7 Questions With Proofreader Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz has been proofreading for over 40 years. Hyper-spelling is not software, it is a combination of talent amplified with repeated and constant usage. Many of the spelling errors jump off the page at him, even when reading casually. He has not found anyone who can do quite what he can. “If others could do it, there would be fewer books with spelling errors,” he says.
Mark admires the creative process of writing and the people who can do it. He doesn’t have a book desperate to get out of him. He would rather read a well-written book.
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Have you ever found authors you were not compatible with? Can you share more details on this experience?
There was one author who expected me to do everything an editor does. I could not get him to understand the difference between an editor and a proofreader. I hadn’t mentioned the word editor or editing on my website because I am aware of the differences. I lost him as a client. It did cause me to review my website and make it clearer about the service I perform.
What are some of the myths around the editing business?
One of the myths is that the rules of grammar are written in stone. They aren’t. The rules of grammar change, as does the language, but the process of change for the rules is slower than that of the English language itself.
The rules of grammar make it easier to understand the author’s message. They are important, make no mistake about that. However, doing something different for the sake of being different is silly.
What should authors do before handing you over a manuscript?
An author should have their book edited before they send it to me. I am a proofreader, not an editor; I prefer the term polisher, actually. I take a well-crafted manuscript and uncover the invisible spelling errors including missing words.
I find simple punctuation errors also, such as commas for dialogue tags. Making sure they have done everything they can allows me to charge them less. My rate is based on the density of errors I find in a sample from the middle of the book.
Could you give authors a few tips on writing?
Get rid of the filler words, the empty calorie words that do not really advance the story. Here are a few to watch out for, they are so ubiquitous that they become invisible also: just, perhaps, maybe, seems, seemed, that, really, slightly, almost. There are more, this is only a sample.
If the author makes every word earn its place on the page the story will be the better. Exception, there is always an exception. Dialogue is a place where these words can live, but only to help differentiate one character from another. They can’t all talk the same. You want to make it easy for the reader to know who is talking, then you can get rid of the dialogue tags and replace them with action beats.
We all know this industry is full of surprises. Can you share an unexpected experience?
One of the earliest surprises was learning about some of the minute differences among the many versions of English. There is far more than American English and British English. There are many English-speaking countries beyond the USA, Britain, Ireland, Canada and Australia.
There are quite a few countries in Africa that have English as the official language, to bridge the regional dialects and tribal languages. Many other countries use English alongside their native language also.
I have located several country specific dictionaries of slang, these have been quite helpful when proofreading, they prevent me from calling something an error when it’s not.
What dictates the price of an editor?
Some editors charge by the word like I do, others charge by the hour. I do perform some of the functions of a line editor, but not all of them; therefore, I charge less than many editors. Some editors have specialized training, even advanced certificates in the field.
They will likely charge more. I would if I had that type of training.
I offer the ability to find the spelling errors that everyone else misses. I post at least one book review a week, on average, I find only one book a year that is free of spelling errors. That means the others do have spelling errors.
How many services can you offer authors and how do they differ?
I have two main services, proofreading and book promotion. Since I have already talked about my proofreading service, I will talk about book promotion. My promotion service is detailed on my website. In short, I read and review a book. I place the review on three different selling platforms, usually Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble.
Wherever the book is sold mostly. I also post the review on my website, with buy links and the author’s social media information. I post the review links on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages. If the author is willing, we do the only live interview for authors, on the internet. The interview is conducted in the comments section under the review on my website. It’s live because anyone can join in and ask their own questions, though few do. It’s an easy-peasy thing.
Find Mark Schultz on his website
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