SimpleMarkup #88 – Proofreading Chocolate

So I’ve got something awkward to talk about, and that’s about the perception I used to hold that if I found a typo or two in a book, that book’s editor had to be terrible. This was the way I thought growing up and through college, anyway.

It wasn’t until I started my career in the self-publishing industry that I began to grasp just how many roadblocks there are to achieving a “perfect manuscript.” Software, last-minute tweaking, author uncertainty, style confusion, armchair grammar experts, dictionary versions, distractions, the slip of a finger, version confusion. There are a hundred different things that can happen to cause a typo or two.

Above all: the imperfect human brain.

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to focus on editing instead of both editing and proofreading, but since many of my clients only have a single round of editing in their budgets (which I totally understand!), I still wanted to offer the service while also being able to retain some of my editor choices after proofreading. By subcontracting, I could achieve this, because I could go through the manuscript after the proofreading and reject anything marked that the author and I had consciously chosen to do during editing but couldn’t really convey to a proofreader without sucking up a ton of time. This has worked out very well over the years, and I’m happy to still be doing it.

However, the initial sting of how many errors are found can be quite a shock. It’s inevitable that editors have some form of an ego, given that our job is to improve things, but even a small ego will still whisper in your ear, “You should have caught that one.” Never mind the 7,000 revisions (sometimes more than 10,000 or over 20,000) made during editing. Each little one can cause a brief stab of misery.

That said, I’ve come to believe that the humbling experience of going through the proofreading markup of something you’ve edited is a very productive and motivating experience for an editor. It helps you to realize your own imperfections and let go of imposter syndrome while also motivating you to improve. Or, at least, this is how it is for me.

All that hunky-dory stuff aside, I do still support the chocolate industry on a regular basis. 🙂

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