The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Why an Indie Author Must Hire a Proofreader

“Struggling with the decision to hire a proofreader?

“It seems like it should be a no-brainer. After all, who can possibly write a novel while they’re busy checking grammar, punctuation, and spelling? Certainly, not me. But as indie authors, we’re on a tight budget. So, is this really where we need to put our money? After all, how many mistakes can you really have in one little book?”

Source: Five Reasons Why an Indie Author Must Hire a Proofreader – Where Writers Win

I’ve gotten used to the fact that as a writer, I’m the worst person in the world to search for errors in my own work. I can’t see the forest for the trees because I’m seeing the forest (the story) so clearly that details such as misspelled words and incorrectly capitalized names just disappear.

Those mistakes can hurt your book because most of us grew up with professionally published books from BIG PUBLISHERS where editors, copy editors and proofreaders swarm over every syllable of the manuscript before it gets to the reader. It’s impossible to replicate all the supporting talent if you’re a one-man or a one-woman show.

–Malcolm

P.S. A note on terminology: copy editors edit copy, which is another word for your manuscript. Then, whether you’re using offset printing or publishing an e-book via Kindle, the formatted (or typeset) material is what the proofreader looks at. A proof is a copy of the manuscript as it will look on the page or the screen once it’s published.

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6 thoughts on “Why an Indie Author Must Hire a Proofreader

  1. As an indie author, I’m a business person. As a business person, I care (or should care) about the bottom line. It seems to me that the decision to hire a proofreader should come down to:

    Will the service provided by the proofreader increase my book sales by a greater amount than the cost I’m paying the proofreader?

    Put another way, does eliminating typos from my book really result in me selling more copies?

    • These days, most self-published and small press books receive most of their reviews from readers and from reviewing sites that can often be quite brutal if they find an excessive number of errors or factual mistakes. Once these reviews are posted, they dissuade others from buying the book.

      If the book initially sells a lot of copies before somebody points out the errors, then word-of-mouth will end up spoiling the book’s reputation as friends tell friends that the book is full of mistakes. Since most readers aren’t writers, they’ll attribute those mistakes to author incompetence or laziness rather than understanding the author can’t see those mistakes. Bottom line, the mistakes shouldn’t be there.

      • You make these comments about the reviews impacting sales negatively, but I can’t find any indie authors who report lower sales based on such reviews.

        In truth, I just don’t think there’s a lot of causation there. Sure, you may turn some readers off, but the vast majority simply won’t notice. And of those that do, few will care.

        Is pleasing those few people really worth the extra hundred bucks or more that proofreaders charge?

  2. One has no way of knowing how many sales s/he loses due to bad word of mouth and bad reviews. When people don’t buy, they seldom post to some database that tallies up the why of it.

    Plus, of the author cares about his/her art, why would s/he want it to go out with a bunch of errors in it? Too many people are slinging this stuff out as though quality just doesn’t matter. That’s one reason indie authors are having more trouble than they should getting taken seriously.

    There are alternatives to proofreaders and editors: have a lot of beta readers or find college English majors who are willing to go through it for a lower cost.

    Whether readers care or not, the author should care.

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