This week we were going to write a blog on the importance of having your submissions proofread, but then we thought who better to write it than our actual proofreader. So, here is a guest blog on proofreading, written by our proofreader.
It’s difficult to have your document proofread. Even the most self confident writer has a little bit of dread inside them when they open a document that the proofreader’s had a go at. Just how bad can it be? Surely there will only be a very little red pen? After all, I read the document twice myself.
I’ve seen this from both sides of the fence, as I’m a published author and I also work as an editor and proofreader. The first time a section of my book came back from the editor I stared at the email for quite a while before plucking up courage to open it. There were a lot of comments. My editor is generous and knows how to get the best out of her authors, because she made sure to comment on what I’d done right, as well as what needed work, but as is the way of these things, I completely ignored all the positive ones, and focused on the negative. I would never write again, obviously, because I really was that bad. For some time after that, the process of me being edited and proofread went something like this:
Get document back. Open it, read it, sulk. Disagree violently with everything I’ve been told needs work. Go away and drink tea. Go through document and admit that, as usual, the editor has a point.
Once I’d got over the bashes to my ego, and addressed all the issues the editor pointed out, the piece was always much better than it had been before. What I came to understand as the process went on was that it wasn’t about what I’d done, it was about what I could do: make the book as good as it possibly could be.
Proofreading PQQs and Tenders
As a writer, you need to make your document, be it a PQQ, tender, or a book, as good as it possibly can be. That will mean listening to what other people think about it, and most importantly, thinking about it dispassionately, and acting on it. Every document Executive Compass writes is checked for quality. The person who can write 1,000 words of immaculate copy is very, very rare. There is very little written that cannot be improved by an edit, and bear in mind that it is almost impossible to proofread your own work. Your brain sees what it wants to see.
It’s vital that you de-personalise the process of being edited, and focus on what you can learn from your proofreader and editor. What you want to achieve with your responses to a PQQ or tender is a piece of writing that allows the assessor to focus on what you want to say. You need to convince them that you are the best company for the project, not have them stop, puzzled, in the middle of a section because they cannot work out what you are trying to say, or to become irritated because you persistently put apostrophes in places they have no business to be.
These things matter. If you manage to get the name of your company wrong, put an out of date address in, change the names of key personnel halfway through the document, then what is the assessor supposed to think? If you can’t pay enough attention to detail to get these things right, are you going to pay attention towards the elderly people you want to care for? Or the major building project? All these mistakes are easy to make if you’re in a rush, or if you’re feeling pressurised because you have other work you know you need to do.
Remember, proofreading and editing are there to make your work as good as it possibly can be. Getting it right matters.