Monday, June 24, 2013

Editing vs Proofreading - What's the Difference?

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'd like to go over the difference between an edit and a proofread; including what you should expect from each. These are just a couple of the services we provide over on INDIE Books Gone Wild. If you aren't sure what services you need, this post will help you decide and tell you how to prepare for each one. So grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!


This is a service where you send your book to someone and they fix basic grammar and construction issues, punctuation, transitions, spelling, inconsistencies, and look to cut your word count. A good editor won't change your voice, they'll make it more legible.

Any editor you choose should give you a sample edit of your first chapter to see if you're a good fit. At IBGW, we use that first chapter to rate the quality of your writing and base our price from there. Why? Because if it doesn't take us as long to edit your book, you won't pay as much. You're paying your editor for their time and knowledge of the English language.

Be sure your editor uses a style guide so you'll know what changes to expect and have a reference.

An inline edit looks something like this:
Inline changes and notes in the sidebar are things you should expect. At IBGW, we strive to make you a better writer during our edits by providing education and noting things you should be watching out for. Every writer makes common errors; but if you know what they are, you're less likely to repeat them if you learn from your mistakes. This, I believe, is something every editor should do.


Different from editing, proofreading is all about looking for good transitions, proper use of punctuation, spelling issues, and redundancy. A proofreader should be able to speed-read your work and highlight issues without going into great detail. Your editor should be catching everything else. Many proofreaders will highlight things your editor may have missed and sling out a comment; but you shouldn't expect that. They're looking to give your manuscript a final once-over before it goes to print. All your T's should be crossed and your I's dotted after your manuscript is returned by a proofreader.

Your editor should never be your proofreader. They're too close to the work by the time the edit is done, and they'll miss things, just like you.

At INDIE Books Gone Wild, we use one person on our team to edit and another to proofread. Proofreading is included in the price of your edit. There's no need to shell out more money for someone else to do it. We even write it up in your contract and book your proofreading for you. That's part of the benefit of working with a team rather than a single person who tries to do it all.

No matter who you choose to work with, make sure you've read something they've written or edited and are comfortable with them as a person. Be sure you can respect their comments when your manuscript is returned. There's nothing worse than questioning every change someone makes. Trust is a huge part of the writer/editor relationship.

As a final note: Regardless of who you work with, be sure to have a contract. If your editor or proofreader balks at the idea of a contract, or won't let you read/look it over before you're expected to sign, run away. A contract is there to protect you both and shouldn't sway power one way or the other. Also, make sure it has an out clause.

I hope this helps you all in some small way.

That's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. That was a great sample to provide to see exactly what to expect when hiring an editor vs proofreader.

    1. Thanks. I think a lot of people just don't know what it is they need. I hope this helps someone. :)

  2. Solid information about the differences between the two. I especially like how you warned against your editor, being your proofreader ...excellent

    1. I think an editor misses a lot, too, once they become as close to the story as the author is. Thanks for the comment, Mangus!


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