View Full Version : Proof reading services

05-11-2009, 02:29 AM
I just completed by 300 word novel and i'm working on my final draft. I want to send it to a proof reading service before looking for an agent. My feeling is that its quite possible that even after checking it a few times that I will have some spelling or grammatical errors and i'd like to eliminate them before presenting my work to an agent. Does anyone here use an agency like that or know of one that would be recommended?

05-11-2009, 02:56 AM
Do you mean 300 page?

Proofreading ain't rocket science and if you plan a career as a writer you learn the basics. Don't go throwing money out on proofing. You'll never make it back again in sales.

Get a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style (http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-William-White-Strunk/dp/B001JEDR6U/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241995771&sr=1-7). Most libraries have it, and used bookstores have them by the dozen.

Every pro writer will have that book on or near their desk.

Read it and apply what's in it. It's pretty easy.

Use your spell check, fully aware it may insert errors.

Then print a hard copy.

Read the book aloud to yourself. It's easier to spot errors that way.

And get a trusted friend to read it. Tell them to circle every last error they can find.

Cost to you? The price of Elements of Style.

No agent or editor expects to see a perfectly clean, error-free submission. They do expect you to make an effort. I'd seen some beautifully turned out submissions--but the writing was not something I could buy. I've seen some horrible looking subs by people who didn't bother with even the spell check--no excuse for that these days. I sent the sub back asking them to clean up the MS and try me again.

It's not hard to be a pro!

The plain fact is however clean a sub is, the words have to be worth buying. If they come back to you, then rewrite and keep submitting.

In the meanwhile, you work on another novel to keep your head from exploding!

If, after you teach yourself the 101 on self-editing, you still think you need to hire a copy editing service, be aware there are sharks in the pool. Some call themselves "Book Doctors" and the like. Always check Preditors and Editors (http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/), or Google the name + "scam" or "ripoff" to keep safe. Run the name through AW's Bewares and Background Checks. Lots of sharks prey on would-be writers, offering any number of useless "services."

Don't believe websites that say you HAVE to have an error-free manuscript or it will get rejected. That's horse hockey. It that was true, nothing would ever get published.

Just give your stuff the kind of going over your 5th grade English teacher would give it. That should take care of things just fine! :Thumbs:

05-11-2009, 04:07 AM
What Gillhoughly said.

Matera the Mad
05-11-2009, 05:44 AM

Calla Lily
05-11-2009, 05:46 AM
Professional copyeditor/proofreader chiming in to agree with Gillhoughly.

05-11-2009, 10:46 AM
I'm laughing at my mistake even in this post. I did mean 300-page novel, not 300 word. Maybe I should get a proof reader for my posts lol.
At anyrate I'm really scratching my head because I sent a few pages of my novel to a proof reading service that offered a free sample. The sample came back really quick and unfortunately they butchered it. I don't mean to say they criticized it, but their suggestions were really bad. It came back with them correcting the spelling on words that I had spelled correctly--which amazes me to no end. I'm fairly error prone at spelling but even I know to spell Psychiatrist with a P. They edited it to sychiatrist.
I do have a copy of Elements of Style. Maybe i'll be using it more than ever!

Linda Adams
05-11-2009, 02:34 PM
There are also quite a few books out on how to proofread. Most of them will all cover the same types of mistakes, which will show you what to look for. You should be able to find one at the local library.

05-11-2009, 03:06 PM
Why pay for something you can get for free? You'll have to learn to proofread and edit eventually. Also why not wander over to the SYW forum or find a beta or two? Beta readers and crit partners are a godsend in the early stages of writing before you've learned to spot bad pacing and structure.

Anywho. My two cents.

05-11-2009, 04:02 PM
If all you're worried about is a bit of spelling and grammar, I don't think it would be worth the money to have it done by someone else.

If you want something more, like help with the wording, maybe yes, maybe no. It's like a writing conference: if it doesn't teach you anything, it's probably not worth it. But if you can afford it, and it improves your own skills, maybe.

05-11-2009, 06:47 PM
I hired an editor to oversee my drafts before I submitted the manuscript to my editor (who had bought the book already) just because I felt I was too close to the product. She made some good edits but after a while she seemed less interested in the work (I was sending her a chapter at a time).

I wouldn't hire someone for proofreading but if you want to go an editor route, get a sample edit from her/him and understand it might cost a bit to edit a 300-page manuscript (well over 1k).

05-11-2009, 06:49 PM
Don't believe websites that say you HAVE to have an error-free manuscript or it will get rejected. That's horse hockey. It that was true, nothing would ever get published.

Just collabing on this, and the amount of bull shiat it is. Ever read a book that you bought from your brick and mortar store and found words that were spelled wrong, or a sentence that was just screwed up?

When your dealing with thousands of words like a book then you ARE going to have a screwup that makes it through.

05-11-2009, 07:32 PM
The sample came back really quick and unfortunately they butchered it.

Clearly they're one of the helpful, but wholly inept types out there hoping to avoid getting a real job.

Some years back I ran across an editing "service" that had a dozen errors on the website page alone.

The books they'd "edited" were all self-published e-books written by people in their writers group.


Print a hard copy and read it aloud, that's the way to start.

Sometimes just putting it in a different font makes errors pop out. Going from Times New Roman to Arial for the duration of proofing is all it takes.

Do a global search for troublemakers like its and it's, their, they're, and there. Tedious? Yes, but at some point you'll start obsessively writing in the correct one as you go just to avoid it.

Artists have to know how to mix colors to get the effect they want. They have to know red and blue make purple, not hire someone to come mix it for them.

You're painting with words. It's part of your job to know your medium. The stuff you learned in 5th grade English is usually more than enough to serve!

05-11-2009, 07:36 PM
PS--It might interest you to know that one of the most successful writers in TV and novels, with tons of awards to prove it, Stephen J. Cannell (http://www.cannell.com/bio.php), is dyslexic.

He's done rather well!

05-11-2009, 08:12 PM
PS--It might interest you to know that one of the most successful writers in TV and novels, with tons of awards to prove it, Stephen J. Cannell (http://www.cannell.com/bio.php), is dyslexic.

He's done rather well!

:D So has Samuel "Chip" Delany.

Speaking as a proofreader--what Gilhougly said.

Also; when you print the hardcopy, try printing it in a slightly different but readable font, possibly even bigger than usual.

Read it aloud, and use a straight edge, possibly a ruler, or a sheet of blank paper to help you control what you see.

The best way of all is to have one person read it aloud, and one person mark the hardcopy.

05-11-2009, 08:23 PM
Gillhoughly is absolutely correct.

After I performed all the required editing for my books I sent them off to eight selected beta readers. These people didn't know me except through my written work. Our communications were never personal. the only fly in the ointment (and it's a small one) is two of my BRs are Australian and one is French speaking Canadian. As anyone can tell you there's English, and then there's English. They also use spellcheck theirs made unwanted changes in my text. Those differences are fairly easy to sort out. My Canadian beta reader was able but his English usage is even quirkier than mine. That took work.
What I'm saying is, rather than pay someone to proof read for you why not ask competent beta readers to do it? Their price is above rubies.

Matera the Mad
05-12-2009, 06:51 AM
If betas were diamonds I wouldn't sell mine. :)

05-12-2009, 11:56 AM
I agree with what everyone has said - especially Gills point about reading aloud and changing the font. but also equally important is putting the MS to one side for a week or two. so when you come back to it, you will have a better perspective.
I think this is even valid when sending it to beta's - give yourself a week or two before you send it off so you can 'climatise' and move away from it.

Also its important to note with editing/proofreaders that they might end of 'changing' your voice or hamper your style, especially if they aren't very professional/efficient

05-13-2009, 01:13 AM
Reading aloud is really useful, especially for picking up repeated words or strange convolutions. My Mac will read anything on the page to me quite easily. Probably PCs have some equivalent trick.