Andrew Jones is a freelance proofreader with an eagle eye for punctuation, grammar and typing mistakes. He helps businesses maintain their professional image by keeping their documents error-free.
What sort of work do you do?
I work as a freelance proofreader, which means I am self-employed and work from home. I'm also editorial co-ordinator for a publishing training organisation. I work at the company's office and am responsible for editing the course materials and promotional literature.
How do you get your work?
I try to commission work from publishers and other businesses and, if I am successful, we agree a price and they post the proofs to me. I then correct them and post them back with an invoice.
What is actually involved in your job?
Long periods of intense concentration and constant reference to a dictionary!
I have to be careful only to correct things that are actually wrong, rather than altering the writer's style or interfering in sentence structure. I use proof correction symbols to indicate the necessary changes.
Who do you work with?
As a freelancer, I work on my own and very rarely meet my clients in person. We correspond by telephone, post and e-mail. At the training organisation, I work in an office with colleagues.
What is a typical day?
It involves settling down at my desk with proofs and ignoring any distractions. These days I can usually check through text just once at a fairly good pace, but for complicated jobs, a second check is a good idea. I take breaks when I get tired (staring at a piece of paper for long periods can make your eyes or head hurt!) but I can generally do it for most of the day.
Why did you choose this type of work?
I have always enjoyed reading and writing. My spelling and punctuation have always been very good, and proofreading is a way to put this to good use.
What sort of tools or equipment do you use?
Pens and a dictionary. A computer is handy for invoicing, writing letters and so forth, but not always necessary in terms of the proofreading work itself, which is usually done on printed 'hard' copy.
What hours do you work?
Broadly speaking, whatever hours I choose. I work towards deadlines, which are always agreed with the client beforehand and it's extremely rare for a deadline to be unreasonable or restrictive. Generally, it is normal office hours.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
Working with words. Though English is an illogical language, it is also, I think, a very rich and interesting one.
What is the most difficult part of the job?
Extended periods of concentration, reconciling yourself to not interfering with the writer's style, and not knowing whether you have a steady flow of work to do at all times.
Andrew's route to his proofreading job
- A levels.
- Degree in media studies.
- Proofreading course with a training organisation.
Andrew's proofreading tip
- It can take quite a while to get established if you want to be self-employed.
- So, don't give up your day job until you can secure enough freelance work to support yourself.
Proofreading related jobs
- Copy editor
- Newspaper editor
- Publishing editor
- Technical author
Salary of a Proofreader
- Recommended hourly rates range from £15 to £20.
- Some highly specialised work can pay up to £35 an hour.
- Most proofreaders are self-employed but some agencies and publishing houses still employ full-time proofreaders.
- Starting salaries would be around £16,000 to £18,000.
How to become a Proofreader
- Some proofreaders have worked in publishing or journalism.
- Many proofreaders have a degree – either in English or in a subject that becomes their specialist field for proofreading – but this isn't essential.
- The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) and other training organisations also offer short courses.
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