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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Why hire a Proofreader?

Article by Malika Gandhi

We all like to write and produce something worthwhile for our readers to appreciate. A document or a novel without correct punctuation or spelling will be confusing and even jarring to read, therefore the writer must make sure that his/her work is proofread.

What is the difference between a proofreader and a copy-editor? Doesn’t a copy-editor do what a proofreader does, in which case why would I need to hire a proofreader?

The difference between proofreading and copy-editing is practically a hairline difference but which can make your work stand out. A proofreader looks at common errors such as typos and grammatical slip ups in a work piece. It is a final read-through before being published as a novel, periodical, magazine or a piece for the World Wide Web.

A copy-editor looks at all these things as a whole and corrects not only the spelling, punctuation and spacing but also fills in any gaps which the writer may have missed in terms of plot, paragraph structure, repetition etc. After many drafts or rewrites whilst working with the copy-editor, having a proofreader look at the final draft is not a bad idea.

“But I can proofread myself, why should I hire a proofreader?”

This is a good question and a sound one at that. Our own writing is too close to us, which makes us see words as correct when they are not. Our mind overrides misspelt words and we work on, oblivious to any mistakes. A proofreader will be able to ‘see’ these errors when we, as writers, will probably not.

If you are a novelist, it is even more important to get your work perfect in grammar and punctuation. The majority of first-time novelists try and publish their works through a traditional route – through traditional publishers and agents. To avoid rejection from an agent or publisher, it is ten times more important to that first-time novelist to make sure there are no errors in his/her novel.

English is a complex language which is not only spoken differently but also written differently. Some countries follow the UK version when some follow the US version. Bearing this in mind, the proofreader will look at the work subjectively and work towards it in the correct frame of mind.

A little something to think about, of a certain little punctuation...

Let me tell you something about the Apostrophe. We all get confused with this little squiggly punctuation. We are constantly questioning ourselves – where and how do we use it? Let me explain. The apostrophe is used when letters are missed out in a word, such as “did not” becomes “didn’t” and “ he is” becomes “he’s”. It is also used to show possession, like a boy’s toy car or Mrs Rich’s expensive handbag.

The only time it is not used is when we are talking of something, for example, dinners.

The apostrophe is such a punctuation that even the most qualified and experienced, can get wrong. Like the apostrophe, there is also the comma, the speech marks, the semi-colon...and the list goes on. Is the writer expected to remember where and when each one is used? Maybe so, but this is where hiring a proofreader can become useful.

A storm is coming our way; I feel the change. The heart is hardening. Gandhi has come and has made his decision. 

Malika Gandhi works at night when the house has gone to sleep and when the best of nature is awake. She hears nothing...just quiet. 

Born in India, Malika moved to England when only two with her mother and brother. Her father had left India in the seventies and once settled, called her and the rest of the family over.

Malika has grown up in London and sees herself as a British Indian. She believes she has the best of two worlds. She is a mother of two and now lives with her husband and two boys in the East Midlands, UK, where she is a home-maker, a writer and a proofreader.

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