What inspired me to create this proofreading course?
A friend of mine, knowing that I was an Operations Manager in the publishing department of the UK's largest mail order and online retailer, revealed, over coffee, that his brother had just completed a proofreading course and was on the lookout for freelance opportunities.
“Proofreading course?” I said.
I’d honestly never heard of such a thing. In the 12 years I’d been in the employ of this particular organisation, I’d worked with at least a couple of dozen proofreaders; I’d interviewed and hired several proofreaders, both permanent and freelance; I’d been responsible for the training and personal development of a number of proofreaders. And not one of them had possessed any formal proofreading qualification or boasted membership of any official proofreading order. Nor had any of them attended a proofreading course of any description. I myself had signed my name to countless proofs and had never attended so much as a seminar.
“Which proofreading course is that?”
“Oh, you know, the official one,” my friend replied.
Official? It appeared there was so much I didn’t know about proofreading, despite having worked with proofreaders for more than a decade and having applied my own steady eye, keen judgement and red pen on literally hundreds of occasions.
“Well, I hope it was the official one,” my friend continued, “it cost him nearly two-hundred pounds.”
“Two-hundred pounds?” I said, unable to conceal my dismay.
My friend sagged a little, sighed. “It was a scam, wasn’t it?”
I shrugged. “Well, not so much a scam as just unnecessary.”
The proofreading course revealed
A week or so later, over a couple of beers, my friend showed me this ‘official’ proofreading course.
It consisted of a couple of manuals, boasting about three hundred pages in total.
I hefted the spiral-bound volumes in one hand.
“Well,” I said, “if he was paying by the pound, he got pretty good value for money.”
I opened the first volume and flipped through it.
“If he was paying for content, however...”
“Scam?” suggested my friend.
“Not entirely. I mean, there’s definitely some useful stuff in here. But there’s also an awful lot of padding. An awful lot of padding.”
“What do you mean ‘padding’?” he asked.
“Most of it’s exercises,” I replied. “Look. Pages and pages of text taken from a few old novels with a some deliberate mistakes thrown in. And look at this. Around forty pages about grammar, spelling and punctuation.”
“But doesn’t a proof reader need to be pretty hot on those things?”
“Of course. But if you’re a bit ropey when it comes to the basics of effective written English, you need to sort that out before you even consider becoming a proof reader. And then you’d be much better off picking up Fowler’s Modern English Usage for a few quid. This thing’s cost your brother about a pound a page. So, the grammar section alone set him back forty pounds sterling.”
“Are you going to tell him, or shall I?”
“He’s your brother.”
“I wonder, sometimes.”
“Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I could put together a proofreading guide a fraction of the size of this monster, and at a fraction of the cost.”
“Why don’t you, then?”
“Well, it’s just that... erm, well...”
“My brother would buy one. That’s your first sale, right there.”
“It’s just I’ve got quite a lot on at the moment, and... erm...”
“Come on. Put your money where your mouth is.”
That sounded like a challenge, and I’ve always quite liked a challenge.
So, here we are.
The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course. It won’t cost you two hundred pounds. It won’t even cost you one hundred pounds. In fact, it won’t even cost you fifty pounds. This downloadable eBook, full of nothing-but-useful information will set you back a mere nineteen pounds and ninety-nine pence.