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Indie Authors - Do You Need a Copy-editor or Proofreader?

Updated: May 17

People in the office sat looking at a laptop together

Whether you’ve written a short eBook or a full-length print book, it’s a good idea to ask someone else to read through it before it’s published.

It’s so easy to overlook your own errors and inconsistencies, even if you’ve read your work hundreds of times!

Don’t worry - even highly experienced writers do this. You’re so close to your own work that it’s difficult to read it objectively.

Another person can spot your faux pas immediately and can advise on such things as dodgy sentence structure, punctuation and readability.

But, do you need a copy-editor, a proofreader, or both, before publishing your book or eBook?

Do you need a copy-editor for your self-published book?

A copy-editor is usually the first port of call. He or she will look at your draft and suggest how it could be improved.

They may comment on several of the following areas:

  • Titles and headings

  • Paragraph structure

  • Sentence structure

  • Organization and flow of ideas

  • Formatting

  • Consistency

  • Accuracy of facts

  • Logic of arguments

  • Clarity

  • Readability

  • Use of words (e.g. repeating the same word several times or using a word inappropriately)

  • Tone of voice

  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Once you’ve received the editor’s suggestions, you can either accept or reject each suggestion. This is very easy to do in Word if “track-changes” is selected. Just press “accept” or “reject” for each change the editor has suggested.

If part of the text has been heavily edited, it may be necessary to rewrite it, especially if it contains inconsistencies or unclear sentences or paragraphs.

Several drafts may go backwards and forwards between you and your copy-editor before you have a final draft you’re happy with.

Do you need a proofreader for your self-published book?

All publishing companies use proofreaders for a final check through the book to ensure everything is correct.

But do you really need to engage a proofreader after paying for a copy-editor? Or is it just an extra expense that you can do without?

During the copy-editing process, punctuation errors or even typos can be overlooked, especially if the editor is pointing out other issues in the same portion of text.

Also, when you’re updating your draft after reading the editor’s comments, you may inadvertently miss out a full stop or fail to delete a redundant word in a sentence, for example.

A proofreader will check that:

  • All words are spelled correctly

  • Each word is used correctly and in its correct context

  • The grammar of each sentence is precisely correct

  • Punctuation is correct throughout

  • The formatting looks good – if the gaps between words, sentences, paragraphs, text boxes and illustrations are larger or smaller than usual, the proofreader will point this out, so that it can be fixed before publication.

In addition, a good proofreader will also flag up anything that may have been overlooked during the copy-editing process, such as inconsistencies in the text and facts that are incorrect.

It’s not really the proofreader’s job to do this, but, for you as an author, it’s very useful to gain a third person’s perspective before publishing your book.

It's so easy to self-publish a book and it can be very tempting to press "publish" soon after the first draft is finished, but how would you feel if you opened your newly published book and saw an error immediately?

This can be prevented by a thorough copy-edit followed by a proofread, giving you a book you’re proud to be the author of.

If you’re unsure whether your book needs to be copy-edited or proofread, or both, please contact us on 0758 2630613 or for a free initial consultation.

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