Book Self-Publishers: Do you use Professional Proofreading Services or Not?

18 replies
How many of you have used professional proofreading services (PPS) in your books? Having read a few Kindle books on Amazon, half of them had many petty errors (bad use of comas, semi colons etc) which I hint as not having used PPS services.

However, considering that most books on Amazon are priced at 0.99 to 9.99, having to pay for PPS plus the design of the cover can add up to too much and it can take very long to break even, so I understand that some may decide to skip PPS. I am considering using PPS for my upcoming book but I'm still unsure.

Have you used PPSs before for your books? If so, what was your experience? Do you find that readers are OK with some errors on Amazon Kindle books, considering that they are indie books? I read on another site how someone said that getting a bad review on your book because of spelling/grammar mistakes was pretty much the worse review to get, especially if the content of the book is actually good.
#book #professional #proofreading #selfpublishers #services
  • Profile picture of the author websolution08
    I've used them,but only after the 5th published ebook, not just because of the price but because after 5 ebooks i started to understand how to properly promote the them and recover the expense in less time...
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    I guess you could say I use a semi-professional service - me. I call it semi-pro because it does take time to do that could potentially be spent elsewhere.

    I run manuscripts through a grammar checker, but I am not a slave to it. It generally catches the silly errors. Slavish devotion to perfect grammar is a great way to suck the life out of your writing.

    Originally Posted by MovingAround View Post

    How many of you have used professional proofreading services (PPS) in your books? Having read a few Kindle books on Amazon, half of them had many petty errors (bad use of comas, semi colons etc) which I hint as not having used PPS services.
    [smartass]

    If PPS stands for Professional Proofreading Services, would "not having used PPS services" read as "not having used Professional Proofreading Services services? :confused:

    [/smartass]
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    • Profile picture of the author MovingAround
      Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

      I guess you could say I use a semi-professional service - me. I call it semi-pro because it does take time to do that could potentially be spent elsewhere.

      I run manuscripts through a grammar checker, but I am not a slave to it. It generally catches the silly errors. Slavish devotion to perfect grammar is a great way to suck the life out of your writing.



      [smartass]

      If PPS stands for Professional Proofreading Services, would "not having used PPS services" read as "not having used Professional Proofreading Services services? :confused:

      [/smartass]
      LOL good spotting John, I actually had called it PR services initially but so as to not cause confusion with Public Relations, I decided to call it PPS and tried to rewrite the post, removing "services". I guess I should polish my proofreading skills! (though I've had a very hectic day and was tired).
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  • Profile picture of the author Ismael Zarruqui
    Proofreading is very important ..for kindle ebooks just outsource the writing or even find someone on fiverr to proofread your ebook it's very cheap and necessary to look professional ..so yes spend some money in promotion and before submitting your work you should search for errors in spelling, word usage, grammar, and punctuation. After all, a poorly written ebook cannot possibly communicate its message properly to the reader.
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    • Profile picture of the author MovingAround
      Originally Posted by margenia View Post

      Proofreading is very important ..for kindle ebooks just outsource the writing or even find someone on fiverr to proofread your ebook it's very cheap and necessary to look professional ..so yes spend some money in promotion and before submitting your work you should search for errors in spelling, word usage, grammar, and punctuation. After all, a poorly written ebook cannot possibly communicate its message properly to the reader.
      Fiver? Can one honestly get a good proofreading person for $5? I am genuinely asking as the cover is already setting me back a good amount so I need to be careful with how about spending more money on the book.

      The obvious spelling mistakes and the likes are fairly easy to correct, it's the whole grammar stuff that can throw one out. In terms of having grammar mistakes in one's book, what is acceptable from the reader's point of view (say incorrect use of a comma in place of a semi-colon)? I understand that spelling mistakes should be 0 as all word processors have spell checkers but what about grammar stuff that only highly knowledgeable readers (in grammar) could pick?
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by MovingAround View Post

        Fiver? Can one honestly get a good proofreading person for $5? I am genuinely asking as the cover is already setting me back a good amount so I need to be careful with how about spending more money on the book.
        This might be one area where you could stumble over someone who knows what they are doing. I've thought about listing there as a proofreader just to make a couple of dollars for reading something I might have otherwise purchased. After reading some of the samples people post on writers' forums, I changed my mind...

        Originally Posted by MovingAround View Post

        The obvious spelling mistakes and the likes are fairly easy to correct, it's the whole grammar stuff that can throw one out. In terms of having grammar mistakes in one's book, what is acceptable from the reader's point of view (say incorrect use of a comma in place of a semi-colon)? I understand that spelling mistakes should be 0 as all word processors have spell checkers but what about grammar stuff that only highly knowledgeable readers (in grammar) could pick?
        I would say that most readers wouldn't know perfect grammar is you slapped them on the butt with it. (Fifty Shades of Red Pencil, anyone?) If the prose flows, you can get away with the occasional punctuation error.

        As for spelling, the errors that bother me the worst aren't the obvious typos. The errors that get to me are the ones a spellchecker won't catch; the word is spelled correctly. It's just the wrong word. Not knowing how to use to, too and two, for example. Or using looser for loser.
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          My wife reads my books and then points out the errors I missed. It's almost impossible to catch your own errors.

          You could put something at the beginning of the book like "A few people just love to read books with the sole purpose of catching errors in grammar. I write like I talk. To make these people feel like they haven't wasted their time, I have inserted 8 errors in the text. Enjoy"

          Of course, you don't want the book to look like a child wrote it either. But a read through by someone who has a command of the language should be enough.
          Just not yourself.

          Just my 2 cents.
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          Terence Fletcher: "There are no two words in the English language more harmful than Good Job." Whiplash.
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  • Profile picture of the author MovingAround
    Great input guys.

    Another question which I am sure others considering a professional proofreader have, how do you go about securing your work so that said proofreader doesn't steal it? In fact, this fear is what's putting me off Fiver as Fiver seems to be good for blackhat stuff and asking beautiful women to dedicate you a video.

    You are literally giving the proofreader your whole work and if he/she decided to publish it, you could not claim it was initially yours. Do professional proofreading services offer some form of peace of mind? How can you make sure that your work is only read by the proofreader for what it is intended to and he does't copy/talk about your work?
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by MovingAround View Post

      Great input guys.

      Another question which I am sure others considering a professional proofreader have, how do you go about securing your work so that said proofreader doesn't steal it? In fact, this fear is what's putting me off Fiver as Fiver seems to be good for blackhat stuff and asking beautiful women to dedicate you a video.
      I understand your concern. Here is a reality. Nobody cares about your content. Nobody is going to steal it. What you see as a beautiful jewel that must be cherished...to a proofreader is the exact same thing they have been reading for 30 years. Believe me, it came as a shock to me too.

      People on Fiverr are interested in two things. Your first 5 bucks and you buying their upsell. Stealing your content just isn't in the cards.

      I've written books, made dozens of DVDs, created several courses. Nobody is going to steal my content until they see my sales letter...and they then may buy my course, copy it, and send it back. And even that has never happened.

      There are courses on how to give away your content for free....and still people won't bite. In another person's eyes...our content is just another page to look at. Seriously.
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  • Profile picture of the author Amy Harrop
    I think proofreading and having a second pair of eyes is very important. I have a lot of proofreading experience and will often proofread my own work if it's on the short side, but for books I prefer to use a proofreader. Many of the books that are currently self-published would benefit from additional proofreading and editing. I don't worry too much about proofreaders 'stealing' work. I haven't found that to be much of an issue.
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  • Profile picture of the author barry500
    Just finished first tome and used proofreader/copyeditor.
    Book is for mainstream publication, paperback and e-formats
    and had to be right. I guess if you are selling smaller how to guides
    you might be forgiven minor errors, but if book has a hope of finding proper publisher
    I think you need that second pair of eyes to double check and sanity check everything.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    Just started hiring someone for this recently after a trickle of complaints from past products - just seems like something we should be doing today as competition increases and you want to improve your level of professionalism.
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  • Profile picture of the author Henry White
    If you're not under a pressing deadline, there are a few tips that can help enormously.

    Don't confuse writing with editing - meaning don't try to do them both at the same time.
    In both instances the built-in spell check is no defense against homonyms.

    It's best if you can set the finished draft aside for a couple of days. This way what you meant to say won't be foremost in your mind, and you can focus on what you actually wrote instead of what you intended to write.

    Write more than you need - it's a thousand times easier to cut than it is to pad.

    If you're going to outsource, find a good, reliable source - the best, not the cheapest. For example, most retired newspapermen and teachers are very good at this. Upperclassmen and graduate students are particularly good at this, too; and usually outstanding for research.

    Another way, a modest investment in your future, is Dragon Naturally Speaking - eliminating the mechanical slow down where most of these errors originate, and usually prevents the stilted results of trying to write differently from the way you normally speak.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
    I lean towards the "pay a proofreader to edit your work" camp. I know funds can be tight, BUT whether your book is a print book or an e-book, it reflects both your professionalism and YOU. Do NOT skimp on this. A low sale price for the book (in the case of a $.99 e-book) does NOT mean you shouldn't treat it with the same importance and dignity of a "real" printed book.

    I'm extremely fortunate to have had Sheri McConnell, founder and CEO of the National Association of Women Writers (now the Smart Women's Institute) as my mentor. She stresses treating your business like a business. Be a professional and make sure your work is the very best it can be. Self-editing a book isn't a good idea. We don't see our own mistakes.

    My first book (it's a print book, not an e-book) was published in 2010 and yes, I paid a professional editor. It was $1500, but it was a big deal to me and I didn't want to be embarrassed by bad grammar and other editing mistakes later.

    You can make money with a book, but books are mostly used to promote your business (other products and services). So it reflects on your other work. Also, you never know who is reading your book and what might come of it.

    You don't want to be embarrassed later.

    Be a professional. Treat your business like a business. Get an editor. You don't have to spend as much as I did, but don't avoid it.

    At the very least, get someone else to look over your copy.

    Hope that helps!

    Michelle
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  • Profile picture of the author FIERCE IM
    It looks like you are in a very short budget. may just use the spelling grammar on word and ask to 2 or 3 familly members to help. It may sound like nothing, but I am sure they will be good helper and you will save some money. and next when your business will expand you will be able to afford a PPS.

    Hoppe that helps
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      In terms of having grammar mistakes in one's book, what is acceptable from the reader's point of view (say incorrect use of a comma in place of a semi-colon)?
      Let me answer this by citing a mistake in your original post:

      half of them had many petty errors (bad use of comas, semi colons etc)
      The one in bold is the kind of error that, if I saw it in the book description or in the sample you can download before buying, would stop me from buying or reading further. It is also the kind of mistake that cannot be caught by automatic means and can also lead to people leaving disparaging comments in the reader reviews.

      If you are hoping to become a serious author, you must either learn to proofread yourself (there are courses that can help) or hire a good proofreader.

      One of my clients is very smart and has a ton of writing ability and experience, but he is a sloppy speller. He is now suffering bad comments going around the web about his blog because of his failure to hire a proofreader. He is going to do so now, but it's too late, really, because the bad comments cannot be undone.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      • Profile picture of the author Liesel
        I proofread my own books. I write them and then proofread them once and step away. I come back later to proofread them again and step away. And then I come back later again and proofread them a third time. It is time consuming but I'd rather spend the time to do it myself than pay someone else to do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author topgold
    Avid readers always complain about the "small" grammatical and spelling errors.

    Spelling errors are easy to fix, just run your Word Processor's spellcheck program to fix 99% of the issues.

    Grammar errors... that's where the proofreader comes in handy.

    I have one proofreader whom I hand over my work to before publishing. In return, I proofread their books as well. It's a win-win situation for the both of us.

    Consider finding a writer in the same situation and offer to proofread their books for free in return for their reciprocation. Get quality proofreading from a trusted source, read their book for free, AND save money on proofreading services? Sounds good to me!
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