders have different methods they prefer to achieve their proof, but it involves things you’d expect, like comparing the final galley proof to the final edited manuscript.

In e-publishing, we don’t really have that. So my suggestion is to have a your formatted Word document ready to go as it would look in whatever form you have. If you plan to make a Createspace or other POD version, then have it formatted for such and send that to be proofed. Include the ornaments and images. Let your proofreader check everything. It’s what a proofer does. Margins, spaces, placement, pagination, ornaments, cover, everything. If it’s digital format only, send it with the ornaments and such included in the Word document. The assumption is that they’ll just be converted from one to another (even if it’s handcoding, the words themselves are still just getting copied and pasted into the software as is and then formatted) and correcting one digital file will correct them all. The story and words can be proofed in the Word file, and the rest can be proofed in the digital file. If that’s not the case, then you’ll have to decide if you want all of them proofed separately.

Another option is to proof within an e-reader using the highlight and comments functions, assuming those things can be saved to the file.

Remember to send the style sheet to the proofreader. That is the guide the proofreader will stick to. The proofreader will add any new items as needed.

Each proofreader will have their own methods, and it seems most authors aren’t really interested in having anything but the actual story proofread, which is fine too. If you have a lot of people on your publishing team, it could be hard to get it all organized, especially if you aren’t very familiar with the process yet. The choice of how much gets proofed is up to the author. But now you know exactly how much proofing a proofreader could be doing for you if you wanted it. It’s also something to consider when you’re asking yourself why proofreading is more expensive than you thought it would be. The job isn’t as easy as you thought it was.

Proofreading is a skill. The price for proofreading will reflect that skill. 

These are the base services a proofreader will provide. Specific fields of editing will have additional services dependent upon the needs of the specific field.

You can find more detailed information at the Bay Area Editor’s Forum.

The information provided in this post came from Amy Einsohn’s The Copyeditor’s Handbook.

  or if you prefer, Barnes & Noble.

You may also be interested in Carol Fisher Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor.

 or if you prefer, Barnes & Noble.

And for the writers that want become better at self-editing before submitting to an editor, you might like Renni Brown and Dave King’s Self Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print.

 or if you prefer, Barnes & Noble.

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Cheryl Murphy is Asian with brown hair in a single braid and a smirk.

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