Friday, June 10, 2011

Surprisingly Easy Ways to Do Your Own Proofreading

Yesterday my guest, Karen Elliott, offered advice on how to hire a professional proofreader/copy editor. But what if the cost is just too much? You may have other options. I arranged an exchange with a writer friend who also works as a proofreader. She proofed my manuscript for The Eyes of Pharaoh; I critiqued her young adult novel. Here’s Karen with some more ideas.

Karen Elliott

Even with my more-than-reasonable proofreading rates, I’ve had several writers say they just can’t afford it. I can dig it! There are other options available for getting your manuscript proofread and edited.

Writer’s group – If you feel you can’t afford a proofreader, join a writer’s critique group in your area. A good writer’s group is invaluable! If you can’t find a group, start one!

Exchange services – With other professionals – I’ll read yours if you read mine. Or trade one service for another. I proofread a monthly newsletter for Anne Hillerman and her Wordharvest workshops and in turn get a free ad in her newsletter. This exchange is a benefit to us both.
Join Linked In – This is a great way to find other professionals in the publishing industry. There are literally hundreds of groups for writers broken down by genre, e-book vs. print, and a lot of other in-betweens.

Online exchange – Join an online exchange group or forum like Fictionaut, Dropbox,, or Yahoo groups for writers.

Join Facebook groups – One of my most favorite, supportive, and positive groups is Writer Unboxed. On Facebook there are pages and groups galore!  

Proofreading sites and blogs – Search for sites and blogs – like Grammar Girl – that share proofreading and copy editing tips.

Dictionary Plus – It’s not enough to have a dictionary (or to use an online dictionary). You should have a couple/few other desk references for grammar and punctuation – like The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation or Diane Hacker’s Rules for Writers.

Subscribe – Pick one or two magazines that are geared toward writers like Writer’s Digest, Writers’ Journal, or The Writer. Every month I find at least a couple of articles in these periodicals worth their weight in gold. If you don’t want to fork over the subscription price, ask for them at your local library.

Start saving – Perhaps you could afford a proofreader if you did a little belt-tightening. With the recession in full swing and gas prices sky-rocketing, a plethora of websites with money-saving ideas have popped up. Do you really need a $5 latte every morning?  

CE: Thanks, Karen, for all the good advice! Readers, remember that you need to recognize where you can legitimately cut corners, and where that will catch up with you. Some people just can’t seem to learn how to spot errors in their own manuscript, no matter how hard they try (dyslexia, anyone?). Some critique groups contain a Grammar Maven, while other critique partners may focus more on content (which really should be their priority). Know what you’re capable of, what you’re getting from others, and when to seek professional help – the proofreading kind, I mean!

About Karen: “I am a voracious, nit-picky proofreading shark! I was raised by two women - a mother who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could do the New York Times crossword in a day, in pen. Please see testimonials, commitment statement, and other information at my blog.”


  1. Good advice. I learned where I can go for help.

  2. This was a helpful post. I like the various sites and the suggestions about swapping services. Thanks!

  3. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing this "Easy Ways to Do Your Own Proofreading" I want to try if I can also make it on my own. Thanks!


  4. Very interesting article. I've always been interested in knowing more about this online proofreading .