Every one of you writers out there knows how much courage it takes to put a single word on the page, how vulnerable it makes you feel to pursue publishing those words, how much shame you feel when you get a “no” (how in the world do we not take that personally?!), and how much empathy you feel when you meet another writer struggling out there in the world.
So if you’re feeling a little low about it all, I highly recommend two things:
As an editor, I’ve seen everything from the blatant stealing of someone else’s work (seriously—this “author” had cut and pasted pieces of published articles from the internet and put them together in a book as his own work) to completely unintentional infringement (where the writer acknowledged that the words were part of a quote through the use of quotation marks but didn’t cite the author, book title, or anything else to tell where the quote had come from).
The thing is, no matter whether it’s intentional or not, plagiarism is still plagiarism. And it isn’t just ethically wrong; it can also lead to legal issues.
With that in mind, take a look at an article by LegalZoom to help you know exactly what constitutes plagiarism—and why you should care:
If you use another person’s work and do not attribute that work to the author, including copying text verbatim, paraphrasing a phrase or summarizing an idea, you are essentially committing plagiarism. Plagiarism usually occurs when a writer fails to: * cite quotes or ideas written by another author; * enclose direct text in quotes; or * put summaries and/or paraphrases in the his or her own words.
Today, I want to say a few things about when to have copyediting and proofreading done.
First, don’t bother with copyediting or proofreading until your project is 100% done. You will waste your time and, more importantly, your money. (Note: This doesn’t apply to developmental editing, which would take place when you have a first draft or, sometimes, even before.)
Copyediting is done when you’re finished with the final draft, but still have some elements you’re not quite sure about. This can be continuity (a character’s eye color changes throughout the book, for example, and you want to make sure every instance is caught and corrected); clarity (certain words might not be familiar to your intended audience, and you need suggestions on how to fix that); story or character arc; flow; unintentional plagiarism; or even the bibliography. If you haven’t already done so, this is also a good (albeit late) time to have a critique done!
Proofreading, however, isn’t tackled until you’re done done—as in, there are no more revisions, no more questions, no more anything. Your characters are all set, your story is solid, and you’re ready to move on to the publishing phase.
Proofreading should not be done if you plan to go back through the editor’s corrections and change things, as you will almost certainly end up with errors prior to publishing—not a good thing, not to mention it negates the point of paying for proofreading in the first place.
And remember, the only things a proofread will correct are spelling, punctuation, and grammar. There will be no reworking of awkward phrases, content suggestions, etc. (which is one of the reasons proofreading generally costs less than copyediting).
So before you sign on for proofreading, make sure you’re ready. But once it’s done, you’re done!