Should I have my story Proof Read?... the answer is YES, for sure!

childrens book illustrator

Several questions may spring to mind when you think of a proofreader, and it may be that you envisage your story being pulled apart by an old-fashioned stern school teacher type person, who will tell you where you’re going wrong with a clap of blackboard dusters and a snap of a cane! Or perhaps you imagine a more scholarly type, hunched over an old fashioned typewriter and battling against a constant sniffly nose! The truth is, a professional proofreader is very much like you and me in that they want your work to be the very best it can be. Below we detail some information about proofreading, and why it’s so important, and also how you can now access a skilled proofreader as part of your Happydesigner experience.

Do I Need a Proofreader?

childrens book illustratorThe simple answer here will always be “YES”! It is so hard to be objective about your own writing, and asking a friend or relative, or even partner, to check it over won’t provide you with the same honesty, expertise and advice that a proofreader will give you. Some people may think that having their story read by someone who will be sympathetic to their writing is a good thing; after all, who wants a complete stranger reading your work and trashing it? But don’t worry! A proofreader isn’t there to ‘like’ your story, and they aren’t looking to see whether it’s something they’ll enjoy reading themselves. But they do know that a good story, correctly edited and formatted will always be well received and have great potential to become successful.

If you have written a story, a poem, or even a short tale, you can be reasonably certain that there are elements of it that could be improved upon. Whether it’s by adding a few commas or changing the odd word, there’s always something that can be added (or taken away) to make your story flow that little bit better. A proofreader knows your work is precious to you and will understand that you want your story to be the best it can, which is something that we also want, and strive to achieve!

What Does a Proofreader Do?

Essentially, a proofreader will carefully go over your story and advise you of what they believe could be changed to help it to read in the best possible way. Whilst doing this, they will be also be checking for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. The crux of your story is paramount, and getting it to flow and be as entertaining and engaging as possible is key. To ask another person to read your work and critique it is rather daunting, and it’s scary thinking that you may be told it’s all wrong and needs to change, but don’t worry, this won’t happen. Elements of your story may need changing to help it flow a little better, or there may be parts of it that don’t make sense in their current form, but a good proofreader will be expert at teasing out the very best in your story for you. You’ll find that most proofreaders are also authors and writers. They will understand just how exposing it can be to reveal your story to a stranger, and how vulnerable it can make you feel.

The proofreader will work in the best possible way to help make the changes required whilst ensuring you remain comfortable and happy with any amendments to your story. However, always remember that, at the end of the day, it’s your story, and as much as the proofreader will inform you of any areas that may need working on, the final decision to make any changes is ultimately yours. In reality, most stories don’t require as many changes as the writer may think. Writers are generally overly-critical of their work, as we all tend to be when it comes to something we have created ourselves. One of the most important things you need to remember during the proofreading process is to keep an open mind. If feedback is given, and you don’t agree with it, question why you don’t agree.

Ask yourself; how will these changes affect my work, and perhaps even try it out. And, after all of this, if you still don’t agree with the suggestions made, then simply don’t change the story! We want your story to achieve its maximum potential, but it’s also extremely important for you to be 100% happy with the final result too.

Will A Proofreader Alter My Story Too Much?

Very importantly, a proofreaders job isn’t to change your story. They are very keen on making sure that the author’s ‘voice’ is heard throughout their own story, and that they are ultimately completely happy with the final version. They will make comments and suggestions when elements of the story don’t look right or aren’t working, and the term for this is called “scanning”. You may find that your proofreader tells you the story isn’t “scanning” well, and it usually means that the words aren’t working in their current order. This typically happens with rhyming stories; for example:

Tom and Jill found a cat, It wasn’t very happy as it was sat on a pretty big and hairy mat. The cat wanted to be cuddled and given lots of hugs, But it also liked scratching and playing with its own paws.

This is quite clunky and long-winded, and not all of it rhymes or seems to fit well. You may be told that this paragraph isn’t scanning well and the following suggestion may be made as to how you can help it to scan better:

Tom and Jill found a large cat, Stretched out on a big and hairy mat. The cat liked to be cuddled and given lots of hugs, But it often scratched their hands and broke all their mugs!

This change would only be advised, and not automatically carried out, as there has been a change to the content of the story. It would be your decision as to whether or not to accept the advice and make the changes, or similar changes along the same lines yourself. We will be very happy to help you in whatever way we can if you need more support.

How Can I Find a Proofreader?

You are already in the right place. We can recommend the services of an industry professional proofreader should you wish. Proofreading is a vital component in the whole book creation process. Finding a spelling mistake or punctuation error after the book has been printed, is devastating and can ultimately be very costly. On a professional level, everyone at Happydesigner wants to make sure all books leaving here, and proudly bearing our name, are produced to the highest possible standard achievable, and our primary aim is for you to feel exceptionally proud of your completed book.

Someone that can help…

FULL PROOF

Established in 2004, Full Proof is a professional proofreading and editing agency based in Cheshire but with clients across the UK and beyond. One of our specialities is proofreading and editing for authors, as a number of our team are authors in our own right. Between us we have published children’s books, poems, short stories and novellas. We are also CIEP-qualified to Professional or Advanced level, so your words really are safe with us! With hundreds of positive reviews online, Full Proof is the proofreading company you can trust. Get in touch today – we’d love to talk to you and find out how we can help you with your writing!

childrens book illustrator

How Does it Work?

So, once we have chatted through the book creation processes and discussed the details of your project, we will quote you a price for creating your book. Also, at this point, should you wish, we can recommend a dedicated and professional proofreader who will be able to put the finishing touches to your story as detailed above. To ensure that your project progresses smoothly, it is very important to provide us with the final version of your story that has been fully proofread and edited, before the book creation process begins. The reason for this is because if the proofreading is carried out and finalised at a point during this process and it has been decided to alter the story in any way, this could mean that the layout and illustrations may need to be changed to account for the edited story, resulting in delays to its completion and substantial additional charges. Once your story has been checked and edited and you are happy with it (which may take a few proofreading sessions), it progresses to the final check stage, where the proofreader will make sure it’s absolutely top-notch and ready to go. Please be aware that once the illustrations have been completed, changes to either the story or the illustrations cannot be made, but any minor errors such as missing full-stops, spelling issues, missing text etc, can be edited, prior to the completed book being sent off to print!

And that’s all there is to it! We will have done our very best to keep you informed and comfortable with every step taken and during each stage of the process, and we will ensure that you have every opportunity to raise any queries or concerns at any point so that you are completely happy with the whole experience.

illustrator of books

We have recently made some changes here at Happydesigner, and we are pleased to advise that we now offer a complimentary basic spelling and grammar checking service, should you require it. This is not intended to replace the need to have your story professionally proofread, but should be used as a final check at the end of the book creation process to eliminate any bugs or gremlins that may have crept in! We wholeheartedly and strongly advise you to have your story fully proofread by an industry professional before submitting it to us.

As always, if you have any questions right now, please do drop us an email or contact us here!

A few of my previous clients

Design against furSt Ives Memory BayEden ProjectSkyRespect for animalsPets at HomeSt Moritz Hotel

  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love
  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis