Local CIEP meetings for editors and proofreaders – the benefits

Image by Gerd Altmann at Pixabay

We had our final CIEP local group (South Warwickshire and Coventry) meeting of the year in December 2020. As usual, it was great to see lots of familiar faces and to have a good chat and a laugh about all sorts of things, some work-related and some not.

Learning in a supportive environment

Our group is invaluable, I think, in terms of providing support for local members, providing a space for us to bounce ideas and questions off each other, and for reassurance that we’re not the only person who has a particular concern or blind spot, for example.

Before I wrote this post, I had a chat with a friend I made a couple of years ago via this group about why we think it’s successful, and we came up with various things. We both like the fact that the meetings are unstructured and informal, though it’s always useful to have a couple of things on a loose agenda to talk about to kick off our Zoom meetings. I think our meetings would be very different – not necessarily worse – if they involved an invited speaker or a more detailed and formal agenda.

Sharing ideas, information and advice

We’re very lucky because all of our members are generous in terms of sharing ideas and experiences. And no one is judgemental when someone confesses that they need advice or that they have found themselves in a tricky situation that they felt out of their depth with for a while. Or when someone admits that they have had no experience of a particular work-related topic we’re discussing. And that’s fine – gaining knowledge and even just little tips in this way is a brilliant way to learn. We all work in different areas and have different specialised areas too, so our knowledge is bound to differ a lot if among our members we have, say, a proofreader who always proofreads fiction, a copywriter with a background in marketing who works mostly on business documents, and a copy-editor and proofreader who specialises in working on academic texts, including for master’s and doctoral students (that’ll be me!). This often means that someone raises a topic and different people then contribute and add a slightly different perspective.

Strength in numbers?

A different type of advantage of our group is that we have about 12 or 13 members who come to most meetings. So even if several people cancel attending a meeting at the last minute, we still usually have at least 5 or 6 people coming along, and that’s fine for an informal dinner and chat at a restaurant or pub (in pre-Covid times) or a Zoom meeting. This smallish number might be a bit embarrassing if we had invited a speaker and hired out a room for 20 somewhere, though! Perhaps another reason to avoid that route.

It’s official – laughing is good for you

We always have a good laugh at our meetings, which I’m sure we’ve all needed more than ever since last March. I think we’re all pretty good at laughing at ourselves too – definitely something that’s needed when you’re self-employed and sometimes have to learn from your own mistakes (hopefully small ones).

So these were our conclusions about why the group seems successful and has had an enthusiastic and active membership for quite a while. Whatever the reasons, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it and being joint coordinator for the last 5 years or so. Long may it last, and let’s hope for a brighter 2021 for all of us.

CIEP membership – what this means

CIEP accredited copy editor proofreader UKI am a Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP). This is a professional UK-based organisation for editors and proofreaders that promotes excellence in English language editing (formerly called the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)). I am proud to be a member of this organisation and abide by its code of practice:

The CIEP’s code of practice (CoP), Ensuring editorial excellence, is a really useful resource for editorial professionals. Its purpose is to ‘establish standards of best practice for CIEP members and help them maintain them and to encourage good professional relationships’.

The CIEP’s website introduces the CoP by saying that ‘Good communication between client/employer and freelance/employee is essential. Clear briefing and the agreement of terms are vital if high standards are to be maintained by both parties, and unsurprisingly they’re emphasised by the CoP.’

In addition, the CoP includes guidance on the professional behaviour of a freelance/employee and a client/employer and standards for proofreading, editing and project management. It also provides information on web editing, electronic file handling, email etiquette, confidentiality and computer security

Since the summer of 2016, I have been co-running the South Warwickshire and Coventry local CIEP group. You can download the code of practice here

Proofreading for self-publishers of fiction


If you are a self-publishing author looking for someone to proofread your novel or short story, you can simply send me your final draft and I’ll let you know whether I can help you. If I can, I’ll give you a quote.

Proofreading fiction is of course a little different to proofreading other sorts of texts. As you probably already know, in the publishing industry proofreading is the last task in a long list of work that is done on a manuscript by editorial professionals. It is the final check on a text that has ideally been edited and then copy-edited.

I’m aware, however, that many self-publishers won’t have the resources to have gone through all the traditional stages. But I would expect that your manuscript has at least been copy-edited. If you are unsure of the differences between copy-editing and proofreading, have a look at the CIEP’s FAQs page, which you’ll find here: https://www.ciep.uk/about/faqs/

Any quote I give you would include doing the following:CIEP accredited editor proofreader membership

  • Checking spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • Checking that the syntax of sentences seems to work and that sentences make sense in context
  • Checking that your writing is clear and reads fluently
  • Checking that the style you have used is consistent, e.g. double or single quotation marks and that things like italics are used consistently
  • Ensuring that any ambiguity or monotonous repetition is highlighted and possible solutions are suggested
  • With regard to all of the above, being sensitive to your style of writing and bearing in mind that with fiction, standard grammar and/or punctuation rules can be broken if it seems to make sense in context to do so (I’d make a note about this to make you aware of your options)
  • Noting formatting issues such as inconsistent paragraph spacing/margins (but not correcting those).

Ideally, as many people as possible should read your manuscript before you finalise it (it’s best to have a number of beta-readers read your work so that you can get useful feedback, but any friends or family who have analytical and crticital skills can provide useful feedback and spot errors too). I suggest you consider this even after my proofread, because you will be doing work on the text after that, and errors can creep in.

You can see testimonials from some of the clients who’ve been happy with my work. I have a love for fiction, a feel for language and an eye for detail, and I would do my best to substantially improve the quality of your text. Please get in touch with me here.