The proofreading process - what to do next. Calendar and laptop on desk in black and white

If you’re a new author, who hasn’t published a book before, the proofreading process can be very daunting.

In fact, the whole publishing process can be daunting. Writing the book might actually be the bit you find easiest. This is why I’ve decided to outline the whole proofreading process so you know what it involves, how long it might take, what it might cost, and what the steps are after you’ve had your book edited.


Find an editor or proofreader

This seems like an obvious step, but you need to find the right editor for you. Do you want someone who does all kinds of editing as well as proofreading, or do you want one person to edit and one to proofread?

Different editors have different specialities. There’s no point sending your poetry manuscript to an editor who has no experience with this style or genre. You should take the time to think about who the best person is for the job. Spend some time on Google, and make sure they’re fully qualified. Remember that cheap is never the answer. It’s always worth spending more for a quality editor who will do the best job.

Similarly, you might want to think about location. Do you want to be able to discuss ideas with your editor face-to-face? Or have a weekly meeting? It would be better to hire someone in your local area.

Also set your price range. Editors and proofreaders come with all sorts of different prices, so figure out a reasonable budget and find someone you can afford.


Get in touch with them

When you first approach someone, you should ask if they have the time to edit your book. There’s no point choosing them if you want the book back within a month, and they have no room for another six.

Send an introductory email explaining a little bit about your book, its genre, and how many words it is. Then ask if they can take on the task. Don’t just email them with the whole manuscript attached and ask if they can get it done in a week. This is not a good start.


Ask for a sample edit

The next step in the proofreading process is to ask for a sample edit. Most editors will do this for you free of charge. A sample edit is when an editor will edit a small section of your novel (between 2-10 pages) so you can see how they work. You should absolutely ask an editor to do this as it shows you how thorough they are, and that they’re a quality editor. You’ll be able to see from the sample edit if you like the work they do.

Editors also require sample edits so they can give you a full quote. It’s tough for us to provide quotes if we haven’t seen an example of your writing. If there is punctuation in all the wrong places, it will take the editor longer to complete, thus they’ll charge you more.


Send your manuscript over

Once you’ve found an editor, and discussed time scale, cost, and other things, you can send them your book. Then the only thing to do is wait to hear back from your editor. You can of course send an email checking up on how things are going, but refrain from doing this every other day. Once in the whole process is enough.



Your editor will return the manuscript by the agreed date, and usually only after they’ve been paid. When this happens, you should go through their notes and comments slowly. They’ll most likely be expecting some kind of query from you. In a book of 3000-5000 edits, you’re likely to have a few questions about why they’ve done something a certain way.

Don’t feel bad about going back to them if you’re unsure of anything. They should absolutely be willing to explain some of their decisions to you. You can also ask for more clarification on some points, or ask them to expand on their feedback. The feedback works both ways.


What to do after the proofreading process

So the proofreading process is complete and you’ve successfully had your book edited and proofread. Now you’re ready for publishing. I’ll be doing an expanded post about this, but for now you can follow the bullet points below:

  • Choose a self-publishing option, e.g. print on demand, and then hire a printer or self-publisher.
  • Apply for an ISBN. All books need this, including self-published ones.
  • Set the price for your book, based on the cost of self-publishing. You want to be making a profit on each one.
  • Set a publication date.
  • Get the manuscript’s interior designed, e.g. margins, font, etc.
  • Hire a professional designer to create your book cover.
  • Ask your designer to create website headers and social images too.
  • Start marketing your book way ahead of the publication date to get some word out in advance
  • Develop an author website for you so you can promote your book.
  • Begin pre-selling your novel. You should send out press materials, promote it to book distributors, get in touch with booksellers to see if they’ll stock it, etc. Sending Advanced copies to bloggers is a good way of getting word around.
  • Publish the book, and ship to anyone who has requested/bought a copy
  • Continue to constantly market and promote your book, and ship it to anyone who buys it.
The Proofreading Process: How To

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