editing series 1

“Oops! Missed That!”: Proofreads

Proofreads are fun. Which sounds strange, but the proofreading stage happens on the designed pages. So, this is the first time I get to really go through and see the way the book is going to look when it’s finished.

Basically, we take the inside of the ARE (the advance reader edition) and give it to someone else who’s never looked at the book – not the editor or the copyeditor but a set of fresh eyes – to go through and really hunt for tiny, small mistakes. (Or big ones. You know, if a big one has crept through, now would be the time to catch it!) Missing punctuation, places where words break oddly and look weird on the page, typos, and any small copyediting-level questions that haven’t yet been addressed (i.e. that none of the 10 other people who have looked at it have managed to catch). There’s ALWAYS something.

I think the easiest way to explain it is to just show you a couple of pages from the proofread of Kate Evangelista’s No Love Allowed.


The first note is for design. The line is hard to read because it’s set a little too close together. The second note is a copyediting thing that we missed (this is why I love proofreaders!). And the third one is one of those weird, esoteric things that only pop up during proofreading. Did you know that “baggie” is trademarked? I didn’t know that “baggie” was trademarked.


A typo, a dangling participle (bet you never thought you’d see that again outside of English class!), another typo… little things that we don’t want to see in the finished book. Have I mentioned how much I love proofreaders? I really, really like proofreaders, because I can’t see these things anymore. I’m too close to the book.

The proofreading stage is also when I add in any last changes from the author. I will send them a set of designed pages and an ARE for them to go through on their own. Then, they email me a list of any mistakes or comments that they have. As I go through the proofread, looking at EVERY page, I fold in the author’s comments as well. If the proofreader has any queries that are big changes – versus just grammar or something like that – then I will send an email to the author and ask how they want to fix the issue. There’s a lot of attention to detail here, and it can take a while…

But in the end, everything is awesome.

Well, sort of. Let’s say everything is much, much closer to finished. We will definitely be looking at the book at least once more, probably twice.

And in case you missed the previous entries for this editorial series:
“Don’t Panic!”: First Draft Revisions
“Great Job, Let’s Do It Again!”: Second (and Sometimes Third) Draft Revisions
“Little Changes Have BIG Effects”: Line Edits
“Someone Else Needs to Look at This”: Copyedits
• “Across the Pond”: The Swoon Editorial Process in the U.K.

Author spotlight

Holly West

Senior Editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends. Giant geek. Dedicated fangirl. Half-Elven Rogue Cleric. Also answers to That-Girl-Who-Reads-A-Lot.

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