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.

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

  • "Thank you so much Sarah! What a fantastic set of illustrations for the first in our series of children’s books. We can’t wait to work with you on the second book!" Jane Archer-Wilms & Marlies Veenhof

  • "Sarah is quality.  Not just her design but she is a pleasure to work with."
    - Bob Harper, Portfolio Marketing

  • "It won’t be a struggle working with Sarah, it’ll be a pleasure. Can’t recommend enough”
    - Richard Quick

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • "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

  • "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'

  • “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

  • "i really like ur books my mommy reads them 2 me all the time ur really good at drawling and i want 2 be like u when i grow up :-)"  Natassia Flegal (hd fan)

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

  • "Our brand wouldn't be the same without her on-going input. Just fab xx”
    - Justine Rogers, Dainty Dizzy

  • 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

  • Got home tonight and the books had arrived. Absolutely love them. My girlfriend loves your illustrations.” - Andrew Jeffery: 'Wolfboy Book'

  • 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

  • "Sarah provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could" Discovery Leisure

  • “Logos received with a BIG thanks, Basically I love them all” 
    Helen Chuah, Giggling Baby Products

  • "Yes!!!! Wow…Love it!!! ..thanks so much, I absolutely the character design you have done for us!!! xx” Lisa Dell, Cornish Firewood

  • "You do have a very positive feel about everything you do. I do wish you continued success in all your work. All the best, SimonSimon James, Famous Children’s Book Illustrator

  • "I am absolutely THRILLED TO BITS with your illustrations! THEY ARE MAGNIFICENT!”
    - Susanna Jennicrai, Book Author

  • "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

  • "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