Copyediting – Proofreading Comments Summary (Part Two)

 So we continue with copyediting and proofreading comments . . .

After my five-part blog on copyediting and proofreading, I collected the comments from this blog and from the LinkedIn writing group called Crime Fiction managed by Theresa de Valence.

Today I’ll focus on Having Others Proofread Your Work:

I received some interesting ideas about having others proofread your work and have grouped the comments below. Some comments gave a similar message so I picked one of them to post. I hope you find these helpful.

  • I threw a party…after my manuscript had been proofread by a pro (and she was good). I invited five well-read, literate friends and gave them each five page stacks of non-chronological parts of the manuscript. They were to read them over, mark what was wrong, tag those pages with coloured stickers and then trade with someone across the table. I reassembled the manuscript and made the CX where needed. It’s a constant process as you know. Not perfect, but darn close . . . I was in the room because . . . when my readers had questions about dialect or some military or nautical term I could answer them immediately. They read silently for the most part . . . unless they had questions. Having the pages out of context made for closer scrutiny . . . helping eliminate the usual tendency to mentally fill in words automatically . . . which the writer may do when reading one’s own book. . BTW, the manuscript was 102,000 words and having five readers meant it was accomplished in about four hours. I had a thank you card and gift for each reader when we were done. They liked the chore so much they volunteered to do it with future books . . . and I’m going to take them up on it.


  • If you can, have two of your most obsessive compulsive friends or relatives read the galley. They’ll work hard to find the little mistakes, the kinds that editors miss. However, in the end, don’t beat yourself up over every error; we are human. 


  • As a newspaper reporter, I knew many editors, but only a handful as meticulous as needed for a book manuscript. When I receive galleys, I ask two really good editors to read copies. Each of the three of us has her own copy. It is amazing to see how many errors each of us find, mistakes not duplicated by the other readers. And this is after the books have been through editors at the publishing house. Wow! For the first several books I used editor friends whose work I knew. I took them to dinner or some other entertainment as compensation. In all, five different editor friends have read for me. Now, I write them checks, which are never enough for what they contribute. They fuss, but will cash the checks. They get a kick out of reading the first print-outs, even boast about doing it. Others have volunteered, but I need pros. It works for me.


  • Genre is extremely important. You have to know the
genre to be able to tell the timing, rhythm, wording and nuances of the
story. Each one has its own blood pressure and heartbeat. Editors are
inclined to pick out things that they say are wrong, and may actually take 
away from the story than they put in. They tend to be superior in demeanour. 
example, an editor might tell me that the language in EINAR is too formal, 
they do not know Scandinavian speech patterns. I speak Norwegian, Danish,
Swedish , as well as English, German and Dutch to varying degrees and know the
rhythm of all the languages. It also helps in research. It is their opinion
unless they are on the payroll of one of the major publishers. In that case you
kind of have to do what they say for the most part if you can’t prove your


  • Be careful who you go with as an editor. Be absolutely sure that they are well versed in your specific genre. If you write horror, do not settle for a fantasy editor, it is not the same thing. Always look for personal compatibility. It is your baby that you are entrusting them with, not some mangy red boned mutt from the pound.


  • Trade with someone – you proof theirs & they proof yours. Errors tend to get less detectable with repeated readings, until they look more “normal” than more “correct” usages. And that script reading by your characters is probably a good idea for reasons way beyond proofing – might want to do it while you’re doing drafts as well, to try out alternative sequences. An audience helps, although they’ll get testy after a while, no matter how good the writing is.

Thanks for reading and thanks for the comments . . .