What to Do When You Can’t Afford a Proofreader

affordable proofreading

If you have been searching around for a proofreader lately, you may have found that many are outside your budget (like, waaaaay outside). At the same time, knowing that you’re human and all, you understand that you need someone with even a little expertise and experience to look over your work to make sure it’s as clean as possible. Here are some cost-effective alternatives to hiring a proofreader that can work for you as long as you’re willing to put in a little bit of elbow grease and time.

Be Part of the Proofreader’s Marketing

Showing off your skills when it comes to proofreading can be difficult. You can stage some markups, but it’s not quite the same as being able to show someone what that last Toni Morrison book looked like before and after the proofreader got their hands on it. Try asking the proofreader if they would be willing to take on your project with the understanding that they can use your original, error-laden text as part of their marketing for their business. They still may not proofread your work for nothing, but you may be able to work out a significant discount, or at least a flexible payment plan.

 

Recruit Volunteers

If you are a Volo Press Proofer reading this, you know what’s coming!

Another option for lower cost proofreading is simply to recruit avid readers who can help review your work for mistakes. All I did was put up a Craigslist ad and I had over 10 people sign up within about a week. You could ask friends and family members (the ones that don’t kiss your ass just because they know you) and co-workers as well. You’d be surprised–I know I was–at how many people are not just willing, but excited to help you with your project. Don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers!

And while I mail printed manuscripts to my crew, you could also email a digital version to them, or share a Google Doc with them and let everyone read and comment throughout the day. If you have a little bit of money to offer them, I’m sure they would appreciate it. I have so many, there’s no way I could pay them all more than, say, a dollar! But I do my best to offer my Proofers a worry-free experience by giving them everything they need to complete the project without them having to buy their own tools (i.e., an extra envelope, return postage, a highlighter, and a red pen that are theirs to keep), offering prizes for various project-related accomplishments (such as a quick turnaround or finding the biggest mistakes in the piece), and making sure that I credit them in each book. Play around with these ideas until you find something that works for you.

 

DIY Proofreading

It’s not impossible to do your own proofreading, it just usually isn’t as effective as having someone else look at your work. This is because, psychologically, you always understand what you meant to say because you’re the one who wrote it. This means that it’s easy for things like missing words and commas in strange places to slip right past you. However, when someone without your brain reviews a piece, it is a lot easier for them to spot certain kinds of errors.

If you think you really have no other option than to proofread your own work, there are a couple of ways you can make that endeavor more successful.

One method it to read aloud. When you have to read the words out loud, you’re more likely to catch when a passage is unclear or a word that you used in a sentence doesn’t quite fit.

The other is to read at about half your normal pace. Slowing down makes it a little easier to find the mistakes you would normally miss because you’re reading too fast.

One more strategy is to read the piece multiple times. I usually try to take at least a 48-hour break between readings. I’ve found that stepping away from a piece allows me to come back to it with eyes that are more fresh.

Of course, the triple threat is always the best. If you read your piece slowly and aloud at least twice, no one can fault you for whatever mistakes do slip through the cracks. These methods take a level of patience and commitment that would drive most people up the wall. But, being the literature freaks we are, it’s a labor of love that we gladly engaged in.

 

If you are ready to do any or all of these, kudos to you and good luck! If I just stressed you out by telling you what it might take to side-step hiring a proofreader, I’m always available to help with your blog posts, dissertations, resumes, or novels. Visit my proofreading page to learn more about proofreading at a penny per word!

Happy writing!

Upgrade Your Business: Hire a Ghostwriter

Hire a ghostwriter for your business

On any given day, there are millions (if not billions) of book ideas floating around in people’s brains. Unfortunately, they’re not always popping up in the mind of someone who loves to write, has the time to write, or has the skills to write well. Fortunately, there are people who will write your book for you: Ghostwriters.

 

You Get to Focus on Your Business

I can tell you as confidently as the next small business owner that owning and maintaining any business venture is not the easiest thing in the world. I’m lucky that most of my business transactions take place while I’m sitting at a computer in the comfort of my home. However, many businesses still have physical locations that must be stocked, promoted, insured, cleaned, maintained, and secured. When you’re in charge of all that, when in the world would you have time to write a book about your ancient methods for getting stains out of carpets or your philosophy on high-fidelity recruiting?

The answer for many is “I don’t.”

You Hire a Ghostwriter

A ghostwriter takes your concept and turns it into a finished book. You’ll need to have an initial conversation regarding pay, project length, book content, style, and other parameters. After that, there will be occasional phone calls or emails related to the progress of the book. Depending upon the length of the book and what other projects the writer is working on, you could have you book finished in as little as 30 days. Compare this to someone who sneaks in a few hundred words on the back of a meeting agenda once a week and takes years to even write enough content to fill a book. A ghostwriter is a faster means to a finished product.

 

You Continue Living Your Life

Because the ghostwriter you hired is handling about 98% of the heavy lifting, you can still run your business, spend time with your family, and enjoy outings with friends–all while your book is being written in the background. Think of how surprised everyone you know will be when they realize that you have produced a book–your name on the cover and everything!–and they don’t remember you having to lock yourself in the basement for six months to get it done. They’ve still had the benefit of your company at home and your management at work. Everybody wins!

 

Use Your Book to Grow Your Business

Not only do you now have a new product to market and sell to your current customers, you may have turned other people on to your business by “writing” a book.

Let’s say Joan loves to read. At the doctor’s office one day, she picks up a copy of your book, Vitreous China: A Resilient Plumber’s Tale of Overcoming Anxiety,  in the waiting room. As she starts to read, she finds herself relating to a lot of what you went through. She decides to download the eBook version so she can finish it at home. Once she’s done with the book (keep in mind that you just made money off of that download), she sees that your plumbing business is just a few miles from where she works. She decides to visit, she’s greeted by you or a member of your helpful staff, and you’ve just gained yourself a new, lifelong customer.

It’s not always fancy slogans, sparkling signage, or low prices that cause someone to want to do business with us. Many times it’s about forming some sort of social connection with our customers. When we do that, regardless of what our prices or marketing methods look like, we’re more likely to gain loyal customers who will brings us even more business through word-of-mouth.

Beyond the Covers

Just like people don’t all always read printed copy, ghostwriters aren’t restricted to writing just whole books. A writer can help you with your company newsletter, invoice formatting, web page copy, and blog posts. Ordering regularly from a few writers helps you maintain consistency when you’re requesting articles for your business’ blog. It also allows the writers you get work from to become increasingly familiar with the choice of topics and style of writing that your readers enjoy.

There’s No Excuse for Waiting

Reach out to a writer today. You may know some in your circle of friends, your staff, or your family. If not, visit Volo Press Services for the support you need to help you and your business prosper like never before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Alarming Reasons You Should Self-Publish

Self Publishing

Though I’m early in my writing career, I’ve run across many authors who are not. And, in seeing their experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that more people may benefit from self-publishing than I once might have thought. These two issues are puzzling (and somewhat alarming) reasons why self-publishing may be a better way to go than waiting on a traditional large publisher or even a small press (with or without the help of an agent) to decide to publish your work for you.

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1. The Lack of Editing

I know this may sound strange, but I’ve found that about 90% of the people I know of who have gone through a traditional publisher–mostly small presses–were not provided with proofreading or editing services of any  kind. They either had to edit the book themselves or come out of their own pocket to hire someone to read their work. I would have thought that fast and accurate proofreading services would have been one perk of involving a third party to publish your work. But if the publisher isn’t ensuring that your copy is clean, why work with them? If you are thinking of going the traditional route to publish, do your homework and be certain that this service is part of the deal.

As a self-publisher, you will have several options related to how you can get your work proofread for cheap or even free ( I discuss this in my online self-publishing courses) because you will have complete control. While there is nothing wrong with reviewing your own work for mistakes, I believe it is critical to get other people involved in reading your drafts. I don’t see any other way to fill in your own mental blind spots. We tend to get comfortable with believing our work is acceptable because we insert what we MEANT to write into what we ACTUALLY put down on the page. Getting various outside perspectives on your work is the only way that I know of to circumvent this.

2. The Lack of Promotion

Just as dumbfounding as seeing people have works published that so obviously have not been proofread or critiqued by anyone, is the fact that many authors working with a publisher still have to do the bulk of their own marketing, especially promotion. You would think that, with multiple outlets at their disposal (pod casts, social media accounts, blogs, etc.) a publisher would be able to help you take your marketing to the next level. If an author still has to do all of the event coordination, social media announcements, etc. what exactly was the benefit of hooking up with a publisher?

Again, should you decide that you want to work with a publisher, talk to them about how much work you’ll be responsible for, versus how much they’ll be responsible for. Take a look at how well some of their other artists are being represented. If possible, have a conversation with some of the authors that they represent in order to get a more fair representation of what working with that particular press is going to entail.

 

On a consistent basis, I get the impression that a self-published writers (like an independent singer or a free agent in athletics) is a more empowered writer. If you’re on the fence about self-publishing, I hope you’ll attend Self-Publishing 101 to learn a little more about the process to help you make your decision about it.

Book Review: ‘Paris Is Really For Lovers’ by Scarlet Cassadine

Volo Press Book Review

Will you fall in love with ‘Paris is Really for Lovers’ by Scarlet Cassadine? I’ll outline what it was like to read it for me and you can decide for yourself if your money would be well-spent on this piece of fiction labeled as contemporary romance.

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I had about as hard of a time reading this book as I had reading 50 Shades of Grey. Yet, I do it for a few reasons. First, because it does help me feel better about my own writing (and we all know my self-esteem is not the highest). Second, it concretely helps me see what doesn’t work in a piece so that I can avoid those types of pitfalls in my own. Third, if I’ve already paid for it and it’s written by an indie author, I’m going to finish it in support of someone who is doing what they love, regardless of what my opinion about it may be.

Why It Was So Difficult To Finish

Clarity

Imagine you have a close friend who is still learning English, has never been the most coherent storyteller, and is completely shit-faced. If you can visualize that person trying to tell you the story of how she met and married her second husband, you get a feel for what it’s like to try to read and comprehend what goes on in this book.

And, as I request of my own beta readers in their reviews, I won’t just toss that opinion out there and let it sit. I’ll back up what I noticed. Just so that you’ve been warned, “a knock appeared at the door” 🤔 and the use of ‘then’ in place of ‘than’ are rampant throughout this piece.

Here are just a few more examples of sections that shocked me–especially since, in the opening, someone was credited with having edited the book!  😱

The first few lines of the story:

It was all planned. 

Planned on how Tia Ambers was going to be able to have a full mental break from her home-bound duties.

Sadly, it was at this point that I realized reading this book was going to be grueling. And I was not proven wrong. I put ‘full mental break’ in orange because I believe I understand what she meant, but I have most often heard ‘mental break’ being used to describe acute psychosis due to my professional background.

 

A few paragraphs later:

He popped the trunk and unloaded her suitcase and carry-on tote brief case bag.

That’s a lot of different types of bags in a single product. Is it really all of those at the same time, was this a typo, or is this really what that author meant to say?

 

And a few paragraphs after that:

She was 14 when her parents took her [to Paris for the first time]. She remembered how huge the Eiffel Tower was and also the food was different. It was richer in spice and flavor and very decorative. Nothing plan or bland about it. And all the buildings and outskirt drives. 

‘And’ would suffice, as would a simple comma before ‘also.’ ‘The food was richer in spice…’ would flow just fine instead of breaking the idea up into two different sentences. The last part is just dangling out there on its own. There are a lot of lines like that in this book.

 

So, as you can see, there are a lot of clarity issues in the book. What I’ve shown you so far happens in just the front 4% of the book. You’ve got 96% more of this to deal with.

 

The Characters

There didn’t seem to be any character development here. The people listed were more like pawns that did whatever Cassadine wanted them to if it seemed convenient for her at the time.

Tia overwhelmingly allows herself to be moved around by the people surrounding her. She’s a constant damsel-in-distress. She does nothing about the fact that her husband is cheating on her, for example. Another guy, Paul, actually sets up a meeting with a divorce lawyer FOR HER in order to get it done–he even takes her to the meeting himself.

Paul does a lot of work for on Tia’s behalf–even buys the house the Ambers have been living in from Tia’s parents so she can continue living in it without issue–yet he never gets angry or resentful, he never seems exhausted or questioning of the relationship or Tia. He just takes everything in stride and is the perfect gentleman everywhere but in the bedroom.

These issues with character realism were most noticeable after Tia got raped. Once they did have sex again for the first time in a while, Tia had no hesitancy about the act. Then, even when Paul (for who knows what reason) physically restrains her with his hands during sex (as was done to her during the rape), she’s perfectly fine with it, even says she “loved it.”

The vast majority of people I’ve worked with who have experienced rape have trouble having any intimate contact for months, often years. And intimate contact can be something as simple as a touch, holding hands, or kissing. But it seemed to me that, because Cassadine was ready to write the rest of the book, she just pretended that the rape didn’t affect Tia very strongly and kept on with the story.

The Plot

In a nutshell:

Tia goes on a trip to Paris and meets a man, Paul, who works at a competing company and sweeps her off her feet. She decides she wants to leave her cheating husband and be with Paul. She’s raped by a guest staying in the same hotel as her one night and Paul gets her treated for her wounds. Paul lets her heal at his nearby estate and they return to the United States together after Paul offers her a job and her own company when she’s ready. After Tia accepts the job offer, Paul initiates and facilitates Tia’s divorce from her husband. Paul buys Tia’s house from Tia’s parents. Tia finds out she’s pregnant with Paul’s child. Paul proposes. Tia accepts. Tia decides to go on a trip to Mississippi to see an aunt she hasn’t met with in over 10 years. The end. 

That’s the ‘plot,’ but I don’t recognize a story arc. Tia didn’t change as a person, only her circumstances were manipulated by Paul. There was no real tension or mountain to climb. There were little mole hills that Paul launched her over or that magically went away, but nothing that she had to work through on her own.

Another oddity was that Paul’s ex-wife came to a business event Tia had organized for the company. Paul disappears with his ex somewhere, but Tia loses track of them. She goes to the bathroom and hears them having sex in one of the stalls. She sees Paul step out of the stall after his ex, wash his lips, and leave the bathroom. AFTER THAT is when Tia decides to tell Paul that she’s pregnant, then Paul proposes, then she accepts. Again, it’s like the bathroom incident didn’t take place. Or, maybe Tia doesn’t care, but that would seem odd because she just divorced somebody who cheated on her.

😵

 

Overall Rating: 1 / 5 stars

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I can’t in good conscience recommend spending money to read this book. There are so many issues that need to be addressed before I would even deem it a complete work of fiction. But, that’s just my opinion.

If you still want to read it, click the cover image below.

 

 

You Lose $21 Every Time You Buy Paper

save money paper volo press

It may seem obvious to some, but I’ve recently run into fellow authors who believed they were really getting a deal by paying $5.00 for a ream of paper or maybe $40 for a 5,000-sheet case. I can’t see how 1.1 cents per sheet or $4 for a ream is a deal (then again, I have to be resourceful with my budget.).

Below is a basic rundown of a recent search I did online that gives you some cheaper options. The last case I bought lasted me multiple years due to digital sharing, critiquing, and delivery being standard for most of my publishing and editing needs. Don’t waste money on something you might not even use that often. Bulk up and store it, like I did!
For 5,000 sheets of white copy/multi-purpose, 92-bright, 20-lb paper: 

Amazon.com: $51 = $0.0102 per sheet / $5.10 per ream

Office Depot (Sale): $33 = $0.0066 per sheet / $3.30 per ream

Office Depot (Standard): $49 = $0.0098 per sheet / $4.90 per ream

Costco: $37 = $0.0074 per sheet / $3.70 per ream

Sam’s Club: $30 = $0.0060 per sheet / $3.00 per ream

For this search, Sam’s crushes the competition with a mere six tenths of a penny per sheet, compared to Amazon’s 1+ penny per sheet (almost twice as much!).

Even comparing total bills, you would save $21 by purchasing paper at Sam’s, versus online with Amazon (sadly, $30 of that $51 was JUST SHIPPING!).

Wholesale Membership

For those of you who don’t have a membership to a place like Costco or Sam’s (use this link and get $20 for joining), please consider signing up. For between $40 and $50 per year, you can rack up some fantastic savings, even if you never purchase bulk food there.

For example, when my bank account’s looking a little faint, I love to go to Sam’s to grab lunch (or dinner…or a snack…you get the picture).

Why? Because I can get a slice of pizza larger than my hand and an extra large drink of my choice for less than $2.50. Most places will charge you that much just for the drink. So, conservatively, you’re looking at at least $5 for the same lunch anywhere else.

If I eat lunch like this at Sam’s just twice a week, I’ll save $20 a month or $240 per year. This is how a $50 membership exponentially pays off! And this isn’t counting other home essentials I buy for my family, including paper towels, shampoo and conditioner, toilet paper, laundry detergent, or dish soap.

The discounts are similar for other non-perishables like pens, dishes, desks, books, bulk notebooks and writing pads, dry erase markers, and more.

If you found this post helpful, how would you have felt if you had gotten this information 6 months ago when I first sent it out to my writing newsletter subscribers? Sign up now and get these kinds of tips, tricks, and knowledge sent straight to your inbox twice each month! 

Welcome to Volo Press!

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Welcome to Volo Press! was originally published on Volo Press

Welcome to Volo Press! was originally published on Volo Press

Welcome to Volo Press! was originally published on Volo Press

Welcome to Volo Press! was originally published on Volo Press

Welcome to Volo Press! was originally published on Volo Press

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