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Editors vs. Proofreaders

Editors correct and adapt text while proofreaders simply check the text before it goes to market.

In general, it sounds like they do the same thing, but that’s not actually the case. Correcting and adapting text is a bit more difficult and time-consuming than pointing out misspelled words and errors in punctuation or textual inconsistencies.

Once your editors have corrected issues at the core of your writing like language structure and sentence clarity, then you can send your updated manuscript to proofreaders who will fine-tune the smaller details like misspelled words or errors in punctuation that weren’t caught by the editors.

Many proofreaders will provide their services in exchange for a signed copy of the book and possibly a mention in the acknowledgments. Editors, however, expect to be paid and the really good ones don’t come cheap.

There are two types of editors you will want to employ – line editors and copy editors.

Line editors, sometimes called stylistic editors, are attentive to your writing style. With that in mind, they will review your manuscript line by line looking to sharpen and clarify language while tuning up sentence structure. Copy editors fact-check and scrutinize grammar, syntax, and punctuation. Both are indispensable in helping you get your product ready for the marketplace.

How much do they charge? Their fees vary based on their education, skill level, and experience in the industry. Prices range anywhere from $25 to $80 per hour and up. At best, you’re looking at about 10 pages of editing per hour. If you’ve submitted a 300-page manuscript, you’re talking about anywhere from $750 to $2,400 or more. Good work doesn’t come cheap, but a good editor is well worth the expense.

One way to keep the costs down is to do your own thorough edit prior to submitting your work to a paid editor. The fewer mistakes they have to correct, the faster the process goes. That means fewer hours committed and less money spent.

How many do you need? When you are just starting out, you might settle for one copy editor and two or three proofreaders. Mistakes will get through to your final product, but they shouldn’t be overly detrimental. Once you’re established, you definitely want to add in a line editor and a few more proofreaders. Consistent mistakes will turn your readers off and could lead to damaging reviews.

On a final note, I’ll say this: Try to avoid the temptation to use friends or family in editing your work. Like it or not, they are biased, want you to succeed, and will often be reluctant to point out the more serious issues. Also, there is a huge gap in experience and expertise between a random friend or family member and an established editor. Of course, you can still use them as proofreaders; the more you have the better your book.

Once again, thanks for reading and see you soon…

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