Author Topic: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)  (Read 899 times)

JRTomlin

Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« on: November 24, 2019, 08:30:33 AM »
I decided to have one last proofread of Noble Traitor although it has already had a line edit. It's just too easy for something to be missed or a new error to slip in. (especially since the accuracy in my typing seems to have gone to hell) So I went to look for a proofreader who could take a job with a quick turnaround and able to start very soon. I own Grammarly and knew they had a proofread service so I decided to give them a look. For a 70k novel they charge more than $1000 for a simple proofread.

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2019, 10:11:22 AM »
That's amazing. I wonder if anyone ever actually pays that much for a proofread?


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JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2019, 11:11:51 AM »
There probably are people out there who don't realise how overpriced that is.
 

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2019, 11:53:50 AM »
There probably are people out there who don't realise how overpriced that is.
Yeah, newbies might not know. After, people get sucked into worse deals than that, especially starting out.


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LilyBLily

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2019, 02:03:17 PM »
I've been paid the equivalent for a proofread in the past, I suspect. Decades ago. 

I did the math on the $1k rate and basically, either the proofer is getting all of the money and proofing 7 pages an hour on a 250-word page and earning $25 an hour, or the agency is taking a big cut off the top--it could easily be 50%--and the proofer is doing at least 14 pages an hour to earn $25 an hour. This translates to 12 pages an hour on a 300-word page. Some proofreaders, like I was, are very fast. Others are slow.

Fiction is relatively easy to proofread, which is nice, but it's the time involved that should dictate the remuneration, not what one is reading. Yet that's not how it works in the indie world. I routinely buy $50-$100 proofreads and am satisfied with the results. Some are done by U.S. citizens and some are done by people elsewhere in the world. (No book will be perfect, regardless.)

I do worry that we are forcing people to accept piecework at very low rates. OTOH, they're getting work. This is always the difficult issue for any freelancer, and it is the primary reason that we find typos in trad pub books, because trad pubs have driven their rates so low that only top speed makes the work better paid than serving fries at McDonald's.

 

JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2019, 02:15:31 PM »
I usually pay around $150 or so for a proofread of a novel. I often pay for more than one because you can't expect one person to catch all the errors. But I pay that because it is the going rate amongst the proofreaders I see. I wouldn't scream if it went up a bit. Like all of us they have to make a living. But $1000+ (and it was quite a bit +) is laughable. As you say, most likely the company skims off the majority of it. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't take more than 50% because not many proofreaders are paid $500 for a regular length novel.
 

David VanDyke

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2019, 08:49:54 AM »
It all depends on whether it's (merely) a proofread, a line edit, a copy edit, or whatever. Of course a mere proofread should be cheap, in the 0.1 to 0.3c/word range ($100-300 for a 100K novel).

Many good proofreaders add more than proofreading--in essence beta reading and giving feedback. How much and of what kind and whether it's what you want is always negotiable along with the price.

Thus, there's really no single "right answer" when it comes to proofreading/editing/feedback. For example, for certain friends and certain other pro sci-fi authors I do edits, and I charge a minimum of 1c/word, often more. I don't try to give a book definition of what this means, but for that price they get a great proofread, plus lots of feedback on everything that occurs to me--plot holes, characterization issues, word choices, awkward bits, whatever. I've never had anyone tell me they overpaid, yet I'm not doing one of these for anything less than $1K. Even then, in the strictest sense I'm probably losing money--but I do it now and again to maintain relationships and help out friends and colleagues.

I only point this out to illustrate that you can't tell merely by price. It's value for money that matters, and that's by agreement between the provider and customer.
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JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2019, 09:30:34 AM »
Yes, I can tell that that is very much overpriced for a proofread. That is not an unreasonable price for a developmental edit from an experienced editor. I'm sorry if I stepped on your toes about pricing, David, but what you are describing is not a proofread. It is an edit whether you choose to call it that or not. Fixing plot holes, characterization issues, word choice, etc must be done before the proofread because fixing them will put in new errors. They always do. So a proofread, which solely addresses inconsistencies in spelling and sometimes grammar and punctuation, must come last. It is the last part of the editing/publishing process.

It is doing a disservice to newer people in the field to say that it is a reasonable price for a proofread because it isn't. I stand by my opinion on that.
 
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Crystal

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2019, 11:13:43 AM »
I've had issues with proofers at a variety of price points. So many want to line edit and change my style. Others make outdated changes. Semicolons and that, oh my! Thank God I found my current proofer who forgives my flakey moments and always returns relatively clean manuscripts on the timeline she promised (with no style changes).

I expect to pay $200-400/proof, depending on the timeline (more for a rush order) and length of my book (80-100k+ words).
 
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W.R. Gingell

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2019, 09:32:17 AM »
I've had issues with proofers at a variety of price points. So many want to line edit and change my style. Others make outdated changes.

Ugh, YES. This is why I don't work with editors much. Some of them seem to think it's okay to put their own words in ("to clarify" they say, while changing the complete meaning of the sentence or paragraph from what was intended, to what they want it to mean) or change my words. I've worked with a publishing house's editor, and even they didn't do that. I've noticed it's mostly indie or freelance editors that think it's okay to write themselves or their style in.

I'll just stick with my beta readers and a proof-reader or two, thank you very much. At least they're not trying to insert themselves into my book, AND they make amazing suggestions or highlight bits that they think are unclear, which is SO much more useful than trying to change an author's words!
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JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2019, 12:09:53 PM »
To be clear a proofreader should only correct errors not make or suggest stylistic changes. Not that you don't occasionally run into one who does, which I did recently and she lost my business.
 

Mark Gardner

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2019, 12:20:31 PM »
Iíve been lucky to find a fantastic line editor. I expect sheíll point out flaws in the story, repetitive and repeated words, grammar issues, and repetitive and repeated words. Plus she swears (I donít trust people who donít swear). A proofreader I expect to catch grammar, spelling, punctuation, and oddities with em-dashes.
 
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David VanDyke

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2019, 01:35:45 AM »
To be clear a proofreader should only correct errors not make or suggest stylistic changes. Not that you don't occasionally run into one who does, which I did recently and she lost my business.

That's your prescription for a proofreader--which is fine.

But others may not have the same prescription.

It's all about being happy with the service provided, and communicating the client's needs and desires to the provider, and the provider sticking to those needs and desires.

Some authors may embrace stylistic suggestions. Some may not. As long as the author and proofreader are on the same page, pun intended, it's all good.
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LilyBLily

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2019, 01:48:00 AM »
I've been a proofreader for traditional publishers for over four decades. You can redefine what a proofreader is to your heart's content, but there actually are basic standards.

Things a proofreader should do:

Correct spacing and punctuation errors.
Correct spelling, ideally according to a style sheet provided by the copyeditor or the author.
Remember and check on the spelling of proper names throughout a book so they are consistent. Query if not.
Query malapropisms.
Query confusing sentences that may be missing words.

Proofreaders are not there to:

Correct grammar.
Correct style.
Correct plot.
Rewrite sentences.

This is clear enough, but I, too, have been annoyed by proofreaders who take it upon themselves to change my sentences to please themselves. This is not proofreading. It's editing. If I didn't ask for editing, that means I don't want editing.
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2019, 02:25:32 AM »
To be clear a proofreader should only correct errors not make or suggest stylistic changes. Not that you don't occasionally run into one who does, which I did recently and she lost my business.

That's your prescription for a proofreader--which is fine.

But others may not have the same prescription.

It's all about being happy with the service provided, and communicating the client's needs and desires to the provider, and the provider sticking to those needs and desires.

Some authors may embrace stylistic suggestions. Some may not. As long as the author and proofreader are on the same page, pun intended, it's all good.
To me, the issue is about definition rather than prescription. In other words, it's not about what I want a proofreader to do for me. It's about what the title means.

I'm not opposed to people bundling services together. If a proofreader advertises services that include some light editing, fine, as long as it's clear what's being included. But if a proofreader chooses to bundle light editing with proofreading, that shouldn't change the basic definition of what proofreading is.


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JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2019, 03:24:43 AM »
To be clear a proofreader should only correct errors not make or suggest stylistic changes. Not that you don't occasionally run into one who does, which I did recently and she lost my business.

That's your prescription for a proofreader--which is fine.

But others may not have the same prescription.

It's all about being happy with the service provided, and communicating the client's needs and desires to the provider, and the provider sticking to those needs and desires.

Some authors may embrace stylistic suggestions. Some may not. As long as the author and proofreader are on the same page, pun intended, it's all good.
David, it is a standard definition of a proofread, not mine.  It's not something I made up.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2019, 03:30:08 AM by JRTomlin »
 
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Jake

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2019, 05:37:05 AM »
It sounds like what David provides to certain friends and colleagues is a professional beta read. I pay for my beta reads and what he described sounded like what I usually get. But I have those done before my other editors work on the book.

When I do get to the proofreader stage the book is pretty much done. I'm looking for someone to catch any remaining typos and punctuation errors but I'm open to hearing of any other issues they may have found. To me a proofreader that goes above and beyond the scope of what I'm paying for is just adding extra value to their service. It's not like they're forcing me to accept their changes.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2019, 08:35:17 AM »
It sounds like what David provides to certain friends and colleagues is a professional beta read. I pay for my beta reads and what he described sounded like what I usually get. But I have those done before my other editors work on the book.

When I do get to the proofreader stage the book is pretty much done. I'm looking for someone to catch any remaining typos and punctuation errors but I'm open to hearing of any other issues they may have found. To me a proofreader that goes above and beyond the scope of what I'm paying for is just adding extra value to their service. It's not like they're forcing me to accept their changes.

Yeah, well, it's a drag to undo their changes, and meanwhile, they probably miss stuff they should be catching. That was my most recent experience with a pushy proofreader.

 
 
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JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2019, 02:27:21 PM »
It sounds like what David provides to certain friends and colleagues is a professional beta read. I pay for my beta reads and what he described sounded like what I usually get. But I have those done before my other editors work on the book.

When I do get to the proofreader stage the book is pretty much done. I'm looking for someone to catch any remaining typos and punctuation errors but I'm open to hearing of any other issues they may have found. To me a proofreader that goes above and beyond the scope of what I'm paying for is just adding extra value to their service. It's not like they're forcing me to accept their changes.
Exactly. It is already done including editing. Further, there will not normally be another proofread, so if they put in changes those may involve additional typos. That means typos won't be caught OR it causes me the cost of yet another proofread. So I do not want anything but a proofread when I order one.

I am not sure if what David provides is a professional beta read or a developmental edit. Either of those is worth paying for and do cost substantially more than a proofread.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2019, 08:37:23 PM »
When I get a proofread, the reader gets the book on their kindle, and they give me a list of search terms (usually 3 words), and whatever the correction is.

I dont let anyone near the book itself, so no-one is changing anything except me.

They are free to ask a question, or point out something doesn't read well, but they cant change it.
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David VanDyke

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2019, 03:44:56 AM »
Yes, part of the issue here may be procedural. Like Tim, I don't let anyone near my master MS. When I have an edit or proofread or beta read of any sort, regardless of definition, I open the inputs on a separate screen and I make manual changes in my master. That means nobody ever has a chance to overstep their bounds. If I like their edit or input, I use it. If not, I ignore it and move on to the next.

I've known authors who treat the redlined Word document that comes back as a new master, and IMO that's opening themselves up to a lot of grief. Sure, it's convenient to simply hit "accept change," but they lose a certain amount of control thereby. When it comes to my work, I'm all about creative control.
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JRTomlin

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2019, 05:40:20 AM »
I give them a Word file, but I open it separately from the original file and use Copy to put the sentence into Find on my copy. It is fairly fast and efficient.

I agree that using the redline file is a risky idea. But even if *I* am the one who types in changes, anyone who reads my post knows I am prone to typos. Anyone who has ever gone through after an edit and not found what is often called 'editing artifacts' where they made a mistake in an making an edit is a better person than me. When I order a proofread, what I want is a proofread fixing any remaining typos mainly but also possibly punctuation or malapropisms, nothing else. 😜
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 05:47:02 AM by JRTomlin »
 
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thatdraeperson

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2019, 06:08:37 PM »
Hi everyone. Forum newbie here. :mhk9U91:

I've had issues with proofers at a variety of price points. So many want to line edit and change my style. Others make outdated changes.

Ugh, YES. This is why I don't work with editors much. Some of them seem to think it's okay to put their own words in ("to clarify" they say, while changing the complete meaning of the sentence or paragraph from what was intended, to what they want it to mean) or change my words...

I'll just stick with my beta readers and a proof-reader or two, thank you very much... AND they make amazing suggestions or highlight bits that they think are unclear, which is SO much more useful than trying to change an author's words!

This year I found quite a few issues caused by one of my at-the-time editors' change suggestions, but some of the blame lands firmly on my shoulders - I'd ignore niggling thoughts about the suggestions, or the sentences that didn't read like me. Later I compared it to the master document (I write on Google Docs then  export a Microsoft Word version for editors for track changes) and found changes that hadn't been tracked, that rewrote sentences in the same way you mention your experience of sentences being clarified. With this particular editor, each time they worked with me, their charge went up but their quality was going rapidly downhill. I don't know if they just didn't like what I wrote and it showed, or if it was they were ill some days they worked or what. I learned a lot from them in the early days of working with them and really appreciate the work they did on those projects, but the last few times... nope.

As an experiment, I did two of my books in a series without professional/freelance editors, and they're cleaner finished products. The downside is I'm now redoing final proof-reads for books that were released this year (including those ones that the above mentioned editor didn't work on). I found it incredibly worrying to release two indie projects without "professional" edits but I'm also glad I did it. I'm open to working with editors again in the future, but I'm even more wary of freelance editors than I was before (especially as anybody can say they're a, "professional editor" online).

Some authors may embrace stylistic suggestions. Some may not. As long as the author and proofreader are on the same page, pun intended, it's all good.

Agreeing here!

I've been a proofreader for traditional publishers for over four decades. You can redefine what a proofreader is to your heart's content, but there actually are basic standards.

Things a proofreader should do:

Correct spacing and punctuation errors.
Correct spelling, ideally according to a style sheet provided by the copyeditor or the author.
Remember and check on the spelling of proper names throughout a book so they are consistent. Query if not.
Query malapropisms.
Query confusing sentences that may be missing words.

Proofreaders are not there to:

Correct grammar.
Correct style.
Correct plot.
Rewrite sentences.

This is clear enough, but I, too, have been annoyed by proofreaders who take it upon themselves to change my sentences to please themselves. This is not proofreading. It's editing. If I didn't ask for editing, that means I don't want editing.

This was a lovely gem to find in this thread, thank you for sharing! This is what I thought the difference was too - final clean-up of smaller issues (not smaller as in importance, but in the speed and ease in which it takes to clean up the manuscript a little more after said feedback).

...I've known authors who treat the redlined Word document that comes back as a new master, and IMO that's opening themselves up to a lot of grief. Sure, it's convenient to simply hit "accept change," but they lose a certain amount of control thereby. When it comes to my work, I'm all about creative control.

Having a master document made the difference between pre- and post-editor clear this year for me.

Many of you mention proof-readers that charge both reasonably and varying amounts. How would you decide if a proof-reader (or a standard line-edit, for that matter) is worth the price they're asking? I've seen people offer samples, but an author buddy of mine that took a proof-reader up on a sample found that they were sloppy after securing the job with the sample.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2019, 06:22:35 PM by thatdraeperson »
 

LilyBLily

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2019, 01:12:48 AM »
Editors and proofreaders are generally offering us bargain prices well below professional rates and based on how messy our copy is. This is not unlike what happens in traditional publishing, where the rate is based on the complexity of the edit and measured by a third party to the contract, usually a production editor or estimator. Not the author.

However, we are not in a position to enforce the level of work servicers produce, other than by telling them directly we are unhappy and giving examples of why, or by walking away, or possibly by posting on threads that discuss services. Most of the time, unfortunately, we are all so risk averse we do not publicly call out any servicer. And most of us are unlikely to send an email telling someone they did a lousy job and they should fix it, or that we want a refund.

Additionally, were I offering my services to authors, I would not offer refunds. Authors range from incredibly unprofessional and ignorant to wonderfully professional and competent. It is not in a servicer's best interest to get involved with an unhappy author's wailing and gnashing of teeth when the fault could lie with the author. No proofreader will catch beyond a certain percentage of errors, and if your ms. is in lousy shape, that means there will be a fair number of errors left even after a really good job has been done on it. This is inevitable. Some authors pay for multiple proofreading passes, and they still get called out by readers for errors. The reason this happens is that there are so many errors to begin with.     

TL;dr  The short answer is that you can't be sure of the quality of any service until you have received it. Even if you liked a sample.

 
 
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Jeff Tanyard

Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2019, 07:19:20 AM »
Hi everyone. Forum newbie here. :mhk9U91:


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Brian Kittrell

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Re: Ummm... Really? (About a proofread)
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2020, 08:32:22 AM »
I would bet most of this cost is overhead that goes straight to the company, and the proofreaders might take home 20% of that fee. A lot of the time, they will outsource all of the work to places like Upwork or Mechanical Turk at a fraction of the cost.

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