Putting your written work in the public eye is a daunting thing for the majority of people, particularly if you have no previous experience. You need to make sure that the very best version of your work is what you make public. You have probably read it over and over again and think you have spotted all the mistakes, but be aware that your eyes can play tricks on you!
A cautionary tale: Many, many years ago (when I was first starting out), I worked for a computer analyst company and wrote a company proposal document involving a man named Brian who was mentioned in this lengthy document over twenty times. I typed it. I checked it. My boss checked it. His boss checked it. They both approved it and it was sent winging on its merry way (via the postal system – this was before e-mail). Three days later Brian arrived in our offices laughing fit to burst, waving the document in front of him. With the exception of the first page, Brian had been re-named Brain throughout…
This was a steep learning curve and one I took particularly seriously. I learned several different techniques to ensure it did not happen again and that was the start of my becoming somewhat geeky on the subject of proofreading.
If your work has not had any eyes on it other than your own, it is highly likely there are mistakes you cannot see because you are too close to it. What this means is that your brain is not allowing you to notice minor (or even major) errors! It happens to everyone. Even the most famous authors’ work is edited and proofread, sometimes several times, and even then mistakes slip through the net.
Be honest, have you ever picked up a book, read a few pages, and put it back down because of spelling or grammatical errors? Or had to re-read a sentence because it didn’t make sense on the first reading? If you were in the middle of a great story when that happened, did it spoil the flow? If that happens too often, the vast majority of people will walk away and never know the ending of what could be an utterly fabulous story!
It’s not just book authors who need to have their work edited and proofread: students who are busy trying to explain all they have learned often write their ideas down so fast that they forget about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and capitalization. Having taught in Further Education for many years, I have lost count of the amount of work I have had to return to my learners because I simply did not have the time to decipher what they meant to say. This is actually one of the main reasons I turned to editing and proofreading: I knew the work I was returning probably had all the answers I was looking for, but I did not have the time to dig to find it! It was frustrating for us all.
Reading should be a positive experience and anything that stops the flow for the reader is not what you are aiming for!
Students, in particular, should remember the acronym KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid! In other words, treat the recipient of your words as though they know nothing about the subject. Explain what you are answering in succinct sentences and eliminate the irrelevant.
For example, don’t tell your tutor about how blue the sky was and how a butterfly landed on your head when you took the children in your class outside to complete a learning activity you planned. (This is taken from an actual answer I received – this particular student took ten pages to answer what could have been covered in three!) Instead, stick to the facts: tell them why you set up this particular activity, tell them how the children responded, what you learned from the activity, what the children learned, what went well, what went wrong, etc., etc…
Don’t tell your tutor that you spent an hour under the bonnet because Mr. Smith jumped up and down whilst tearing at his hair because he was unable to get to work. Stick to the facts: you had to change the spark plugs because…
Don’t tell your tutor that a patient needs a measurement and evaluation by health professionals of the clinical standards they are achieving; tell them they need a clinical audit…
Are you ready to have your work copy-edited or proofread?
I have experience in the following:
- College/University Students (unit work, thesis/dissertations)
- Software consultancy
- Law (conveyancing, family, personal injury)
- Children’s books
- Young adult books (any genre)
- Romance, historical and current (sorry, no erotica).
I will ensure that your work is accurate, easy to follow, fit for purpose, free of error, omission, inconsistency and repetition.
Please ensure that you have saved your submission as a plain Word document. Omit any fripperies (fancy fonts or designs) as you can add these afterwards. Switching on Track Changes enables you to see every change made and any comments written for your attention and means that you retain full control over which amendments you wish to use, and those you don’t. You decide by using the Accept or Reject options.
Extra information for authors
If you haven’t decided how to distribute your book and are going to self-publish, there are a few channels you might consider:
CreateSpace: This is an Amazon company which lets writers publish print copies of their book.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Another Amazon company which allows you to publish your work onto a Kindle.
Smashwords: Digital publishing in a variety of formats including EPUB, LRF (Sony Reader), Mobi (Kindle), PDB (Palm Doc), HTML, and PDF.
Lulu: Like CreateSpace, this is a print-on-demand platform.
Check each of them and take note of their terms and conditions. Make sure you are happy with any royalties you can potentially earn and the distribution rights you are granted. You can always change your mind at a later date, especially as new options are sometimes introduced and terms and conditions can be altered, which may not be so favourable to you.
Legalities: Make sure you have checked the following: fair use of music lyrics or scores; legalities in regard to Trademark and brand-name usage; passing off; intellectual property rights; how long a quotation can be before copyright is breached and, lastly, that you have copyright © clearance for any images or graphics you use.
Notes and Disclaimers:
(1) Copyright laws can differ between countries so check before publishing. It is ultimately the responsibility of the author to ensure compliance!
(2) Plagiarism is frowned upon – if your document contains somebody else’s work and you publish it as your own, you can potentially find yourself in very hot water. Don’t do it! I accept no liability for plagiarism. By asking me to edit or proofread work submitted to me, you confirm that you understand my stance on plagiarism and confirm your submission is entirely your own work.
(3) My role is to edit and/or proofread your work. It is the responsibility of the author to ensure accuracy of work.
Other terminology you may come across:
Beta reader – someone who has read your work and given you feedback on it; plot holes, continuity, characterization, and believability.
Critique – a detailed, analytical evaluation.
Professional structural editing – involves a degree of rewriting to develop the final story.
Professional copy-editing – making corrections, ensuring style consistency, flagging things to be checked for accuracy.