FAQs

This is a selection of common questions relating to editing and proofreading. Please choose an item from the list below, or scroll down the page. If you can not find what you are looking for, please contact me with your question.

Why do I need a proofreader?

No-one should proofread their own work: because you know what should be on the page, that is what you see, even if there is an obvious error present. A fresh eye will not see the same pattern as you do, and will pick up the mistakes. A professional proofreader is also trained to keep changes from causing expensive alterations to page layout, so saving you and your company money.

Why do I, the author, need a copy-editor?

You may have been creating your work over a long period. You know it well enough to recite parts of it from memory. How could anyone else make it better? Unfortunately, familiarity with your text may often keep you from seeing its flaws. You cannot sit down and look at it from the new reader's perspective. But a copy-editor can. More than that, while an ordinary reader may spot the weaknesses but not know how to improve them, a copy-editor is trained to remove infelicities of grammar, to correct spelling, and to re-order a flabby argument to produce one that is tight and cohesive. The copy-editor will also know how to mark up your text for publication, so that it has a smooth run through typesetting and proofreading.

Why do I, the publisher/company/organisation, need a copy-editor?

Much of the previous answer is relevant here. A good copy-editor will also ensure that your company/organisation is shown in the best possible light. While few people can write well, many more can spot a poor publication and will assume that such publications are a fair indication of the competence of your company/organisation.

How long will it take to proofread or copy-edit my book?

A basic rule of thumb for a straightforward publication is a proofreading rate of about 10 pages per hour with about 300 words per page. However, more complicated texts, or ones that have been inadequately prepared, could take twice or three times as long.

The time required for copy-editing is a great deal harder to quantify, since it depends so much on the state of the author's text, the author's ability to spell and use grammar, the number of facts to be checked, etc. A copy-editor will normally only be able to provide a rough estimate, based on the information you supply about the text and (preferably) a sample of the writing.

Be prepared for your proofreader or copy-editor to produce a revised estimate if they have read part of the copy and found it to be more problematical than originally thought.

How much does a copy-editor or proofreader cost?

Most reputable copy-editors and proofreaders set their minimum rates based on those of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and the National Union of Journalists. You will be able to find people who will do editorial work for lower rates than these, but they may be untrained or inexperienced or both. Work may be carried out according to an hourly rate, or a fixed sum may be agreed for the whole project. Be prepared for your copy-editor or proofreader to contact you to discuss a revised fee if they find the work to be more problematical than originally thought.

What does the copy-editor need to know?

When you send a job for copy-editing, include the following information:

What does the proofreader need to know?

When you send a job for proofreading, include the following information: