Prooof Reeding!


First, hears a pitcher that has absolutely nothing to due with the post.  Just put it in two remind ewe that the Towers that are A Word with You Press are everywear!  This is the wok by the Vltava River in Cesky Krumlov, about 20 K from are home in Ceske Budejovice, in the heart of Bohemia.

It really sucks to be anyone but me!

Part of our raison d’etre at the towers is to share knowledge to help everyone who visits become a better writer, by however you care to define “better.”

So here is a blog I produced for the non-profit Empowering Latinos, formerly known as Latino Literacy Now founded over 20 years ago by Kirk Whisler and Edward James Olmos.

Proofreading, # three in a series about what an editor does:

Etched on a facade in Cesky Krumlov


Previously we discussed ways that a developmental editor, also called a substantive editor, helps you shape your manuscript, paying attention to the story arc and plot, and character development, and of course, improve the way you tell your story. Less creative, but equally important, is the proof reader.  Theirs is the exacting work; they don’t choose your ensemble or color-coordinate suit and tie: they make sure your shirt is pressed and the pleats of the evening gown ironed before you make your formal appearance.

Spellcheck and programs like Grammarly tend to reduce the workload for a proofreader, but they are no substitute for a practiced eye.  Did you mean “bear witness” or “bare witness?”  Did you witness a bear meandering through the woods? Did you just come out of the shower naked and witnessed the accident through the window?   Bear/bare with me; a proofreader will catch these eras.  (A proof reader will also understand I meant “errors” and not “eras” which would fly under the radar of Spellcheck.)  And should that period I just dropped down come before or after the parenthesis?

Just minor\miner details?  Why is it important?  Whatever it is you write, you are trying to persuade someone of something important.   You lose the argument when you lose credibility.  A professionally published manuscript littered with typos or syntax that sins tells the reader that you lack the skills or dedication to present something unblemished. Furthermore, you want NOTHING to interrupt the flow of ideas from your pen. Each “little” flaw occupies space in the mind of your reader that should instead be filling up with the thoughts or feelings you want to share with them.  A disagreement between noun and verb or switching from past to present tense can ignite a civil war on any page of your work, disrupting your story. Your developmental editor will probably catch most of this, but it is a different skill set that disarms the combatants and prepares you for print.

After I edited a very fine manuscript, its author was pleased to tell me, thinking he could save a few dollars, that his sister who teaches high school English would proofread it. “Fair enough,” I told him.  As we prepared to print, my curiosity got the better of me, and I combed over the manuscript myself and found 130 errors, all very subtle. (The professional standard for a printed book is fewer than four errors per 100,000 words.)

And finally a Pulitzer Prize-winner I work with published a book and the first page listed him as a “Pulizter” Prize winner.

You have invested time, and probably a bit of blood and money in your manuscript. Maybe sleepless nights, too. Work an extra couple of shifts to pay for the services of a proofreader, who will see that your fine effort is free of typos and arrows of spacing, grammar, spelling, syntax and such. (Did I mean errors?)

Thornton Sully is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Word with You Press, and GrassrootGrants. And he will review up to 30 pages of your manuscript in any stage of completion and provide professional feedback pro bono. Send your manuscript as an attachment to  for a personalized evaluation.

And please don’t forget…we have a current contest waiting for your wining/winning/whining entry:



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