Kateproof offers an affordable and efficient proofreading service

Hints and tips for proofreading adult fiction

Posted on 31st October 2014

I'm currently working on a book that could come under a variety of genres but I'd say 'adult fantasy' probably covers what you need to know. This isn't the first bit of work I've done on books with an adult theme, and in fact I often get asked if it's a topic I'm happy to proofread. I have no issues working on books with graphic sex, drugs or violence though I know some people do, so if you're an author looking to hire a freelance proofreader or editor, it's probably best to cover that before you go down the quoting and scheduling process. As an aside, I used to think 'adult fiction' more or less only meant erotica but that's not necessarily the case, and some publishers and booksellers use the term for anything that doesn't come under the children, young adult or new adult genres. If in doubt, just make it clear what the book is about.

Although most of the work for this sort of book is the same as what I do for any proofreading job, I do feel there are a few nuances so I thought I'd share them. Hopefully this will be useful to people writing, editing or proofreading such books. I have refrained from including examples in this blog, but if you want any then feel free to email me.

I have the Urban Dictionary bookmarked because sometimes there's a word or phrase I don't know the meaning of and it saves an author's blushes having to ask them what something fairly sordid means. As they've used the word, they probably wouldn't be that embarrassed if asked, but it's probably quicker and easier to check there first. A note of caution: the Urban Dictionary is compiled by the users so the spellings may not be how your author has/wants them. In that case, it's then a question of deciding which option you and your author want and keeping it consistent, which ties in with the next point.

Because I find there is a higher percentage of non-standard terms, especially for erotic sci-fi or fantasy compared with most of the other genres I work on, it is even more important to keep a style guide of how I've chosen to hyphenate or spell certain words. Some are in the dictionaries but others need to be looked up online and there are only so many times you want to see that image. By referring to the style guide instead, you know you are being consistent and it saves time.

I also need to keep tabs on methods of capitalisation; for example, if the book has a BDSM element, Mistress will be capitalised but the name of the sub won't be. It may then be that mistress is used elsewhere in the book and not related to the bedroom antics and then it would take a lower-case m. I know there are issues with capitalisation in all books but it does seem like there are more complex nuances in this genre so it is worth keeping an eye out for.

Thankfully I've only ever worked with authors I've felt comfortable asking all sorts of queries, but I think this is more important for this genre than any other. If you don't think you'll feel comfortable discussing the nitty-gritty of the book, then it probably won't work well for either party.

And on a slightly serious note to end, if you share your work computer with your family members, you will want to make sure you have different user access or will need to clear the history every day. And if you work in a shared office, it's probably best to tell anyone sitting near you what you're working on before they look over your shoulder and see an image of something they don't want to!

Written by Kate Haigh.