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Any copy-editors or proofreaders out there?

(44 Posts)
PlanetEarthIsBlue Sun 02-Feb-14 16:41:09

Not sure if this is the right place to post, but here goes. I'm looking for a change of direction job-wise, and am considering whether to try copy-editing/proofreading. I understand that there are correspondence courses out there for training, but don't know if these would be useful. I could also do with knowing whether this is really a job-field worth exploring? Any observations/advice would be appreciated.

tuitiondevon Thu 20-Mar-14 07:57:40

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

CocktailQueen Tue 11-Feb-14 16:26:45

lol at poofreader!!! grin You might not get quite the right kind of clients ;-)

But I quite like a nice pile of references to sort through and check - nice mindless stuff.

Punkatheart Tue 11-Feb-14 16:21:08

I hate those words 'poor payers'! Oh those references too...I shudder at the thought of them. It's like picking daisies with a certain amount of petals out of a lawn.

But be careful. I have a friend who referred to herself on Twitter as a 'poofreader'. Cue a lot of jokes in her direction.

CocktailQueen Tue 11-Feb-14 12:50:44

Punk - you have, you're quite right. Sorry. Perma started it!

And I agree - google some linguistics books and see who publishes them! Then contact those publishers smile (but also be warned that academic presses can be poor payers...)

BirdintheWings Tue 11-Feb-14 12:27:55

Academic presses, Rally! (But possibly I'm extrapolating wildly from the one book they despairingly offered me because 'nobody else would agree to do it'. There may not be that many being written each year!)

rallytog1 Tue 11-Feb-14 11:43:46

That's interesting Bird - I have a Masters in linguistics and have never been able to find any proofreading or editing work related to it! Where would I find this gold dust?!

BirdintheWings Tue 11-Feb-14 11:36:41

Do you know anything about geophysics, sampling theory or linguistics? All fields where it's hard to find a copyeditor.

One thing I'd say is that you sometimes have to swallow your instinctive, outraged feeling that something is 'right' or 'wrong'. If the in-house style manual says you hyphenate 'under-way', treat 'prior' as a verb, use Oxford commas, or bung in very, very long dashes, then you do it.

If you work in an academic field, be prepared to check an awful lot of references and lose the will to live.

WaitingForMe Tue 11-Feb-14 11:25:27

I'm a copywriter (run my own agency) that also proofreads and for me, being successful in this industry is about bringing extra skills to the table. The proofreader I outsource to is also a translator, I am great at the creative consultancy which leads to interesting briefs, a writer I outsource to is also a journalist and so on.

I don't know anybody making a living from just one thing. I'm sure it is possible but for me, a portfolio career is the way to go.

Oh and my posts on Mumsnet are shit but my client work is shit hot wink

StUmbrageinSkelt Tue 11-Feb-14 11:09:27

Perma's got more errors than Punk for anyone else playing along. Em/en dashes and ellipses for a beginning.

OP good luck. I basically gave up on it.

Punkatheart Tue 11-Feb-14 10:53:51

I think I have been helpful as well, Cocktail. I have, for example, given the OP the details for the SfEP. I rate them quite highly. Perma simply truly got my back up on a day when I was foggy from chemo, rather ill and not in the mood. My bad, as they (apparently) say.

I agree in part about the ridiculous pedantic nature of commas for some people and yes, some proofreading can be relatively simple. But I edit a magazine and it has to be perfect. However, I have also enjoyed helping foreign students with their dissertations - it feels rewarding to help them and just adjust some of the language to make it more readable. As a proofreader, you will also learn a great deal about subjects you never knew and meet some interesting people.

I think proofreading, particularly combined with creative writing, journalism and maybe even copywriting, can be a rewarding and profitable profession.

I recommend too that you have a look on Elance, Planet - to get an idea what people are looking for, but also how much each job should be costed. There is also business networking, if you get yourself established. Lovely way to meet people but also to find work.

CocktailQueen Tue 11-Feb-14 09:25:45

Actually, the only people being pedantic and arguing about grammar have been Perma and Punk - everyone else has been helpful.

And, OP, in case you've been put off, I never waste time worrying about the placement of a comma - I don't get paid enough per job to worry about things like that. There is more to proofreading!

Punkatheart Mon 10-Feb-14 18:42:48

So OP - unless you have been completely put off by our pedantic scrapping (all friendly, honest!) - this is the world of nitpickery. I once spent time that I will never get back, discussing one comma in a sentence with my page designer. Oh yeah, it's so rock 'n roll!

PermaShattered Mon 10-Feb-14 12:17:32

Punk, you're right (and thanks for pointing out my own typo!) it was not, with hindsight, the most pleasant thing to do so my apologies. It wasn't patronising though.

I would point out, then, that as the SfEP is singular it should be "its courses" not "their courses".

Good luck OP - I'm leaving the thread now, rarely come on MN smile

Punkatheart Fri 07-Feb-14 21:31:59

But you didn't point out my mistakes, Perma - you invited someone else to do so, which was not a particularly pleasant thing to do and rather patronising. The only error in my previous post was that I should only have bracketed 'but thorough' and not 'proofread'.

However, I can spell 'weren't'.

Mother, you are so right. I am glad I don't do it all the time! It can make your head explode!

PlanetEarthIsBlue Fri 07-Feb-14 21:30:16

Thank you all for your observations and very honest advice. I was never under the illusion that this would be an easy option! I'm now clearer on what to do in terms of further research. Believe me, if I do decide to take the plunge it won't be a hasty decision.

motherinferior Fri 07-Feb-14 14:47:47

I am a journalist who does some paid by the day editing. I charge a reasonable day rate, but it is gruelling and maddeningly nit-picky.

PermaShattered Fri 07-Feb-14 14:47:26

Planet - just had a really quick scan through the other replies and I'd reinforce the following:

1. Do you potentially have the skills to extend beyond proofreading to writing (or similar)?
2. A USP eg within a particular sector? It can make all the difference.

Good luck.

PermaShattered Fri 07-Feb-14 14:44:12

Punk - sorry you were't the OP. I think you don't like your mistakes being pointed out!

PermaShattered Fri 07-Feb-14 14:42:12

Punk - I won't bother pointing them out. I did say I was being pedantic. I do try to make sure I write correctly whether or not it's in a professional capacity! I'd expect people (as they do) to pick me up on my writing if it's grammatically wrong.... anyway, best of luck - it's a tough world out there if you're trying to break into it.

dogrilla Fri 07-Feb-14 13:04:07

Thanks loveisagirlnameddaisy. Decoded website looks great and I'm sure they are brilliant, but you're right - courses aren't cheap. Maybe a freebie MOOC first to test the waters...

loveisagirlnameddaisy Fri 07-Feb-14 12:14:25

On the digital side, an ex-colleagues husband has set up an agency called Decoded which teaches you how to code in a day. The courses aren't cheap but may be of interest. I've never been on one so can't recommend personally. smile

dogrilla Fri 07-Feb-14 11:46:28

CocktailQueen Yes, have always used InDesign for work as a magazine sub, so now have it at home to do remote editing and laying out templated pages (rather then designing from scratch). Have a website, but the only clients it has attracted so far have been pretty dodgy!

Thanks for the SfEP advice. Have been mulling over joining for a while, but if the courses are good it's probably worth it. Notice there's also a Web Editorial Skills course that might be useful.

Nice to know that there are others like me out there. Can be a lonely line of work, made more so by the fact that, unlike a copywriter or designer, you are not actually producing anything, so what you do is not easily quantifiable (to the untrained eye, at least).

Good luck, PlanetEarthIsBlue, if you decide to make a go of it!

CocktailQueen Fri 07-Feb-14 11:03:48

hi Dogrilla, I agree with this: No one will ever pat you on the back for ironing out a muddled paragraph but there's hell to pay if even the smallest mistake slips through the net. And the fact that publishing rates haven't increased over the past years but have in some cases gone down!

To answer your question, they find me. Either though my website or through my SfEP Directory entry. On occasion when I have really wanted to work for a company, I have contacted them, but have had mixed results.

SfEP runs a course called Working for non-publishers which I took a couple of years ago, which was helpful.

On my list of things to do this year is to become more au fait with digital publishing. SO you work in InDesign? I'm impressed!

dogrilla Fri 07-Feb-14 10:47:04

p.s. CocktailQueen, how do you find businesses to work for? Have been fantasising about branching out into editing/proofing for corporate comms/marketing material, but really don't know where to start. Also probably about time I took the leap to digital. Has anyone tried to teach themselves coding/web stuff though Codeacademy or Team Treehouse?

dogrilla Fri 07-Feb-14 10:32:40

I'm a magazine sub-editor/proofreader - half in-house, half freelance – and agree with the above. It's the kind of job everyone thinks is a piece of piss, but there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. Can you use InDesign, know how to remedy a hanging participle, steer clear of potential legal problems and think of a clever headline that hasn't been used 1,000 times already? And, most importantly, can you deal with a client who quibbles your invoice because what you do is basically invisible?

No one will ever pat you on the back for ironing out a muddled paragraph but there's hell to pay if even the smallest mistake slips through the net. Also, the freelance day rate hasn't gone up since I started doing this 15 years ago. Most places won't pay more than £120 a day and if you work remotely you're only as good as the last edit. Sorry for the gloomy outlook – bit disillusioned with it all at the mo (can you tell?).

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