For many aspiring freelance editors, proofreading is the best (and in some cases, the only) way to get a foot in the door. But what are proofreaders actually looking for?
I refuse to believe we can’t move past the paperback designs of the past with their jumble of chunky fonts, strange color palettes, and, dare I say, unappealing illustrations of aliens.
No matter how brilliant a piece of writing is, if it doesn’t know who the audience should be or doesn’t give enough context about its subject, the writing fails to be read, understood, and shared. It fails to communicate. The same holds true for book design.
Unlike copyediting, which focuses purely on the text, proofreaders engage with the book after the interior has been designed and laid out. That means that in addition to keeping an eye out for egregious grammar errors and typos, the proofreader is focused on aesthetics: eliminating typographic gaffes such as widows, orphans, and runts; marking bad breaks and word stacks; and ensuring design elements such as subheads and running heads are handled consistently.
As a writer, the process of designing books can be overwhelming. You already know what good book covers and interiors look like, and you probably already know some of the basic concepts of design, but you may not necessarily know the right terms to use.
Women make up the bulk of sci-fi readership in addition to romance readership. They aren’t put off by “masculine” covers. Yet women writers still find themselves marginalized on the shelf by curly script and a florid indulgence of pink. Which begs the question: to what purpose?