I GOT A PROOFREADING GIG! … Now What?
How to Complete Your First Project
You did it! Every single aspect of your hard work has finally paid off. All of your researching, applying, writing, free proofreading, resume building, and cover letter building have finally gotten you to this point. You’re first paying proofreading gig! So now the real question is: How do I execute my first project?
The first thing you want to do upon receiving your new book to proofread is to carefully read over the author’s note to you and mark down any important notes address. You want to be extra sure to record the due date so that you aren’t late in returning the proofread version. One missed deadline means an entire resulting chain of publication deadlines.
Meaning that the compositor can’t finish if you don’t send the finished proofread version of the work. Which means the publisher can’t move forward and will get angry. This means that the editor will get the consequential blame. Which means you will never receive a project again.
In short, meeting your deadline is crucial. It is important to figure out your work schedule before the deadline that is given to you. If for whatever reason you absolutely can not hand in everything that is asked of you by the deadline, communicate this to your higher up immediately. Do not wait until the deadline has passed to give your editor the news. It’d the equivalent to chasing a plane that has already left the runway.
To get a good understanding as to what the publishing company wants in return, you might want to take a look at the instructions granted by the production editor. Make sure to also go over the house style sheet as well as any other items included with the manuscript. If for whatever reason there aren’t any instructions given, then look over a couple of pages of some books under the publishing company and get a feel as to what writing style they go for.
Always use a red color pencil of some sort. Never use an ink-based nor lead-based writing utensil. This is the number one way of presenting your marks in a professional, straightforward manner that shows eloquence. If you are editing electronically, make sure to mark it with a red color stylus. Write clearly and catch as many errors as you can. Remember to avoid any language and/or comments that can be taken to the offense when writing your queries.
When to Call the Editor
You’ve hit a dead end. No matter how many times you read the sentence, it still doesn’t make sense. You want to change it completely, but you’re not sure if that’s the correct thing to do. If something looks wrong and makes no sense, it is always safe to write it down on a separate sheet of paper and keep moving. Write down all of these obstacles you encounter so that you can bang them out in one (afternoon) phone call with your editor.
Why compile a list instead of just calling him right away? Because you do not want to be calling your editor every hour in case there are more obstacles you run into. Their time, just like yours, is precious time. Most importantly, do not wait until the last minute to call your editor on these matters. Call as soon as you’ve got a handful of questions. If you have phone anxiety, a quick email will suffice.
There ya have it! You’ve completed your very first paid proofreading project.
If you received the manuscript in person, always send it the way it came back. Make sure to include a small and quick cover letter with your manuscript alongside a complete invoice. The project can usually be sent back via FedEx, UPS, Messenger, or U.S. Mail unless indicated otherwise. Many publishing companies will provide a shipping label for you but in case they do not, make sure to keep the receipts so that can be covered.
If you received the project electronically, send back the proofread version that is marked up in a red stylus attached in an email. Make sure to include a short cover letter as the email itself and to attach any other invoices that need to be sent back.
There is no greater cherry on top of a completed proofread manuscript than a cover letter. It is important to enclose a cover letter witch every manuscript you send back. It is also extra important to acknowledge when an editor first hires you with a great thank you and a sentence showing your appreciation.
Try to acknowledge your editor’s efforts in hiring you and showing the ropes of the industry to a new hire. Try to be personable and conscientious when building your relationship with your new employers. But always make sure to avoid sharing personal opinions on the book/manuscript itself. If you think that it’s terrible, do not say it. If you think it’s the best book you have ever read in your life, do not say it. Staying neutral is always professional.
Lastly, you want to add a line or two that gives the editor the idea that you are open to feedback. Asking for feedback shows great initiative. It shows the editor that you are willing to grow with the company.
Once you have followed all of these steps, make sure to seal the manuscript with a personal signature and/or send-off. Once you return the entire project, wait around two weeks for feedback. If you don’t hear anything after these two weeks, feel free to reach out to your editor either on Wednesday or Thursday between 3 P.M. and 4 P.M. Try to be as warm and casual as possible while being agreeable to whatever response you receive. Then get started on the next project they send.
By Karla M. Cortes