Professional Proofreading for Authors

Note: this page pertains to proofreading for authors. For proofreading of documents other than books and fiction, please see the admin and virtual assistance section.

Proofreading for Authors: Pricing and Packages



Accounts

Free Trial

Projects

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Storage

Domains

LITE

£2–3

PER 1,000 WORDS

Format: Word w/Track Changes and Comments

Essential formatting clean-up

Essential punctuation correction and consistency

Essential word choice, spelling and grammar correction and consistency

Essential sense and clarity issues flagged


STANDARD

£5–6

PER 1,000 WORDS

Everything in Lite, plus

"Essential" checks upgraded to "Full"

Flagging of potential continuity errors

Ensuring English variant is consistent throughout



PREMIUM

£9–10

PER 1,000 WORDS

Everything in Standard, plus

Format: Word, PDF or hard copy

Proofing for print and/or fixed-layout e-book

Complex matter support

Proof-editing (if desired)

20% off fast-track fee

Word count will be as determined by Microsoft Word and is rounded to the nearest 100. The cost for proofreading a manuscript of 65,137, for example, will be 65.1 * the relevant rate.

Partial upgrades are available at £1.50/1K per feature (any except the 20% off fast-track fee). For example, if you’ve chosen the Lite package, you could upgrade punctuation correction and consistency from “essential” to “full”. Or perhaps you like the sound of proof-editing but aren’t interested in the other features of the Premium package, in which case you could pick the Standard package and upgrade to proof-editing.

To get started, email me your manuscript (or a representative sample thereof) along with the word count and which package(s) you’re considering. I will then assess the manuscript and let you know the exact price.

Don’t fret if you’re not yet sure what you want or need! If you let me know a little about you, your manuscript and your aspirations, I can help you decide on the best option for you.

Please note that these are ultimately my standard prices for proofreading for authors. They are published like this to give you something concrete to work off, but exceptions may arise where a different rate (higher or lower) is appropriate.

If you’re concerned about managing the cost of proofreading, do start a dialogue with me. There are various options that may be considered, including a modest discount on non-urgent work and spreading the cost across multiple payments – just ask and I’ll do my best to work something out for you.

Proofreading FREEBIE: a fourth option

  • Max 1,000 words
  • Word documents only
  • Editorial corrections only (no layout or non-essential formatting corrections)

Authors might find this a great option if they want to get a feel for my work before committing a longer project to me. If your budget is severely limited, it can also aid you in self-editing, as it will give you an idea of the sorts of errors you tend to make.

Your 1,000-word submission does not have to be part of a longer work you intend to have proofread. It can be a complete work on its own.

You do not need to intend to use my paid services later on; you can simply take advantage of the freebie.

Restrictions

  • Turnaround: usually within a week, and I try to take into account anyone who is anxiously waiting to move forward with a longer project, but no guarantees are made. This is a free service and sometimes I get busy.
  • Number of submissions: no formal restrictions, but know that submissions beyond your first (especially if they come in quick succession) will move to the back of the queue and, depending on demand and my general level of busyness, may not ever get seen. Broadly: a submission every month or two is absolutely fine, while several per week will likely mean that they won’t all be read.
  • Please do not submit more than once from the same project. This is not a way to get a major project professionally proofread for free. Apart from the fact that I’m not actually a charity, a fractured reading like that just wouldn’t yield good results for you.

Turnaround

The turnaround time on proofreading for authors depends on a number of factors, but primarily it will down to the length of the manuscript and the level of intervention needed/requested.

For full novels (around 80K words), expect 1 week for the Lite package, 2 weeks for Standard, and 3 weeks for Premium.

It could be more, it could be less. These things can be difficult to gauge until you really get stuck in! As such, turnaround times are estimates, not guarantees. If you’re a busy author on a tight schedule, do let me know from the beginning, and I will do my very best to have your project done in time.

Fast-track

If you require a guaranteed fast turnaround, consider upgrading to fast-track. This service incurs an extra charge of 40% of your base quote. For example, if your base quote is £300, the fast track fee will be £120 (£300 x 0.4), giving you a total of £420. For the delivery date, we will discuss your needs (and the project’s) to arrive at a suitable date.

Key Terms and Features Explained

Proofreading for authors: a sample page proofread using Word's Track Changes. See pricing table for full sample download

Formats

This refers to the type of file that you send me to work on. Typically this will be a Word document, and I will mark up my corrections and suggestions using the Track Changes and Comments features.

Formatting clean-up

Covers aspects like

  • proper page breaks
  • consistent use of headers
  • consistent alignment
  • correct sequencing
  • deletion of extraneous spacing
  • proper indentation
  • using Word Styles to correctly tag text elements

Punctuation

Covers aspects like

  • Dialogue-related
    • Correct: e.g. commas inside quotation marks
    • Consistent: e.g. use of single vs double quotation marks
  • Comma use
    • Correct: e.g. ensuring bracketing commas always come in pairs
    • Consistent: e.g. use of serial comma vs no serial comma
  • Ellipses
    • Correct: e.g. used when a trailing off is intended – not to indicate interruption
    • Consistent: e.g. triple dots (. . .) vs “true” ellipses (…), spacing or lack thereof
  • Semi-colons
    • Correct: e.g. used to connect two closely related clauses that complement each other – not where one clause explains another (use a colon)
    • Consistent: e.g. no overuse or conspicuous lack of use
  • Hyphens, en dashes and em dashes
    • Correct: e.g. hyphens (-) in hyphenated words, en dashes (–) for time spans, em dashes (—) for interruptions
    • Consistent: e.g. use of spaced en dashes vs unspaced em dashes for parentheticals
  • Plus, of course, use of all other punctuation: full stops, question marks, parentheses, apostrophes etc.

Word choices and phrasing

This addresses whether your word choices are correct, consistent and appropriate. In cases where a mistake has obviously been made (e.g. principle when you mean principal), I will go ahead and make the change, using Track Changes. In less clear-cut cases, I will raise a query, using the Comments feature. For example, I may be unsure what you mean, or I want to suggest several alternative words.

Spelling and grammar

I will check that your spelling and grammar is correct, consistent and audience- and context-appropriate

By “correct” I mean that it conforms to the English variant you have chosen. Usually this will be something close to standard UK/US English, but you could, if you wanted, write the entire manuscript in, say, a Scottish dialect (which has been done). “Correct” would then be something different than what is usually meant.

More likely, though, you’ll be doing this on a smaller and subtler scale to add character and colour to dialogue, and your narrative voice too. Or perhaps you’ll break standard spelling and grammar rules as a general style choice. If done deliberately and well, this can be very effective, and a good fiction proofreader should never prune such “errors” from your manuscript. They may, however, raise queries where unsure of your intentions.

Consistency – where multiple accepted spellings of a word exist, have you used one consistently? If you haven’t but one spelling is clearly favoured over another, I will make the choice. Where the split is roughly even, I will raise a query, so you can decide for yourself.

Sense and clarity

Your writing may be grammatically immaculate, but is the meaning of your words clear? Does it make sense? Is there cohesion between sentences, paragraphs and chapters? Is the behaviour of your characters logical?

Note that this does not amount to a large-scale assessment of your plot and characters. For that, you would need to look to developmental editors, beta readers, critique partners etc. By the time your manuscript arrives in my inbox, I expect it to be structurally sound. The proofreading check for sense and clarity is more about ensuring that it works on a micro-level too, that nothing is left under-explained and confusing when it isn’t meant to be.

Continuity

Another important aspect of proofreading for authors of fiction is continuity. Does your character’s eye colour change midway through the manuscript? Do two characters live ten minutes apart in chapter three, but thirty minutes in chapter seventeen? Does someone change from being a “Mrs” to a “Miss” without explanation? Does a character know something they shouldn’t be able to?

These are the sorts of issues I will look out for and flag if and when they crop up.

English variant

Different English variants have different conventions with regards to spelling, grammar and word choices. E.g. pavement/sidewalk, colour/color, acknowledgement/acknowledgment for UK/US English.

If included in your package (Standard and Premium), this will be made fully consistent throughout the manuscript.

If not (Lite), you can expect some changes in this vein, especially where the original might be confusing or misleading, but it will not be an area of focus. See also the “Essential” vs “full” section below.

Proofing for print/fixed layout

If you are planning to print publish your book, or if your e-book uses a fixed layout, you’ll want to ensure that your pages look good, and I can do that for you. This includes checking for widows and orphans and using hyphenation and strategic insertions/deletions to avoid overly gappy lines. I will also check things like pagination, running heads and margins.

You’ll need to format your manuscript before submitting it for proofreading. There are plenty of guides online on how to do this. This KDP help page is a good place to start.

Complex matter

If your manuscript includes multiple tables or illustrations, notes, references or layers of headings and sub-headings, you’ll need to ensure your package includes this feature. This is because the amount of work involved in checking these items is disproportionate to the number of words they take up.

If your project includes these elements to a very limited degree, that’s probably fine. Do check with me if you’re unsure.

Proof-editing

This comprises a traditional proofread + simple “style” edits, meaning edits to text that isn’t “wrong”, but where a change may nevertheless render the text more readable and allow it to flow better. Depending on the manuscript, you may see suggested changes along the lines of the following:

  • Deleting unnecessary adverbs/adjectives
  • Deleting extraneous wordage
  • Smoothing awkward sentences
  • Flagging repetition of words or information
  • Suggesting alternative word choices
  • Removing inappropriate or excessive saidisms
  • Breaking up of lengthy paragraphs, especially where there’s a notable shift in focus/subject

Additionally: during a proofread, there are always some changes that are debatable, e.g. a comma that isn’t 100% necessary but which could help the reader parse and understand the sentence more quickly. In a traditional proofread, I would tend to lean towards not making the change (especially if there are no other changes close by), the goal here always being to keep changes to a minimum: it’s a final check and polish, not a carte blanche to improve the text.

However, a proof-edit opens the door to non-essential edits – lowers the bar for what is an acceptable change – so I would be leaning towards accepting these debatable changes. Do be aware (and assured), though, that this is still a proof-edit, so I will not go wild adding punctuation and tweaking sentences absolutely all over the place.

“Essential” vs “full”

Looking at the Lite features, you might be wondering just what “essential” means. Fair question!

I created this option on the understanding that though it would be nice if all books were thoroughly proofread by a trained professional, it just isn’t realistic.

For many authors, the cost is simply far beyond what they can afford. And that’s not because proofreaders are overpricing their services, taking advantage of authors.

Unfortunately, good proofreading just takes time.

Because of this, many authors are going without proofreading. Others end up getting help from someone unqualified who, at worst, could introduce new errors, even with the best of intentions. Even worse, authors may actually be paying for this “service”. The result is often an unprofessional-looking book that doesn’t reflect the amount of work and care the author put into it.

But what if there was a middle way?

The Lite package is an attempt to bridge the gap between the “all” and the “nothing” in a professional and responsible manner. Yes, it means a less thorough job, and, yes, as a professional that does pain me – and perhaps that is why I’ve never seen another professional offer something like this.

But I also believe (1) in making professional editorial services as accessible as reasonably possible, and (2) that something is better than nothing, especially if that “something” is offered by a professional who can make informed decisions about what to correct and what to ignore, i.e. what will give you the biggest “bang for your buck”.

So what does all that mean in practice?

A lower per-word price means that I need to work faster in order to still make a reasonable hourly wage. To achieve this, I deliberately ignore some issues, instead concentrating my efforts where they’ll make the most difference. This means, broadly:

Formatting

Checked: page breaks, headers, alignment, sequencing, obvious extraneous spacing.

Ignored: improper indentation, small/unnoticeable extraneous spacing, Word Styles.

Punctuation

Checked: anything with the potential to affect meaning or cause confusion, anything part of a pair (e.g. quotation marks, parenthetical commas, dashes and brackets).

Ignored: most punctuation that would be debatable or that only lightly affects readability, inconsistencies that are not very noticeable (e.g. “non-fiction” vs “nonfiction” used far apart).

Word choices

Checked: any obvious or strongly suspected mistakes (e.g. “principle” vs “principal”).

Ignored: unintended repetition, slightly off/nonstandard words, phrases and grammar, which is still perfectly clear, some inconsistencies.

Sense and clarity

Checked: issues that directly affect the plot, or otherwise deemed of great importance.

Ignored: issues of slight confusion, or minor impact, or “maybe it’s just me”.

Catching errors

Due to the speed at which I’ll be proofreading, you must also expect a higher rate of outright missed errors/issues. A proofreader is unlikely to catch 100% of errors to begin with – we are only human after all, same as every other working professional – and the faster we have to go, the more will inevitably be missed.

I mitigate this by not just going fastfastfast and letting the chips fall where they may, and instead laying out a strategy to concentrate my efforts where they will make the most difference.