for proofreading, copy-editing, copywriting

How Not to Engage a Proofreader

It’s a fallacy that a freelance proofreader will take on any work, for almost any fee, as long as they are kept busy. Well, in my case it is. I have come across a number of potential clients who for some reason believe I do this as a hobby and am grateful for the opportunity to exercise this. Others simply don’t know what I do, or how. Then there are those who think I should do it for the sheer pleasure of it and not be paid much, if at all. Others can be dictatorial, downright rude, weird, or all three.

Here are some ways of approaching a freelance proofreader which will nearly always result in you being left high and dry.

  1. Ring the proofreader at 5 p.m. and insist your job is urgent and has to be back by 9 a.m. tomorrow. Your problem is not about to become mine, I am in the middle of something and would like to get to bed before midnight.
  2. Refuse to pay a cent until you are completely satisfied with the job, regardless of the length of the project. How do I know I’m ever going to get paid? Do you do this when you shop online?
  3. Ask if a share of the revenue from your fab self-published novel will be okay as a fee. No. No, no, no.
  4. Ring the proofreader and say you have written a book. Wait a few seconds for congratulatory sounds. After the silence, gabble on and name-drop about all your contacts in publishing, even though you are going to self-publish. Then hang up without mentioning proofreading. Don’t waste my time.
  5. Ring the proofreader and speak down to them, demand written references and say how important you are. Everyone’s important. Agreed, are more important than others but it’s not you.

    Pic for proofreader blog
    Image credit: massonforstock / 123RF Stock Photo
  6. Ask for a substantial discount because you are an impoverished student but you have emailed me from the latest, top-of-the-range smartphone. How much a month do you pay for that mobile, exactly?
  7. Ask for a ‘bulk discount’ because your manuscript is extra long. Proofreading has to be done at a certain speed all the way through. Do you want me to skim over the second half and miss things? I might even slow down over time through taking extra breaks to prevent me from swearing or slapping the computer screen.
  8. Ask for a discount for regular work but it involves a small number of short essays over a six-month period. (See point 7 above).
  9. Send me a 5,000 word sample from your appalling, badly-written novel which you expect me to transform for nothing. Then, totally reject my work and comments saying you’ll throw it up to Amazon anyway, as it is. Good luck with that. Oh, and don’t bother me again.
  10. Befriend me, then expect me to work for you for nothing, indefinitely. Words fail me.

I love the clients I take on, and will always go the extra mile for them. Most have become friends – but I still charge them!


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