The forgotten joys of proofreading

I’ve started my first proofreading job in months. You might think proofreading is just making sure you use the right its or just in general not fucking up something and looking bad. In the editing world, proofreading is done on “proofs” or the laid-out book.

I have a thick bundle of 11 x 17 paper (I believe this is known in the rest of the world as A3), which is called a spread, which means that there are two book pages per page. I scrawl all over the proofs looking for egregious errors, bad line breaks, and the overuse of the word “unique.”

Proofreading doesn’t make you the big bucks, editorially speaking (big bucks in the editing world means that you can count out enough change for a latte, not just a cup of coffee when you go out; maybe you can order a beer that tastes better than $2 PBR). But it’s easy on the ADD brain. You don’t make any major editorial decisions. You just check for errors and inconsistencies.

Thirty people have read this manuscript before you. You just make marks on paper, listen to some good music (thanks, L!), sometimes you crack jokes to the editor in the margins if you know her; you remember the tiny spark of attention that got you into this trade to begin with.

What got you started on the road you’re on?


3 responses to “The forgotten joys of proofreading

  1. You listen to music as you proofread? When I did that, our tiny office of proofreaders were split down the middle about listening to music while we worked. Another woman and I would’ve had trouble doing it without our music. The other two said they couldn’t do the job while listening to anything. It’s interesting how different people are, isn’t it?

    I tell how I first understood that I was supposed to be a writer on the “My Very First Time” page of SIS. I was a very young child listening to my mother begin to read me a story.

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