Monday, October 18, 2021

FINAL PROOFREADING OF YOUR FICTION OR NONFICTION MANUSCRIPT

by Jodie Renner, editor & author 

Has your fiction or nonfiction manuscript already been edited? Or you've received extensive feedback and have made revisions? I'll do a detailed proofread for word choice, grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, stylistic consistency, repetitions, indents, spaces, formatting, headings, subheadings, and more. 

Besides being an award-winning author and independent publisher, I'm a former English teacher with a master's degree and have been a professional editor since 2007. My main reference guides are The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. If you have a preferred house style guide, I will use that.

My fee for final proofreading is $7 - $12 per 1000 words (minimum 9,000 words). Turnaround time is usually two weeks or less, depending on the length of the manuscript.

I will send you back both a marked-up copy, where you can "accept" or "reject" my changes if you wish, and a "clean" copy, with all my changes accepted. Both have comments in the margin.

Please note: Proofreading does not include editing for plot, characterization, dialogue, point of view, author intrusions, showing instead of telling, voice, logistics, discrepancies, pacing, or other effective fiction-writing techniques, all of which I look for in my editing services. Proofreading is the final step in the editing process.

Proofreading is best done after a manuscript has undergone a thorough line edit or copy edit, or the author has had significant feedback and has done a lot of revisions. There's no point in having a manuscript proofread if it's going to undergo significant changes, which would then require another proofreading pass at additional cost.

Below are some of the problems I look for when proofreading your fiction or nonfiction manuscript aimed at a general readership. (I don’t proofread academic or scientific documents.)

I LOOK FOR:

Spelling and word choice confusions:

  • Spelling errors and typos: I'll check for errors that spellcheck won’t catch, including common typing mistakes (e.g. "manger" instead of "manager", "fried" instead of "friend", etc.) and embarrassing errors, such as the "l" missing in "public".
  • Confusions between homophones, e.g., you're/your or there/they’re/their or effect/affect or peak/peek or counsel/council
  • Missing words, e.g., "to hospital" or word doubles, e.g. the the
  • Incorrect word choice (word used doesn’t fit the meaning desired), e.g. adverse/averse
  • Incorrect hyphenation of words and phrases. Is it takedown, take-down, or take down? follow-up or follow up? rear-view mirror or rearview mirror?
  • Misuse of definite and indefinite articles (the/a/an)
  • Misuse of prepositions (of, at, in, from, between, among, etc.)

Grammar and sentence structure:

  • Incomplete sentences, run-on sentences
  • Overly long, convoluted sentences
  • Inconsistent verb tenses (e.g., mixing past tense and present tense)
  • Lack of parallelism in lists
  • Passive rather than active voice

Repetitions and redundancies:

  • The same noticeable or specific word or root word used within a sentence or paragraph, e.g., “two big stacks of files were stacked on her desk.” or “Music blasted from a bar. A cold blast of air hit his face.
  • Overuse of words such as that, very, just, quite, smiled, etc.
  • Overuse of generic words such as “thing” or “good” or “big” or “walked” instead of more specific words
  • Overuse of speech tags where not needed.

Capitalization and Punctuation:

  • Missing, extra, or misused commas
  • Confusion between hyphens, em dashes, and en dashes
  • Incorrect punctuation and/or capitalization for dialogue
  • Incorrect use of apostrophes
  • Incorrect or overuse of semicolons, colons, and ellipses
  • Missing end (closing) quotation marks, parentheses, and periods
  • Inconsistent capitalization of words and phrases
  • Inconsistent or incorrect capitalization and punctuation for lists

Overuse or misuse of italics, underlining, bolding, or all caps:

  • Generally, italics are more acceptable for emphasis than underlining, bolding, or all caps
  • Italics for some but not all foreign phrases

Possible inappropriate style or word choices for your target readership:

I'll flag for your attention:

  • Jargon – technical terminology that a general readership might not understand
  • Pretentious language – wording or phrasing that might seem overly erudite, haughty, or condescending to your target readers.
  • Course language and profanities: If they seem a bit overdone, I might point them out and you can decide whether to keep them or tone them down.

Stylistic inconsistency:

  • Inconsistency of style and tone (word choices, sentence structure), based on target readership
  • Overly formal or overly casual wording that doesn’t fit the overall style
  • Consistency of UK, US, Canadian, or Australian spelling (labour/labor, theatre/theater, travelling/traveling, judgement/judgment, licence/license, organise/organize, etc.)
  • Inconsistent treatment of numbers (30/thirty, 65/sixty-five)
  • Inconsistent capitalization and punctuation in headings and subheadings
  • Inconsistent or incorrect capitalization and punctuation in lists
  • Inconsistent presentation of abbreviations (e.g. Nasa/NASA/N.A.S.A. or U.S./US)

Basic formatting issues:

  • Inconsistent font style or size
  • Incorrect spacing between words, sentences, and paragraphs
  • Inconsistent paragraph indentation and spacing
  • Incorrect or missing page breaks between chapters
  • Inconsistent formatting of headings and subheadings
  • Inconsistent formatting of lists and bullet points
  • Inconsistencies between the Table of Contents and the actual headings and subheadings

WHAT TO SEND ME WHEN YOU FIRST CONTACT ME FOR PROOFREADING:

If you’d like me to do a thorough, professional final proofread of your manuscript, please email me at info@jodierenner.com with:

  • Whether it's fiction or nonfiction
  • The subject or genre
  • Total word count
  • British, American, Canadian, or Australian English
  • Target readership
  • Your preferred style (chatty, casual, formal, businesslike, etc.)
  • A brief description of what it’s about (one paragraph)
  • 10 pages of the document
  • Your preferred deadline


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction:
FIRE UP YOUR FICTION, CAPTIVATE YOUR READERS, and WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, as well as two clickable time-saving e-resources, QUICK CLICKS: Spelling List and QUICK CLICKS: Word Usage. She has also organized and edited two anthologies. Website: https://www.jodierenner.com/, Facebook, Amazon Author Page.

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