What is proofreading and what is it not?

In a couple of different places online, I posted the instruction to fill in the blank.

πŸ“’ When I send off my book to a proofreader, I expect that proofreader to ____________.

πŸ˜… Now, that’s the thing with social media. You don’t always get back what you anticipated. I could have put it into context to explain what I was after, but I didn’t want to say too much and influence the answers.

πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ Some interpreted the request as if I was asking because I didn’t know the answer myself. Fair enough. I could have been. (But I wasn’t. ‘My bad’ as some — not usually me(!) — say. )

😬 Some simply answered with the word ‘proofread’. Fair enough. They’re not wrong!

πŸ˜€ Some did what I’d hoped and explained the parameters of what they thought proofreading involved.

βœ… Now, on all platforms, there was someone pretty quick to jump in with the ‘correct’ definition of proofreading (i.e. not editing — just the final checks.)

πŸ€” But I’m now wondering whether others, having looked at the comments before they made their own, perhaps held back with their gut answers for fear they were incorrect… Like, ‘I wasn’t going to say that but I don’t dare write my answer now there’s a possibility I’m wrong.’ πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

πŸ‘€ However, a thread developed on one group which was quite revealing. As I thought, some people think proofreading is more like editing. There were answers such as: I expect my proofreader to…

– Give me honest feedback

– Tell me it’s the best manuscript they’ve ever read

– Catch plot holes

(And my feelings are that I would have heard even more of these non-traditional interpretations of what proofreading is had I asked indie authors individually, without them seeing other authors’ answers.)

But these three things are not what I learnt in proofreading training. And they’re not traditionally involved in the proofreading process. They would come way before this.

πŸ’‘But you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m not disparaging any authors who assume feedback or more structural stuff comes under the proofreading umbrella.

And I’m not disparaging any ‘proofreaders’ who go beyond the traditional definitions to offer more interventions than it says on the tin.

If authors (especially indie ones) have only budgeted for one round of checks, I can see why #proofreading with add-ons is an appealing service. Heck, I do it myself in the service I call proof-editing.

But, I’d say the main takeaways from today’s experiment are:

EDITORS and PROOFREADERS — define your services carefully. If you’re working with indies, make sure they know what they will and won’t get through your service.

AUTHORS — do your research carefully. Look for the editors and proofreaders who offer what you are looking for.

BOTH. I heartily recommend sample edits. A short sample to show the level of intervention being offered will make sure you’re the best fit and that everyone is happy. I’ve waxed lyrical around the topic.

Have you any thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.

Published by clairecherryedits

CherryEdits.com Proofreading | copyediting indie fiction. Ask about my popular proof-editing service. CIEP IM.

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