Like all types of edits, proofreading can mean different things to different people. In its truest form, proofreading is, as the name suggests, reading a final proof.
Proofreading is for a completed manuscript that has already been edited, and most often, is already formatted for printing or ebook. It is the final reading before going to press (or Kindle).
Proofreading can either be a cold reading to check for typos that slipped through previous edits or can focus on checking the final version of the manuscript against an earlier version to ensure that no edits were missed, no new errors were introduced, and there are no issues with the formatting.
As long as the text has been previously edited and carefully formatted, there should be few errors found during a proofread.
Is a proofread right for my manuscript?
If you have an already polished manuscript, proofreading is an invaluable step in the editing process that ensures the manuscript you have already put so much care, time, and money into crafting makes it to your readers in the best possible shape.
Even a single duplicated word, missing punctuation mark, or misaligned paragraph can throw a reader out of a story or change their perception of the quality of a book. Proofreading focuses on combing through a manuscript to find the last previously missed errors so that you can present your readers with the cleanest possible book.
A proofread is intended as a last line of defense against rogue errors. Because the manuscript is considered essentially finished by the time it is being proofread, proofreading is an extremely careful reading that only corrects the most egregious errors. Proofreading is not an editing stage in which changes are made if they can be avoided because the more changes made in a final reading, the more likely it is that an error will be introduced.
If your text has not been previously edited by an editor, you need a copyedit, not a proofread. To avoid both wasting your money and my time, I will not proofread a manuscript that has clearly not been professionally edited.
If you can only afford one lower cost editing option for your manuscript, consider a light copyedit instead. It only costs a little more than a proofread and addresses far more issues.
I loved your copyedit. Can you also proofread my manuscript?
While I am happy to proofread any edited manuscript, if I have previously copyedited your text, it’s a far better idea to have a different editor do the proofread.
Even the best editors need editors themselves simply because a person can only read something so many times before they stop reading what is actually written on the page and start seeing what they think is on the page.
If I only did the early-stage developmental editing on your manuscript, then the text should have changed enough and/or enough time should have passed that I would be able to read your text with fresh eyes. Likewise, if it’s been at least a couple months since my last reading of the manuscript then it’s usually safe.
If I did an early copyedit for you and you now want a proofread of the same manuscript, I do offer a 25 percent discount on additional services for the same book.
Unless otherwise requested, a proofreading includes one careful reading of the manuscript.