We recently had the opportunity to talk to Mark Schultz, CEO and Founder of Word Refiner. Mark started proofreading in 1974. After retiring from a career in construction he went full time with Word Refiner. During the interview, Schultz gave us an insider’s view of what it is like to be a successful proofreader. He also shared some of his words of wisdom on the beauty of proofreading and book promotion.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation (edited for clarity):

Me: So, why don’t we start off by you telling me about your job function and your creative process?

Schultz: I do proofreading and book promoting. Those are my two main functions. It turns out I have a pretty unique talent. I find the invisible spelling errors that computer spellcheckers, editors, and other proofreaders miss.

I have classified four categories of spelling errors: misspelled words, misplaced words, multiple words, and missing words. The latter is the hardest because the words on the page are not there when they should be.

Sometimes people ask me about misplaced words. I explained that they are correctly spelled words, but in the wrong context, the exact thing that a spell checker can miss and that can happen by homophone error and typographical mistakes. Think about those homophones that we know so well, to, too, and two and they’re, their, and there. Those are only two examples out of thousands that are there to trip up our writing.

I have blogged quite a bit about these sources of errors. As part of my book promoting, I put up a new book review every week.

Me: I think it’s awesome that we still have proofreaders in the book industry and that we’re not entirely relying on the technological industry of trying to completely edit a book.

Schultz: Yes, I am too. When computers first came out I thought maybe I was going to be out of a job. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had nothing to worry about.

Me: *chuckles Indeed. So from your perspective, what is the beauty of proofreading?

Schultz: That’s a great question, Mela. I love it. I also love taking a well-written book and giving it a final polish, removing the smallest flaws, so the prose shines in the reader’s mind without encountering a spelling error that can ruin the smooth flow of their reading pleasure.

Me: That’s beautiful. Like I said before, I’m glad there are proofreaders who make reading enjoyable. What are some news outlets or resources do you trust that pertain to your field?

Schultz: Well, I subscribe to a number of bloggers and the list is too long to use here. But my top two favorite bloggers are Joanna Penn and Ann R. Allen. They consistently bring information-packed topics to light that are very applicable to authors of all kinds.

Me: Wonderful. My last question for you is what would you tell people to look for when choosing a proofreader?

Schultz: I would say look for someone with a broad range of experience. I believe it is just as important for a proofreader to read as well as an author; recommendations and testimonials, which are also worth quite a bit, especially if the person giving that recommendation can be contacted for verification.

To visit Mark Schultz’s work, visit him at Wordrefiner.com.

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