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Dear Bobby,
I am getting very close to sending out my memoir book proposal. Soon I will have to clean up my first draft. One thing I have learned as an engineer is that it is impossible to check your own work. I have two wonderful ladies that love my book and give me content advice as well as some proofing. But I know I need everything proofread. What can I expect to pay to have a 100,000 word book proofread by a pro? What can I expect to pay to have a 100,000 word book edited by a pro? What exactly is the difference? Is there value in both? Thanks, Dick Schlueter  

Dear Dick:

Before I address pricing, let me explain the job of a proofreader versus the job of an editor.

A proofreader should be employed after a book has been designed and before it goes to press. A good proofreader finds flaws in the typing, punctuation, and spelling only. It is not the job of a proofreader to make any improvements regarding organization or content or correct awkward or unclear sentences, only to fix the few errors that may have been left after (or resulted from) the final revision and design. Proofreaders charge less than editors because they do less work. Proposals do not need proofreaders, because they are not designed and printed. Proposals, however, may very well need an editor. Proposals represent the nonfiction book and its author, and publishers decide whether or not to buy a nonfiction book based on the proposal.

Editors can be employed at almost any point, but to get the best job, employ an editor after finishing a second or third draft. First make the manuscript or proposal the best you can make it, and then turn it over to an editor. The proposal should include three sample chapters that the editor should also edit.

Depending upon what services you pay for, a concept editor may read the manuscript and report on the elements, big-picture items such as content, pacing, organization, creative issues, and such. When editors work on fiction, the elements would include plot, dialogue, characterization, and such. A line editor, however, addresses the small-picturer items, mechanical problems such as awkward or unclear sentences, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and possibly even compliance with Chicago Style. Some editors offer both concept and line editing separately or at the same time. Some offer only one or the other service. To get the best editing job for the best price, I recommend that you use an editor who addresses line and concept editing simultaneously, which is something I do, when the client requests it, but I also edit the electronic file, if the author prefers, which is strictly line editing.

I cannot speak for the prices of others, but I can point you to my fees and services. I keep my prices in the middle of the range, neither the highest nor the lowest on the market, yet I provide the highest quality of editing available. For my pricing information see

Even if you choose another editing service, I hope you will sign up for my free newsletter while you are on my Web site.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I'm here to help.  

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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