Desk with a phone, keyboard, notebook and pen on it.

As a proofreader, I come across the “Good, cheap, fast proofreader” problem every single working day.

How many times have I heard: “My budget is [X] but I need it back in three days” or “That’s slightly over my budget. Can you spend less time on the book?”

I do understand that, as an author, you might have taken weeks off work to finalise your book and make sure it is ready for self-publishing. Therefore, I know that it’s frustrating when you send it off to a proofreader and can’t have it back within a week. But good work takes time.

I like to read my client’s books twice: once for plot and then once for analysis, plot errors, and deep reading. I like to analyse every sentence. Take this example:

True self-control is waiting until the movie starts to eat your popcorn“.

But why would the movie eat my popcorn? (I’ll give you a moment to think about that.)

Though it is technically grammatically correct, sentences like that can confuse the reader, simply by changing the place you take a slight pause:

True self-control is waiting … until the movie … starts to eat your popcorn

True self-control is waiting … until the movie starts … to eat your popcorn

The way we emphasise certain words changes the whole meaning of the sentence, which is what I’m looking out for when reading your work. In this example, I would change it to say:

True self-control is waiting for the movie to start before eating your popcorn.

Such mistakes will not be picked up by anyone who takes the good, cheap, fast proofreader approach.

The total I’ve spent so far on editorial training is £385. I’m planning on buying another two courses in the near future, which will set me back a further £298.

My clients pay for the skills and knowledge I possess that other people do not. Anyone with cheaper prices will not be as well-learned.

If an editor did promise you a three-day return with no price increase, then run in the opposite direction. No good proofreader will ever accept a job with minimum notice without adding at least a 10% quick turnaround charge.


Avoid cheap and fast: they won’t be good.

Consider fast and good, though they might be expensive

Choose average prices and good services, though understand that your manuscript may take a bit longer being returned to you.


A Good, Cheap, Fast Proofreader: Why They Don’t Exist

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