How This Proofreader And Editor Started Working On Books With Zero Prior Experience

As a proofreading and editing instructor, my favourite part of the job is hearing how students’ lives have changed as a result of chasing their goals. The truth is, we all have things we think of doing, but how often do we act on them? Today I have a special interview with Christopher, who became ill and had to reassess what he wanted to do for a living, which led to him working on books, even with zero prior experience.

I hope you find his story inspirational and proof that it is possible to work as a proofreader and copy editor if you take action. Christopher juggles being a caregiver for his mother, full-time freelance proofreading and editing for romance novels, co-writing with clients, and writing his own books. He also drops some great advice for finding work and gives us a peek at his day! I won’t say too much here because his interview is too good for you to miss. 

Psst. I also have an amazing offer for you to take action like Christopher, so keep an eye out for it below!

What did you do before becoming a proofreader and editor?


Before I entered the world of proofreading and copyediting, I worked in healthcare. I was a secretary, had been a pharmacy technician, was an EMT in a trauma ICU, and also was a Cardiac Monitor Technician. I lived in 7 different states (I love to travel), and my skills at the time enabled me to experience the different parts of the United States and meet a wide variety of people.

What made you decide to get into proofreading and copyediting?


Last year I was diagnosed with two different illnesses contracted from tick bites. I was bed ridden for a month and a half and was no longer able to work a regular job requiring any type of heavy physical activity. Even though the medication I took eliminated the diseases, there are lasting effects such as flare ups, joint problems, and chronic fatigue.

Since I also take care of my mother, a steady income is a necessity, so I started to research the different at-home job possibilities. One day while reading a book on my Kindle, I was distracted by all the punctuation errors (so many commas!) and was disappointed because I kept being pulled from the story.

It was at this moment I began researching what could be done to help make an author’s work the best it could be and that is when I found out about the different types of editing and the Art of Proofreading course, [High-Level Proofreading Pro]. I love to read, so this was a win-win situation.

What kind of content do you work on? Do you prefer any specific genres?


At the moment, I work specifically on novels, novellas, and shorts in the MM romance genre, and these range from contemporary to paranormal and shifter stories.

What do you like best about being a proofreader and copy editor?


I like knowing that I have assisted in some small way to make the content the best it can be for the author so the reader can enjoy and get lost in a story without choppy flow, inconsistencies, punctuation errors, and plot holes.

It is also nice to read so many different stories and be paid to do it. The ability to set my own schedule is another perk. If my mother needs help, or there is anything that needs to be taken care of, I have the ability to step away from the computer and pick up where I left off when I come back.

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You also did some higher level editorial work for a client. Can you tell us about that?


One of my clients sent me work for proofing and line editing, but when I opened the doc, I have to admit there was nothing a simple proof could do to save this work. As I perused it, though, I realized that the storyline itself was good and would be popular, and with some TLC, it had potential.

After speaking with the client, we decided to do an actual complete rewrite, and I would be listed as co-author and have my pen name on the cover. It was an undertaking, as I first had to go through and formulate fragmented sentences and poor word choices into comprehensive paragraphs — the book was originally written by a ghost writer, but by the time we reached the end, it became completely my co-author’s and my book.

Next, we began the task of the actual rewrite, which also included some major content changes. When the beta readers finished their read through and left notes, I went in to address those issues and performed the final proofread.

I am happy to say that the book made it to number fifty-five on Amazon in its specific category, and I have just finished the outline for the second book!

Christopher Daprona is a proofreader, copy editor, and editor for romance novels. He is also a published author and is currently working on his next novel.

Can you give us a peek at what your typical day is like?


I can’t say there’s a “typical” day, which is one of the greatest things about proofreading and copyediting. I am always up at seven in the morning because my dogs wake me for their outing. Coffee is also a daily necessity.

The only other daily routine I follow is checking my business emails and replying to those that require a response, though honestly, most of my clients actually use Messenger to get ahold of me.

For my workday, I have the option to either work from home or go to a coffee shop or bookstore, and I like to start by 9 am. I am able to take breaks as necessary for any help my mother may need, or for errands. I prefer to wrap up my workday so I can spend time on my own personal writing and relaxation. Sometimes there are projects which require me to work later, but because I love what I do, I have no problem with this.

What did you think of learning proofreading and copyediting through an online course as opposed to winging it with no training?


Learning through an online course was the best decision I could have made. Some things have changed since my last English classes, or were forgotten, and with the advent of the internet, there are guidelines for that as well.

Though it is embarrassing to admit, I honestly had no idea there are manuals of style. The fact that High-Level Proofreading Pro covered UK as well as US English has proved to be extremely helpful since at least half of my clients are from the UK.

What advice do you have for people who are considering proofreading and copyediting?


I definitely recommend taking the Art of Proofreading online course, High-Level Proofreading Pro. The topics covered are concise and exactly what is necessary to enter the editing field, and knowing that Phon is there to provide support to students, even after completion, really makes one feel that they are not alone in this.

Also, depending on the specific genre, start to network now if you decide to pursue this line of work so that your name becomes recognizable. I work with several self-published authors, and many of them are hesitant to have work done by someone who is an unknown or just starting out because there have been many scams and/or poor-quality work.

I joined groups on Facebook run by authors I enjoyed, and began commenting on posts and interacting. Much of my work is by word-of-mouth, so my online presence isn’t as prevalent as it should be, but I will be fixing that and using my Facebook business page and Twitter more regularly.

Another recommendation is to have a daily planner of some sort and make sure to schedule your clients appropriately so as not to overwhelm yourself with projects on a tight deadline. I learned that the hard way. Do research and ask others in the content area you want to work in, and find out the average turnaround time to give yourself the appropriate window to properly complete the projects. If a client wants something rushed, charge appropriately. Always know your work is worth it.

Be consistent with the quality of your work. This is key to repeat and future projects. If you make an error, own it. Fix it. Keep the client happy because they generally will be forgiving. We are only human.

Finally, DON’T use a program to do your work! I have run across manuscripts which have been run through a grammar program and needed to have in-depth proofreading to correct those errors. I have experimented myself with one well-known program just to see what it would come up with against what I know to be correct, and I was left unimpressed. Read line-by-line, and your speed and accuracy will improve the longer you do this.

About Christopher Daprona


I am Christopher Daprona and am a freelance proofreader, copyeditor, and a published author who currently lives in the NE United States. I work primarily with self-published authors in the US and UK. When I am not working on one of my client’s projects, you can find me writing, reading for enjoyment, working on cars, or involved in some other outdoor activity — always with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, if possible. My Facebook business page @AlphaEdit is where more information can be found.

3 thoughts on “How This Proofreader And Editor Started Working On Books With Zero Prior Experience”

  1. I have say I loved reading your story and how things have turned out for you, even though it wasn’t easy.

    I’m happy for you that you have made it, and I wish you more success in the future.

  2. Thank you Christopher for sharing your story. I want to begin with proofreading and editing (I never did it before) and you encouraged me with your success – from being a beginner, then to be a professional.
    I come from Germany and have been in the US for 6 years. It will be a challenge but since I LOVE to read and hate wrong written words etc. I think I can make it.
    Wishing you the very best for your future,
    with best regards,
    Angelika

  3. Very nice interview and very inspiring story.
    I’m glad things turned out very positive for you and wish you much success in the future!
    What advice do you have for someone starting out in the proofreading business?

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