I’ve been proofreading and copy-editing professionally since 2009 and almost all of my work has been for non-publishers such as academics, researchers, postgraduates and businesses or other organisations. Although I send details to clients of what they can expect from my proofreading and copy-editing services, most of my clients have been happy for me to do whatever work I think is needed, and I’ve enjoyed improving the clarity, fluency and consistency of a text where that’s what’s required. So far, so good.
In 2012 I attended the classroom-based ‘Introduction to copy-editing’ course run by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. I realised that the only things my clients hadn’t wanted me to do when I was copy-editing for them were formatting, fact-checking (apart from pointing out incorrect facts that a lay reader would spot) and tagging.
Nothing to lose
I enjoy the type of work I do and wasn’t particularly looking to move in even a slightly new direction when I was contacted by my friend and colleague Kate Haigh (www.kateproof.co.uk). She asked if I would be interested in copy-editing for a publisher, as she hadn’t the time for this specific project. My first thought was, ‘Nope. I don’t feel completely comfortable with that.’ I then told myself not to be so ridiculous. I have a lot of happy clients and the core elements of this potential job would be doing things that I routinely do. There was no valid reason to think this job was beyond me. At worst it would challenge me a bit. So I found myself saying, ‘Oh, go on, then!’ and immediately feeling a positive sense of anticipation alongside a little apprehension.
A happy ending
The client sent the text and I completed the work. The only thing that was new to me was the formatting work that needed doing. This involved using a Word template and applying styles. Kate had described the two-step process and it proved to be very straightforward. Making sure I did this task properly took a little longer than I’d anticipated, and I also spent time making sure I understood the style guide, which involved raising some queries to clarify some of the instructions. I tried to see this as a positive learning opportunity, and I was happy to spend the extra time needed to make sure the job was done properly.
The lovely project manager made the job so much easier than it could have been. I did have some questions while working on the text, and she answered them promptly and fully and made it plain that she was around to answer more if necessary.
The publisher was happy with my work, I’ve already done another report for them and have another booked in and am now one of their registered suppliers. What’s not to like?