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Memoir Proofreading FAQ

Our best answers to your best questions

We believe that every memoir can benefit from proofreading. After reading this FAQ page on proofreading memoir, give us a ring at 207-353-5454 to set up your proofreading consultation.

Q. Can I see a sample of the proofreader’s work?

A. We can certainly understand your wish to check the memoir proofreading ability of a professional before you engage for services. In the end, the finished product is still the author’s creation. Authors can always override a proofreader’s suggested changes, which can occur if the author is striving to maintain what s/he calls “voice” or is simply enamored of the original text.

A goal of proofreading a memoir is to serve as a defender of the quality AND the voice of the manuscript, but the author always has the final say. For this reason, in this memoir proofreading FAQ, as much as we want to, it is difficult to agree we can offer you a finished product to convey the proofreader’s ability and expertise. You will always get the author’s writing. But here is a sample anyway.

Q. What if I do not like the proofreader’s work?

coaching or editingA. The hour trial is your opportunity to check a proofreader. At the end of the hour, you will receive several pages of proofed text. We would encourage you to engage with the proofreader to check out why s/he made suggestions you might disagree with. But note that even in those cases where the proofreader has misunderstood what you wrote, this can become a positive for your manuscript: it signals that a misunderstanding has been inadvertently built into your text and other readers will also misunderstand. This lack of consonance between you and your proofreader is an opportunity for you to rewrite and eliminate the wrong cues. Proofreading a memoir often opens a dialogue.


Q. Is good grammar always important? When proofreading a memoir, will the proofreader insist on correct grammar and sanitize my text?

A. How much correction you want is something to discuss with the proofreader. The short answer this memoir proofreading FAQ provides is, of course, good grammar is important!

But this would not really be a sufficient answer. If you think of grammar as a code that facilitates communication, then good grammar becomes essential to any piece of writing. Too often, however, good grammar is associated with “stuffy” writing. Of course, good grammar is not stuffy; it is a vehicle for understanding and clear meaning.
There are two places in any memoir where a good proofreader — and earlier, a writer and an editor — would handle grammar differently from the usual “correct” way.

  1. The first is with dialogue—whether direct or indirect. The dialogue ought to reflect the spoken word of your subject, and as such, it will reveal the educational, cultural, and social background of a character who is quoted and any other characters who might appear in the narrative and speak in indirect dialog. A memoir character’s direct speech generally should not be altered. The proofreader’s challenge is to make sure that any phonetic equivalents of the spoken language are easily understood by readers.
  2. A second instance of handling grammar appears in the narrative. The largest portion of any memoir will be narrative text and not quoted text. The narrative is everything that is not dialogue, and this part of the memoir should be written in a way that is easy to read and understand: another way of saying this is that it should be “grammatically correct.”

Your proofreader will talk with you about your goals for your text, what to keep, and what to avoid.

Q. Does the proofreader have a responsibility to fact-check data included in the book?

A. This is usually an editor’s job, and a proofreader would generally not be checking facts this unless there is a glaring error. You can request, however, when someone us proofreading a memoir of yours, that s/he fact-check. Memoir proofreading is flexible!

Q. Will proofreading a memoir involve any editing?

A. Your proofreader is likely to do what you might call light editing. This is inevitable as s/he brings a fresh perspective to your writing and may catch issues which even your editor let pass by unmarked as s/he was reading and rereading your story.

Q. What if I have not had any editing done? Can I still have my manuscript proofread?

A. If you have not worked with an editor, there are two possibilities:

  1. If you are confident about the viability and correctness of your text, you can ask your proofreader to do light editing. Your proofreader will be straightforward with you if s/he feels that your text needs more in-depth editing.
  2. You can contact the office for an editorial review of your text.

A conclusion to the proofreading a memoir FAQ

In this memoir proofreading FAQ, we have attempted to answer the most frequently asked questions, but if you still have a question that is not answered, please give us a ring at 207-353-5454 or email us.

Are you ready to work with one of the best memoir proofreaders available?

We offer an introductory package—try us for a one-hour commitment. That’s it: one hour! If we’re a fit, you ask us for more time. If we’re not a fit, we go our separate ways.

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Memoir Proofreading