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Why you need a professional proofreader for your novel

As a self-publishing author, you’re probably overwhelmed with everything you need to do before you can release your book. There are so many new terms to learn about. So many services you didn’t know people used, and you’re not sure what you need.

So why do you need a professional proofreader?

Finding a proofreader is as easy as asking in a Facebook group, but you’re actually opening yourself up to people who aren’t trained, don’t have experience, and aren’t as competent as they say.

Your novel needs a professional: someone who is trained specifically in proofreading, someone who will do the best work, and someone who isn’t going to let you down.

Image by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

What is a professional proofreader?

A professional proofreader is someone who has trained in proofreading, whether they’ve trained in-house in a publishing company or taken a training course.

Proofreaders who have trained to proofread usually list one of the following organisations as a training provider:

  • Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading
  • The Publishing Training Centre
  • College of Media and Publishing
  • Chapterhouse Publishing

There are many individuals who sell proofreading training courses, but these don’t guarantee the same competency.

Otherwise, their qualifications or experience will tell you how many years they’ve worked as a proofreader or within a publishing house.

For instance, you can see on my Training & Qualifications page that I’ve completed two proofreading courses with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.

Why do you need a professional proofreader?

It’s not enough to ask friends, family, fellow writers, or beta readers to proofread your novel. Proofreading is a skill that many people claim to have but haven’t actually learned about. Many authors still mix up editing and proofreading.

The training a professional proofreader has makes them worth every penny. They spot mistakes most people skip over while reading, and they don’t just read once. Some proofreaders read a novel three or four times to catch as many mistakes as possible!

That doesn’t mean a novel will be completely free from errors. My favourite way of explaining it is this:

  • An editor will find 80–90% of errors
  • A proofreader will find the remaining 80–90% of errors missed or introduced during editing

Why is proofreading important for your novel?

Proofreading is important for all novels, as much as editing is. Knowing what kind of editorial services there are can help you produce a novel that looks as good as a traditionally published book.

Traditional publishers work with freelance proofreaders or have their own in-house staff to proofread for them. Self-publishers need to find out what proofreading is, why they need a proofreader, and what to expect from the proofread.

Proofreading is the final polish of your story to ensure that it’s in the best shape possible for publication. It’s the barrier between having an error-free novel and getting reviews docking a star for being riddled with mistakes.

How to find a professional proofreader for your novel

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading is one of the best places to find a professional proofreader for your novel.

The CIEP’s directory of editors and proofreaders contains members of the organisation who have over 500 hours of editorial experience, which has earned them a Professional or Advanced Professional membership.

If that’s beyond your budget, there are also Entry-Level and Intermediate Members who aren’t found on the directory. ELM and IM proofreaders have less experience, and thus are typically cheaper, but follow the same membership codes.

The CIEP’s membership codes outline expectations for the professional practice of editors and proofreaders, including the standard of their work.

This guarantees that the work done by CIEP members is of a high standard, and there’s someone to turn to if anything goes wrong.

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