As an aspiring author, you must be overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions, and you cannot wait to see your book on the bookshelf. But before the final publication, you will want to have your book edited and proofread.

As an author, it doesn’t matter how many times you have read your book; there will be a point where it can be challenging to detect mistakes when you are quite familiar with the content of your book.

Suppose you haven’t looked into your book for a little while after releasing the book for the world to read, and on a random day, you decide to scan through your book to refresh your memory. All of a sudden, you bump into a typo.

How embarrassing is that? At this point, you will regret not having hired a professional proofreader.

If you are still confused about what a proofreader does and why you need one, you will want to read on to learn more about the potential benefits of hiring a proofreader before releasing your book.

Different Stages of Editing that Your Book Goes Through

If you are reading someone’s book and you feel as if it requires a massive overhaul – are you allowed to dive in there and tear the book into pieces, or will you be holding yourself back a bit? To understand what a proofreader does – you will have to understand the different stages of editing that a book goes through.

Level 1 – Copy Editing

The first level of editing would be hiring a copy editor. A proofreader can also be the one doing copy editing, but sometimes the author might hire a copy editor before it is sent to the proofreader. The copy editor is fairly hands-on.

The copy editor will edit the raw copy/ the raw writing – and typically, the copy editor will work closely with the author. So, if you are hiring a copy editor, they will ask you questions while negotiating changes while assessing the overall content.

So, looking at the bigger-picture things, such as structure and tone of voice, is also something that the copy editor will be responsible for. If you have written a non-fiction book, the copy editor will also check any visual devices, such as graphs and charts, and see whether the visual devices are appropriate to the content.

A copy editor might work in one or two ways – they might edit on screen or use paper or the printed copy of the document.

Level 2 – Proofreading

Now that we have covered what a copy editor will do let us look at the things that a proofreader will do. Typically, the proofreader will correct the document after the copy editor after the manuscript has been laid out.

So, typically, the proofreader might work more closely with the graphic designer who is laying out the copy. So, the proofreader will be checking for things that might not be of much concern to the copy editor.

For instance, the proofreader will assess the layout of the manuscript. They will also assess the typography of the manuscript and see whether the fonts look okay. The proofreader will also assess the manuscript and see whether the document looks visually consistent.

Difference between Copy-Editing & Proofreading

First, you need to understand that if you are referring to the traditional publishing process, proofreading and copyediting are two separate stages that come at different points in the process.

As mentioned before, the process of copyediting comes first. Once the author has completed their writing and done as much as they can, they are happy with it. It gets handed over to the copy editor.

Now the copy-editor acts as a fresh pair of eyes, and they impose consistency in writing. So, the copy editor will look at things, such as the sentence level, while assessing the structure and flow of the sentences to ensure that they aren’t all short or too long.

The copy editor might do a bit of re-ordering and restructuring to improve the flow and induce variety and rhythm. The copy editor also ensures consistency in writing; the copy editor will ensure that if you have a style sheet, it has been used properly.

Things like capitalization, hyphenation, spelling, and word choices – all of these are ensured by the copywriter that they are coherent and consistent throughout the manuscript.

When it comes to proofreading is the final stage before you hit publish. Also, the proofreader is usually the last set of eyes on your writing. The proofreader is the gatekeeper before things go live; as such, it is the proofreader’s job to ensure that everything is as perfect as possible.

The proofreader will look for any errors and omissions you might have missed during the copy-editing phase. The proofreader will also look for things you might have introduced in error in the design and layout process, which can sometimes happen.

The proofreader will ensure that the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are absolutely correct. The proofreader is also quite meticulous with their style sheet. They make sure that the style is consistent throughout the manuscript.

The proofreader also ensures that all your page numbers are accurate, and they ensure that all of your headers are accurate.

The Takeaway

By now, you might have understood how proofreading differs from copyediting and why both stages are crucial for your book writing and publishing project. It is important to mention here that it is not your proofreader’s job to fix your colon, hyphens, semi-colons, etc.

A very good way to think of proofreaders is that they are like quality assurance. Before the book gets to the proofreader, you have all your editing completed; all your formatting is done along with the book cover.

Your book is ready to go out to readers. The proofreader will be the very last professional who gets their eyes on the proof copy to make sure that what is going out to your readers is actually what you want to go out to your readers.