Guest Author : Clare Hemsworth from www.comicscout.co.uk
Over the last few years reviewing small press comics for FANdemonium Network I noticed what you might call a gap in the market. Not for any particular genre. No, this was for something more fundamental.
Frequently while reading I would find myself yanked out of an otherwise fantastic book by a spelling or grammatical error. At first I would just point them out to the creative team, especially if I had only seen a digital preview and there was still time to correct mistakes before they went to the public. And almost without exception it was gratefully received. After a time though, I thought that perhaps there was an opening for someone to offer their services as a proofreader. At an affordable rate of course, since I know the small press scene isn’t exactly what you’d call flush with cash.
Now you might think I’m being needlessly picky. That the odd mistake here and there isn’t going to be the end of your book. I’ve put books down (both comics and novels) and never gone back because of typos. And I know I’m not alone in that. I’m halfway through a book right now, and have been since November. It’s the second in a series and I absolutely LOVE the premise, the writing, and the first one was outstanding. But there have been so many errors in this one that it’s driven me to distraction.
It’s not just typos either. I recall reading a book that on the first page mentioned a particular type of whisky, one I’m quite familiar with, and described it as peated. It was a Speyside single malt, a notoriously NOT peated whisky. It took me 5 years to pick that book up again and force myself past that first page. That’s more of an editorial catch than a proofreading one, but I do that too. Perhaps you think that a proofreader is an unnecessary expense. That you’ve gone over your script with a fine tooth comb before it goes off to print. It’s always possible though, especially if the one looking over the script is the one who wrote it, that there may still be errors. Often it takes someone with a degree (or more) of separation from the work to notice what you might otherwise gloss over.
Case in point – I was sent a 15 page preview of a book last year, and it was flipping great… apart from the typos. I got in touch with the person who had sent it and they told me that the writer had gone over it but had obviously missed those. After a chat they said that once the book was finished they would send it over for me to proofread. Fast forward several months and I got a kickstarter email (I backed the project) saying that the book was off to the printers. I raised the issue, and after an apology was told that the writer had checked it over before it went to print. When my copy arrived I flipped it open and noted that some of the points I had originally raised hadn’t been fixed, and there was a glaring error in the first paragraph of the introduction. An otherwise incredibly professionally produced book hamstrung (at least in my eyes) by a neglected step.
I hope that this has convinced you that proofreading is an important part of the process of producing a small press comic. Even if you don’t decide to come to me, or another proofreader, I would definitely recommend having someone else not connected to the book look it over. If you do decide to use my services, you can contact me via twitter (@CiaraCobb) or email on firstname.lastname@example.org . There are also testimonials available on my website from some of my previous proofreading clients – https://www.comicscout.co.uk/testimonials – if you want to check them out beforehand.