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Friday Revisions: Sweating the Details/ Or Why We Need a Proofreader

Over the last week, I needed to polish two short stories.

One of those I thought was as ready as it could get, and the other had undergone umpteen eyes.

But the minute I started the read-aloud session I put my work through before submission, I found not a few mistakes in punctuation, a spell-error, extra spaces.

That reminded me of my proofreading days. I used to work for an educational publication as the person who would okay the book before it went to print. I read it at a go, identified inconsistencies and the sort of errors I mentioned above. I used to decide if the book was go or stop—-I had stopped quite a few errors in my time from leaking into print.

I still do proofreading for friends.

How did I miss those glaring proofread errors in my own work?

A few things come to mind:

-I was too involved in the bigger picture to sweat the details
-My brain self edited the work as it was read…I had read it a dozen times already
-I was too subjective, we writers can never be totally objective about our own babies
-I had simply become lax, it happens if you’re out of professional practice

As I see publishing budgets slashed all over the place, I wonder if there would still be a place left for proofreaders…and it scares me.

If you’re a writer, do you get someone (professional or qualified) to proofread your work before you begin the subbing process?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Damyanti says:

    Anne, reading on paper helps me see more mistakes…
    thanks for your comment 🙂

    Madeline, yes, I find proofreading my own work hard too.

  • I don't proofread anything well at all. I have to get someone else to do it for me. Proofreading your own work is especially hard.

  • I have my crit partners for the usual punctuation and spelling errors, but when it's a short story or something small, I change the font and make the print bigger so I can see it in a different way. Usually the mistakes jump out at me.

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