Kateproof offers an affordable and efficient proofreading service

Starting off on the right foot: how to lure a proofreader or editor in

Posted on 16th June 2017

I get quite a lot of queries for me to quote for proofreading or editing work and I honestly think that over the last 7 years, I can count on one hand how many emails I've not replied to (aside from spam, obviously). But a few weeks ago I received a rather odd email, and though I did reply, I saw it discussed on a forum post where many other editors were wary that it was some sort of scam email and they chose not to reply. This made me think that perhaps it would be helpful to write this blog post for authors about how to start on the right foot when contacting potential editors and proofreaders for your book.

How to address the proofreader?

I'd like to think my name is a bit of a giveaway in Kateproof, but I accept that for non-native speakers, maybe that's not the clearest. But I have my name above my photo on my website, clear in my email address and my full name in the copyright details at the bottom of my website. All directories I'm listed on have my full name too, as do all my social media accounts. So when I receive an email and the sender does not address it to me, I have to wonder how many other people have been sent the same message and how committed the author is to having a good client relationship.

I don't mind if you say Dear, Hi, Hello etc., and though I am not very formal and soon ask clients to call me Kate, if you call me Mrs Haigh or Mrs Kate Haigh to start with, that's also fine. It's just nice to feel like you are intentionally contacting me and not carpet-bombing every editor or proofreader you can find on the internet.

What editing or proofreading service do you want?

I've written blog posts about the different services I offer and also one about the process flow for a manuscript and I accept that sometimes it's not easy for authors to know exactly what is required, but it does help if you start by saying what you think you want. If necessary, explain what you want from my editing or proofreading service without using the terms editing and proofreading: do you want the file to be formatted, help with the plot/characters, just a final polish as it's already been edited and typeset? And this may seem a weird extra point but it's best if you don't put one term in the subject of the email and then talk about a different service in the body of the email: if you put proofreading in the subject line and talk about an edit, it's a sure-fire way to confuse me.

Provide manuscript details

I know how precious a work in progress can be and I appreciate that you might not want to send a sample to everyone you contact, so if you don't want to send a sample until you know that I am the right person for you and my schedule suits, that's fine, but it would be great if you can give details about the current situation with the manuscript, such as:

  • what work you've done on the manuscript so far, e.g. editing, beta readers, critique, formatting
  • the word count
  • your preferred schedule
  • the genre
  • whether you intend to self-publish or submit to agents/publishers

What about the budget?

I know it can be frustrating that so many editors and proofreaders don't include prices on their websites but editing and proofreading work can vary so much for each project. That said, if you have a set budget and can only afford that, feel free to be upfront about it.

What sort of reply do you want?

I guess the adage of getting back what you put in comes into play with emails. With the example mentioned at the top of this post, I replied to the enquirer but didn't want to work with that person. Based on the forum posts I have read, many other people didn't even reply and those who did also didn't want to take on the project. If the enquirer had addressed people individually, given more details about what they wanted and who they were, I think that they would have received far more fruitful responses.

Written by Kate Haigh.